Sunday, May 27, 2012

New Hugelkultur Bed

I'm starting a new food forest garden area that will hold a few fruit trees, and the old barn is just above that area. Rain pours off the barn roof and flows down the slight slope right to the creek, so I decided to build a hugelkultur bed right on top of the buried electric and telephone lines. That not only accomplishes a bed that holds water, but it also covers the lines to keep me from digging a planting hole too close to the lines.

I plan to plant winter squash vines on it this year, and they can ramble on both sides of the hugelkultur bed. It's a good technique to build a mini-water-retention landscape.

This will be the new planting area

"Call before you Dig" is the Law in Virginia, and it's free, so I had "MissUtility" come out and mark the lines. You can barely see the flags in the photo above if you enlarge it.

Then I hauled in some logs that were beginning to deteriorate, and placed them over the lines. I would have liked to extend the row about another 6 feet, but I can add on later when I find more logs.

Next I added small branches from trimming some bushes in the yard. Having more intermediate sized stuff would have been best, but I used what I had.

The next layer has more greens, and I also added grass clippings (not shown).

Next, I had someone with a Bobcat come and scrape off the sod in the new area, and dump it on the hugelkulture log piles. Some of the grass still needs to be turned grass-side down, and it's quite lumpy so I also need to smooth it out a bit.

My plans are to add a thick layer of wood chips to the area that will be planted down the slope from the hugelkulture bed. The black pile beyond my truck is the mostly composted material from the sheet mulching last fall over the drain field, that I didn't know was a drain field when I did it. The pH is highly alkaline, so it will have to sit for a while before I can use it. It will get a few small applications of elemental sulfur to help bring down the pH.

I still have a lot of work on the hugelcultur bed, turning the grass clumps and evening it out. Then it will get a layer of topsoil and planted with winter squash this year.

More photos coming when I het it planted, so stay tuned!

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