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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old October 2, 2016   #16
jtjmartin
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Default Hugel success

Heavy Virginia clay soil.
Lots of downed trees.
Dry summers.

I decided to try hugelkulture this past fall. It's essentially composting with buried wood. It worked great. Of all the tomatoes I planted, the only ones still alive and producing are the ones in the hugel beds. I'm sold!

Digging more today.

[tried to attach pic but it was upside down]
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Old October 2, 2016   #17
Gerardo
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I'm doing this. We've got alluvial soil for the most part.

Replacing a fuel line on my chainsaw and then it's off to dig graves.
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Old October 2, 2016   #18
jtjmartin
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Here are some pics of a new 24 foot bed. (Sorry - the pictures need to be rotated)

IMG_4868.JPG

IMG_4867.JPG

IMG_4865.JPG


These beds used to have a row of tomatoes in the back. The only tomatoes left are in the hugel beds. The vines are about 10 feet long with the leaves removed except at the top.

IMG_4866.JPG
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Old October 4, 2016   #19
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That worked VERY well! The biggest, healthiest, squash vines I've ever grown.

For reference, thus was taken July 23rd. This is a single Zapallo Macre plant, planted June 1


The squash were big too-






I'm making a bunch more Hugel beds next year.
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Old October 4, 2016   #20
jtjmartin
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Default Hugel

Wow! That is a big squash?!

A number of people worry about decaying wood robbing the soil of nitrogen. I've noticed that my beds certainly haven't required any additional nitrogen and have needed a lot less water.

Yours need more nitrogen?
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Old October 4, 2016   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtjmartin View Post
Wow! That is a big squash?!

A number of people worry about decaying wood robbing the soil of nitrogen. I've noticed that my beds certainly haven't required any additional nitrogen and have needed a lot less water.

Yours need more nitrogen?
If the wood decays in a slow manner naturally and critters and fungi break it down it doesn't rob the soil of nitrogen as much from what I can tell.
It is when you want to hot compost it is when this happens big time.
This is just from my own observations.

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Old October 4, 2016   #22
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That makes a lot of sense. Thank you.
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Old October 4, 2016   #23
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Good stuff. I threw in what ever branches I could find on the bottom of my raised beds two years ago when they were filled They are 18 inches deep, and I don't see too much difference in them. I thought the branches take several years to break down in my climate so something to look forward to.

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Old October 4, 2016   #24
PaddyMc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtjmartin View Post
Wow! That is a big squash?!

A number of people worry about decaying wood robbing the soil of nitrogen. I've noticed that my beds certainly haven't required any additional nitrogen and have needed a lot less water.

Yours need more nitrogen?
Not beyond the initial cup of blood meal I threw in the mix when I was filling the hole. I'll be interested to see how that bed does next year.
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Old April 14, 2017   #25
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Paddy-

In the process of beginning my first Hugel. Because of the river rock soil, I opted to peel the sod up, dig a shallow bed and lay in cut Aspen logs from last year. I am jealous of your soil - looks fairly rock free. I am just down the street towards the Big Wood.

One concern I have is the logs are still too green, but I have a lot of wood this year so figured it was worth the attempt. The less rotted wood may impact the mound in the first year but hopefully added nitrogen sources will offset.

On top and in between the log layer I plan on layering hot chicken manure/litter to provide a nitrogen source, some kitchen scraps and the sod I pulled. Then aspen and willow branches, leaf mulch, sod, scraps, branches, compost and soil.

It will be more of a mound but looking forward to it slowly breaking down over the next few years and improving. Planning on doing a squash as well.
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Old April 17, 2017   #26
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I used pretty green logs last year (cut up from a big branch that cracked off the tree under snow load). I think you should be fine. I'm putting in two more Hugel's this year.
PM me and let's talk specifics.
Also - welcome to tomatoville!
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Old April 17, 2017   #27
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Quote:
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I had a similar idea when I was digging out one of the ponds by the garden. As the saying goes...the look on my wife's face was "priceless".
Divorce the next day would be on my first take out the trash from the garden list if my husband ever did anything like this. That is sick man, I wouldn't trust him again.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #28
IdahoTee
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Quote:
I used pretty green logs last year (cut up from a big branch that cracked off the tree under snow load). I think you should be fine. I'm putting in two more Hugel's this year.
PM me and let's talk specifics.
Also - welcome to tomatoville!
Thanks for the welcome - I am excited to be here and be a part of so much fantastic grow knowledge. I must admit already stalking (in a good way) some of your previous posts.

Will PM you.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #29
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I've found that in the SE, wood decays so rapidly that some nitrogen needs to be added to help get the tomato plant established. My hugels are built with semi to well rotted wood. I build little walls out the clay to create terraces to hold topsoil in place on top of the log. (The soil out of my front yard could pass for adobe once it dries out.)
My hugels are in the front yard as well and still mystify the neighbors.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #30
jtjmartin
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Geotek:

I would love to see some pictures if you get a chance.

I add nitrogen to my huglebeds too since they are just a couple years old. They heat up quicker in the spring and take a lot less water than my other raised beds. A huge success in Virginia clay!
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