Building a Hugelkultur Bed
PyreneesPlot Offline
Mountain Dweller
#1
In 2016 we decided to build a hugelkultur bed - a mound filled with wood and topped with soil - in order to have somewhere for the plants that hated having their feet in solid clay but I didn't have room for in the vegetable garden, principally raspberry canes. The mound would have a north side (for the raspberries) and and a south side, where I intended to grow globe artichokes. The spot we chose is at the bottom of a gentle slope and has water running through it during the winter and after summer storms. It is also the spot where we were storing our uncut fire wood and as a result had a huge amount of rubbish wood that had begun to rot beyond use.

After removing the good wood and putting the gash to one side we measured out the size of the bed 3x2m approx, a size chosen because most of the wood we had was no longer than 3m. We then dug a hole in the clay to a depth of about half a metre - this is in to solid clay, the idea being that the base would hold moisture.

We filled the hole with big logs
     
topped them off with all the wood debris from clearing the log pile 
   
mostly to fill in the gaps, and then added a big layer of smaller poles
   
next went on a layer of horse manure 
   
Before we topped it off with the topsoil removed when we dug the hole. The finished mound
   
and seen from the other side of the meadow 
     
We duly planted raspberries along the back side and I used the front for various things - tomatoes, pumpkins, flowers. But I have to say that nothing thrived on the front, mostly because there were so many rodents and slugs living in the gaps in the timber! Three years ago I planted a peach tree, some strawberry plants and a rhubarb crown - all but the tree have vanished! So now it is just full of raspberries on one side and blackcurrants on the other. Five years after construction the mound is completley flat and I have to top up the soil to prevent the roots of the peach tree becoming exposed.
   
It hasn't really achieved what I wanted and was hard work to create; I also thought the mound would last longer. On the other hand this is the only bit of the productive garden that never gets watered.
Has Anyone Seen the Plot?

Hautes-Pyrénées (65), France
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Veggie Offline
Super Pest Controller
#2
Thanks PP.Smile
Perfectly explained and illustrated.
I think Sepp Holzer is a fan of hugelkultur and I've seen illustrations where the mounds resemble hills, suitable for goats to climb. It sounded like a lot of work to me (as a lazy soulWink) so I'm indebted to you for doing all the hard work for me and saving me the effort. Its a shame it didn't work well for you.
Wonky Shopkeeper in Sunshiny South Wales
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Spec Offline
Member
#3
Yes many thanks for that PP, interesting to note that you don't need to water that area, just a pity that you can't get the benefit of any fertility that may have been created due to the pests
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Vinny Offline
Geordie living 'ower the watter'
#4
Well, I had toyed with the idea at one time, but thanks to your wonderful explanation, I think I will give it a miss for the future. Rolleyes

Well done you though for trying something new. Smile
"The problem with retirement is that you never get a day off"- Abe Lemons
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toomanytommytoes Offline
Member
#5
I made a sort of hugel bed a few years ago after cutting down an old, diseased apple tree. Dug down a foot, threw in the apple tree and other assorted bits, topped up with the soil then made a lasagna bed on top of that. Haven't had many problems with it other than having to top it up every year because the soil level sinks. Not really noticed many benefits either. It's a lot of work to make one and I wouldn't bother again.
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Can the Man Offline
Can the Man with the van
#6
Sounds like a lot of effort for minimal to zero returns
Coffee keeps me busy until it’s acceptable to drink whiskey.
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PyreneesPlot Offline
Mountain Dweller
#7
In future, I'll just be heaping up the gash wood around the place. It provides great habitat and eventually produces lovely soil. My hugel building days are behind me!
Has Anyone Seen the Plot?

Hautes-Pyrénées (65), France
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Bren Offline
Member
#8
Good clear photos PP Smile It sounds like it was a success for the raspberries and blackcurrants so it wasn't all a wasted effort.
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