Post by mountaindweller on Sept 12, 2012 22:33:45 GMT -5
What happens if you plant root vegetables in your huegelbeet, carrots burdock etc.? I have very little soil in my hügelbeds, because I have none and the roots reach uncomposted grass clippings or leaves very soon. How does this affect the roots? I know potatoes don't mind this, but carrots?
Post by mountaindweller on Jan 15, 2013 2:25:11 GMT -5
Update from my huegelbeds: I did some huegelbeds in the front yard and they did terribly bad. The only thing that grows well here are the tomatoes. I thought I can save my back and lay everything on top of our terrible soil or fill. First it did well, but our overly wet time seems to be over and the weather gets dryer, at the moment we have huge swings from cool to hot. That means that I cannot maintain the hills as they dry out far too fast. I find in my garden hilled beds like Sepp Holzer suggested have huge stability problems. I wonder weather he uses a magical earth glue to keep the soil on the hill. The beds I made digging out and using the same principle getting better and better, but then, I don't know weather the twigs and branches I labourously cut up to put down at the very bottom of the beds really are making that much difference. I am still thinking what I do with these "on top" beds and how I will develop the rest of our garden, maybe it won't be huegelbeds even when I can get all these braches for free, to make it is just so much work.
We don't build recognizable huegel beds but we use the technique whenever we are building a new raised bed and have brush and wood that we want to get rid of which is just about always. Even at the bottom, where the largest pieces are, we add chewed up leaves and grass. We want to the hold moisture in and give the bacteria something easy to get started on rather than having to start on wood. We do a lot of wetting down as we build the layers so that water collection isn't a problem at the beginning. We don't want the heavier material wicking water from the lighter material and drying it out. Water retention is a problem though so we heavily mulch the surface even if we aren't planting into it. When I say heavily, six inches of material always and we maintain that thickness as it shrinks by adding more throughout the summer. It's a lot harder to get moisture back into the mix than it is to keep it there by heavy mulching. If we're going to plant into a new bed, we make sure that the root zone of each plant is in a pocket of fertility and moisture, ie compost since the surrounding material will be in various stages of decomposition but mostly in early stages and thus will have little to offer the developing roots. Once the roots are developed, they seem better able to deal with the less decomposed material. At the end of the season, we often find roots going right through undecomposed clumps of leaves. The root zone has no branches/twigs in it at all. It's a moist layer of plant waste, sometimes green, sometimes brown, sometimes both. If we are planting seeds rather than plants we skin a 2 inch layer of compost on the surface so that the seeds have something to germinate in and get their roots started.
There's a bit of work at the beginning but the payoff is immense and continuous especially if you are heavily mulching throughout the season. As the mulch decomposes, it's leaching down into the bed. I think mulching is key to making these hugel techniques work. We don't have a dry season here but last summer was a drought for us. Our new raised bed which contained mostly undecomposed material was planted with bush squash and did really, really well with minimal need for water until well past mid summer. The mulch was bone dry on the top but the soil surface underneath was moist and full of red wrigglers. By late summer though even the mulch wasn't doing much and the red wrigglers had headed down deep. At that point though, it didn't matter too much since squash were maturing on the bushes. New flowers didn't matter since they wouldn't have produced anything because of frost.
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly - Dalai Lama
Post by ottawagardener on Jan 15, 2013 10:33:30 GMT -5
Everyone's climate and soil makes these techniques work a bit different or need adaptations to meet different climates. I use wood waste as paths in between my beds instead of at the bottom of raised beds. I do though poor compost on top of sod and then soil on top of that to make beds on occasion which works well for larger crops like pumpkins. As you said, carrots are picky for all sorts of reasons. They require deep, light soil for the best root development, insist on even moisture for good germination in the spring and then the babies can be eaten by a number of pest some of which enjoy decaying matter like the drastic earwig invasion I had this year.
You could always make soil pockets in your woody beds to plant in carrots.
Moisture and flow of the land (with climate) is a big consideration. Like Mike, heavy mulching helps depending on how much dry you get. In really dry areas, they make sunken beds to provide adequate moisture and I do this sometimes for crops that I'm growing that prefer it a bit cooler. You could also try ollas near plants.
Eventually, the inclusion of organic matter will improve the soil's moisture retention but it might not be that quick a fix.
Oh and maybe Seppe has clay=glue? There is a reason why someone thought of sticking sides on their raised beds.
Garden is a clearing in the woods grading from shallow, rocky soil supporting a maple bush to a pine forest planted on sandy soil and a clay bottomland with spruce and tamarack.
Post by keen101 (Biolumo / Andrew B.) on Dec 26, 2018 9:37:01 GMT -5
Sounds interesting, though if I were to do it I would combine it with inoculated mushroom spawn of various species. Though they would need lots of extra moisture and probably need to be heavily shaded since it is so dry here. Wood does not decompose easily here in a dry climate. It would take many years naturally.