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really tall hugelkultur?

Posted by Josh Willis 
really tall hugelkultur?
May 10, 2018 08:15PM
Anyone see objections to a 4 to 6 foot tall hugelkulture mound? My goal would be brush decomposition, not so much raised garden cultivation (though a few cubic yards of black gold years hence would a-ok too).

In other words, without the investment of a wood chipper and if burning is a no-go, is huge hugelkulture a lazy, oops i mean, *smart* solution to brush? i guess the real question is there an upper limit to brush height / height between ground & humus layer for the magic to happen.

Earthworks
Zone 7a in West-Central MD
Re: really tall hugelkultur?
June 01, 2018 11:33AM
You can consolidate a huge amount of material into a ring shape. I made a 14' "hugelring" by establishing a central compass point and using that as a simple way to lay out two concentric circles of vertical posts (straight limbs sharpened by axe) which served as a structure for a circular wall comprised of densely stacked de limbed branches. Inside the ring, I layered the bottom with larger wood chunks followed by ramial material and then a deep layer of compressed weeds and fine brush. I set a bucket in the center of the ring as I was layering to hold a void for a large olla (buried unglazed terracotta water reservoir) that I would like to install in the center. If you take time to pack and fit the material as densely and close together as possible, you can make an enormous pile of brush transform into a useful piece of infrastructure as well as foster fungal decomposition. It's surprising how much material can go away and end up as a neat, tidy, and efficient raised bed design.
Re: really tall hugelkultur?
June 02, 2018 10:01PM
Nice to hear you had a positive experience with a 14' version! I have to confess, though, I don't understand the purpose of the ring shape? (or was it just to have it around the olla?)

Earthworks
Zone 7a in West-Central MD
Re: really tall hugelkultur?
June 03, 2018 12:19PM
Prior to the hugel, I had stacked firewood with a similar circular approach and was impressed with how small of a footprint the of material consolidated into. I found that I liked how easily I could work around the pile due to it's circular layout; it wasn't in the way as much, and the pile had a pleasant visual order which imparts an almost sculptural aesthetic dimension.

To elaborate on the ringhugel: the walls are about a foot and a half thick of densely packed wood and the circular design is more structurally stable than something with corners. The walls will be decomposed over time in the same manner as any other woody debris, but the center is basically a giant bin into which I can add material and work in over the coming years. There are several benefits to a circular raised bed: maximized surface area, excellent work flow both in relation to working on the actual bed and (in our case) with the way it sits in the landscape, and efficient water usage. I want to make and install a huge olla, but any central water source, even a small sprinkler, can water the entire bed.

Karn Piana
Zone 7 Semi-Arid Steppe
Northern New Mexico
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