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Old July 22, 2017   #1
IdahoTee's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Hailey, Idaho
Posts: 17
Default My First Hugelkultur Mound

With the opportunity to use some aspen trees I dropped last year and sawed into logs, I gave this season a go with a Hugelkultur mound.

What I enjoy most about the idea of a Hugel is that after much searching, reading and planning, it became clear that these grow mounds have a ton of flexibility in design and creation. So armed with a medley of logs, branches, twigs, semi aged compost, manure, leaves, kitchen waste and random other ingredients, I went to work this April. 3 months later I have to say I am stunned how well it is growing plants.

Because the soil in my yard is river bed with a skin of top soil, I decided to go up with the mound instead of a pit style Hugelkultur. It was more work keeping it mounded and not sloughing off the sides, but so far the results have been beyond my expectations.

Here were the steps I took:
  1. Dug a trench and removed the sod
  2. Raked the bed and removed exposed rocks
  3. Laid down logs - watered (props to my daughter for the artful log design)
  4. covered in leaf litter - watered
  5. spread gooey kitchen scraps saved all winter - watered
  6. added top soil removed from bed
  7. spread chicken manure (with bonus maggots!)
  8. top soil - watered
  9. laid aspen and willow branches
  10. partly composted leaves and grass
  11. added the removed sod (dirt side up) - watered
  12. leaf litter
  13. small branches/sticks - watered
  14. topped with nearly finished compost
  15. spread soil/manure mix over top
  16. finished with some bagged potting soil I had laying around from previous year

I took the cue from PaddyMC and planted three winter squash after threat of frost had passed and added some meadow mix flower seeds, a few sunflower seeds and let it rip. Oddly, I have three tomato plants, several random sqaush (assuming pumpkin but not sure) and even two potato plants pop up. I can assume this was from the kitchen scraps that were added, but not really sure. I will let them be and see what happens.

Here is a progress photo from today...

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Old July 22, 2017   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Bastrop Texas Lost Pines Forest.
Posts: 32,652

Looks fantastic.
One of my raised beds is the result of the same thing.
I had no idea it was called anything all I did was dig a deep hole for soil I needed and piled in a bunch of wood for filler.

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Old July 22, 2017   #3
IdahoTee's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Hailey, Idaho
Posts: 17

That's awesome Worth.

Just the idea that you can chuck a bunch of garden waste laying around the yard into a hole or pile it up, spread a bit of dirt on top and plant is my kind of gardening.

Already eyeballing some trees in the yard that look like they could use a bit of chainsawing so I can make another one.
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Old July 22, 2017   #4
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Williamsburg Zone 7b
Posts: 624

I love to hugel! Because water is sometimes an issue - both too much and too little - I trench all my new beds, fill them with wood, and create raised beds. The wood and other debris really helps break up Virginia clay and the woods holds water like a sponge for the dry periods.

Keep us posted.
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Old July 23, 2017   #5
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Just Me
Posts: 3,264

Looks like you have a very good one going there! Love the pictures.
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Old July 24, 2017   #6
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Idaho
Posts: 239

That is looking awesome!
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Old July 24, 2017   #7
oakley's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: NewYork 5a
Posts: 1,794

Wow, great documentation. I was just researching to show a neighbor boy what I was
doing. I started mine a couple weeks ago while getting some trees down and yard work.

He will be doing some yard upkeep while away.

I'm prepping for next year so a bit different and not so tidy,
I'm also going up same way x 2.

Behind three raised wood built beds.

Thank you for posting !!

(he is 12 and really interested in the garden coming together)
He is a bit more interested in his quad so the extra cash pays for fuel,
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Old July 25, 2017   #8
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
Posts: 4,886

This does look amazing! I've never tried it myself, but right away it gives me ideas for what to do with this and that around the garden. Elderberry prunings for one thing, they aren't fit to burn (toxic smoke) but a bit too robust just to toss in the compost.
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Old September 12, 2017   #9
IdahoTee's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Hailey, Idaho
Posts: 17

The Hugel is starting to peeter out a bit as fall approaches and these pics are a bit sad because I took them midday with weepy leaves, but I am pleased to say the bed has been an eye-opening success this season.

Everything it grew has thrived and the plants that self propagated are even fruiting (you never know what a hybrid strain from the grocery store will do). So far I have 3 nice Blue Hubbard squashes, several pumpkins, acorn squash, tomatoes, a potato plant and some other unidentified winter squashes. All but the Blue Hubbard were from seeds in kitchen waste used to create the bed.

Anyway, here are some update photos.

A couple of Blue Hubbards

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