Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Garden Expansion - Hugelkultur II

Hugelkultur starts here with
digging a ditch at the base of
a three-foot drop.
      I planted the hugelkultur yesterday! I'm excited about that, but concerned that the steep sides will collapse before the potatoes, peas and greens establish roots. I'll mulch it with straw and tonight I'll cover it with a floating row cover because we are expecting rain Friday and Saturday and I don't want the soil to wash away. Getting that soil in place was a challenge. I viewed a video of people slapping mud on a hugelkultur a handful at a time. I worked mostly by myself and thought this would take much to much time. So I balanced a board against the hillside while I filled in behind it, compacted the wet-not-soggy soil enough to hold it in place, then repeated the operation on a higher level. When I reached shoulder height for the entire hugel, I asked my spouse for assistance. He held the board while I shoveled more dirt. I was told I needed ten inches of soil over the sod because I'm growing potatoes. I doubt I got even coverage at that depth, but I used more dirt than I expected. When I commented to my hubby that I'd moved a ton of dirt, he said that I had, but only figuratively. Literally, he said, I'd moved more.
After digging a ditch, begin filling it with wood, preferably rotting wood. Fit the wood as tightly as possible
to eliminate empty pockets. Fill pockets with smaller compostable material.

Keep adding wood. (Viewed from north end)

High enough! I topped mine with last year's corn stalks and then turf, turned green side down. If you build a hugel,
 I recommend that you don't skip this step! It provides a great base for holding the dirt,
and pushes everything underneath together like a girdle. (Viewed from east)

I don't yet have photos of the finished hugelkultur. Finished? Well, is it really finished before stuff is growing on it? I'm so eager to see this happen!

Meanwhile, today I dug out the last green in the area I want to plant more peas, beets, carrots, lettuce and onions. This afternoon, I'll be setting logs to act as steps and erosion control northward of the end of the hugelkultur. Hopefully, the seeds and transplants will go in this afternoon as well.

There's a new word here at my house, "hugel" as a verb. I'm not even sure it's a noun yet in the English language, but I believe it will be.


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