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Hugelkultur (Plants)

by dan @, Tuesday, December 29, 2015, 07:23 (936 days ago)

I've probably posted about this before, but what the heck. Gloom and doom could use a little positive news. This method of agriculture works, and one thing that I've found is so nice about it is that it is incredibly scalable. Very flexible.

One thing I've noticed just in the small piles I've built is the decreased need for watering. Daily watering in dry periods is no longer necessary. We left for nearly a week last summer when it was hitting 35C with no rain. I expected to see a wilted garden, but miraculously, everything was lush, and the rain gauge empty. And this is sandy soil that doesn't hold water. Very nice.

But, this page says it all:


by dulan drift, Wednesday, December 30, 2015, 23:02 (934 days ago) @ dan

Looks interesting Dan - i will give it a go - God knows i've got the wood for it. Actually, it was on my list but i'd assumed you would have to bury the wood, which was slightly beyond my my effort threshhold.

So what have you grown in your hugelkultur so far?


by dan @, Thursday, December 31, 2015, 07:10 (934 days ago) @ dulan drift

No, you don't have to bury it. There are many ways to build these. I built really high raised beds using old lumber as walls. One bed is raised well over a foot, another, an earlier half-ass attempt, is about 6 inches. Then I just threw in some old rotting wood and piled soil on top. In spots you hit would just an inch or two under the soil, in others the soil is quite deep. Given the heat and mosquitoes at the time, it was a rushed effort.

I've recently built a new bed nearly two feet in height. I'm using them to grow leafy greens mostly, with some peppers going, some moringa of course. I need to order some seeds -- eggplant, tomato, various greens, peppers, etc. You're lucky to be able to buy really high quality seeds in Taiwan (Known-you).

Another technique to look into is keyhole gardening. (Google simply 'keyhole garden'). Very interesting. I haven't tried that yet and probably won't in the near future, but I have been developing another idea -- bamboo watering stakes.

Very simple really. Cut some bamboo, leaving a knob at one end so it can hold water, the other end being open obviously.

I have very sandy soil. Water runs right through it. I need ways to hold water in the soil. Hugelkultur works great, but I'm just playing around with this other idea. I used bamboo stakes to build my raised gardens, and noticed how well they hold water. What if I could find a way to have that water released into the soil very slowly? I tried drilling tiny tiny holes, but the water ran right through. I thought the bamboo would swell and hold it, but so far no luck.

Next I'll try drilling tiny holes, or perhaps scarring the outside of the bamboo, then putting a heavy paper inside the bamboo around the inside edge, rolled up.

Another option is to simply fill the hollow bamboo with compost, perhaps packed tightly, hence the connection to keyhole gardens. A compost-filled bamboo watering stake would be like a miniature keyhole garden 'area'. A bed of vegetables would have many stakes, perhaps spaced 1 to 2 feet apart.

Yet another option is to drill larger holes hear the top of the bamboo so that they (the holes) sit about 1 inch under ground once I drive the pole into the ground. Then, the bamboo will hold water up to those holes. Theoretically, roots would then find those holes and the water reservoir, making this a type of hydroponics.

I will prevail with my bamboo watering stakes!


by dan @, Thursday, December 31, 2015, 11:10 (934 days ago) @ dan

I've built a small raised Hugelkultur bed over 2 feet in height, and I'm going to test the bamboo stake.

I'll use three types of stake:

1. An empty stake with holes (about 1/8" diameter) cut to 1" depth. (Holes buried to 1", stake somewhere between 7" and 15")

2. A stake with same holes cut to 1" depth, and smallest possible holes at 2" depth. Stake filled with compost.

3. Stake as #2, no compost, with additional small holes cut to 3" or more depth, with heavy paper (i.e., toilet paper roll cardboard) on inside wall of bamboo. (This seems the least likely to work if only due to practicality, and I may just do a few.)

Stakes will be placed 12"-16" apart, maybe closer depending on what I encounter under the sand layer.

After placing stakes, I'll spread a seeded mixture of rich soil. I combine store bought potting mix, store bought cheap soil, mulch from our property, and some soil sourced on property. I mix all that, add organic fertilizer, then throw in a bunch of seeds, a variety. Greens mostly, but maybe tomato, whatever I have on hand. I mix all that very well. I can through some white sand in to see how well it's mixed.

I then spread that in about a 1"-1.5" layer over the bed. Works great!

Some ideas: One could go crazy with all the possibilities. For example, you could combine 2 and 3, putting paper (or other material) on the inside wall of the bamboo, them compacting compost inside that.

Also, solutions will vary greatly depending on soil type. With Taiwan's red clay, for example, you might be able to simply use bamboo stake with small holes. The problem would be getting the bamboo into the ground without it splitting. I can almost push it in here. In Taiwan, you'd probably have to create a hole first using something very hard. If you try to pound bamboo into the hard Taiwan soil, it could easily split.


by dulan drift, Monday, January 04, 2016, 13:41 (929 days ago) @ dan

Sounds interesting. Can you post some photos?


by dan @, Thursday, January 14, 2016, 10:21 (920 days ago) @ dulan drift

I certainly will once I get back into it. I need to get it all set up within the next 6 weeks, before spring starts. Right now we're having freeze warnings. I don't think it's actually hit 0 here, but it's come pretty damn close, like maybe 2. Daytime highs in the 60s and 70s F, night lows low 30s to low 40s. Below normal.

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