Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Front yard hugelkultur status

I've noticed that I sometimes write blog posts and then fail to followup with the results.  I need to get better about that. 

Anyway, long ago I attempted to put a hugelkultur bed in my front yard.  I haven't been overwhelmed with the results.  You can see the difference in the two pictures below. 

It's been nearly two years since I put this in.  Since then I've added 4-6 wheelbarrow loads of compost.  I added rabbit manure.  I added more compost and planted hairy vetch and rye grass in hopes that the root system that developed would hold everything in place.  The rye grass grew to be a foot tall.  I cut it down and left it in place as mulch. 
September 2012
June 2014
I made a few attempts at growing beans, kale, and even onions here.  None of it worked real well.  I think I have at least two problems.  The first is that this area doesn't get a lot of sun.  The second is that I don't think I've sufficiently covered the wood.  The third would be that there's only 3-4" of soil on top of the wood. 

I pulled back the top layer of mulch the other night and found that a lot of the buried wood was exposed.  The areas that were exposed appeared to be dry and not rotting.  The areas that were covered did show signs of rot.  (I have to say that the soil here is beautiful.)
Closeup of exposed wood.  The bottom is damp and the top is dry.
I pulled out three of the logs near the end.  Two of them had a fair amount of rot and the third did not.
I have a guess as to what happened. When I dumped the compost on top of the wood a lot of it fell off to the sides.  That's fine.  The wood needs to be covered.  At one time it did cover the wood, but it eventually settled.  I would need to make it much deeper to keep that from happening again, and I don't think I have enough compost for that.  I'm thinking that I might just remove the wood core and leave the beautiful new soil behind. 

1 comment:

  1. I was rooting for you (LOL) to dig the base deeper, like the two-foot depth originally planned. This'd let gravity keep more water in the wood "sponge" - as it is, this is still a great side-by-side example of wet wood results vs. dry wood. Thanks for sharing the follow-up, even though it wasn't coming out as you planned.
    I have some nice years-old air-aged wood and some freshly-fallen beetle-eaten pine logs and planning to Hugel the Heck out of it. May not be brave enough to do it in the front, but it *would* take care of some useless St. Augustine lawn which I would love to reduce and replace with productive plants.

    Houston TX