Author Topic: A couple of questions on Hugelkultur Bed  (Read 2540 times)

Offline SnoHam13

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 275
  • Karma: 5
  • New TSP Forum member
A couple of questions on Hugelkultur Bed
« on: December 22, 2013, 04:42:16 PM »
this looks like the answer to our issues with growing vegetables
we live up in the copper country of Michigan [Keweenaw]
soil is as bad or worse than some of the areas that were started in the desert
lots of mine rock available for retaining walls
first question;
is it the ultimate ''Sin'' using fertilizer to get the process started decomposing wood
from what I have researched so far the wood absorbs nitrogen in the beginning to start the composting of the wood
Soooooo what about applying urea [46-0-0]to the wood and mix with the back fill that contacts the wood
that should eliminate it being drawn out of the compost the first year wile the process is getting started

second question;
is it possible to put this method to work inside of a green house with ether a walking trench or raised beds
the growing season here is short and supplemental heat will be needed for year round growing [rocket mass heat]
the roof on the south side will be lexian 3 layer on a 12/12 pitch due to snow load and low sun in the winter
the rest of the green house will be stick built with foam insulation and vapor barrier
trying to come up with a method to grow year round and low on the labor intensity and utility's too[no supplemental lights]

SnoHam13



endurance

  • Guest
Re: A couple of questions on Hugelkultur Bed
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2013, 05:40:46 PM »
Regarding the nitrogen sink issue, I think you're a lot better off using a cheaper nitrogen source like manure.  That's what I did to start my beds; I dug down to bedrock (about 18"), backfilled with 18" of logs, branches and woodchips, then covered it with 12-18" of horse manure, before laying down 12" of top soil.  I was creating terraces and using the rock I was pulling out for my retaining walls.  Besides getting a nitrogen rich fertilizer, I'm also filling any dead space between the logs so I'd have less compaction and I'm adding the bacteria to start the cellulose digestion process, since that's what is happening in a horses gut anyway.

As for doing hugelbeds in a greenhouse, well, my primary reason for hugelbeds is because I don't get regular rain and it gives the roots a sponge to get into that holds the water for weeks.  The downside and reason I might think twice about doing it in a greenhouse is because it becomes the perfect matrix for mice to tunnel in and build an elaborate network of tunnels, from which they can come above ground and feed on your strawberries, which drives me nuts!

Offline SnoHam13

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 275
  • Karma: 5
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: A couple of questions on Hugelkultur Bed
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2013, 11:44:28 AM »
Regarding the nitrogen sink issue, I think you're a lot better off using a cheaper nitrogen source like manure.  That's what I did to start my beds; I dug down to bedrock (about 18"), backfilled with 18" of logs, branches and woodchips, then covered it with 12-18" of horse manure, before laying down 12" of top soil.  I was creating terraces and using the rock I was pulling out for my retaining walls.  Besides getting a nitrogen rich fertilizer, I'm also filling any dead space between the logs so I'd have less compaction and I'm adding the bacteria to start the cellulose digestion process, since that's what is happening in a horses gut anyway.

As for doing hugelbeds in a greenhouse, well, my primary reason for hugelbeds is because I don't get regular rain and it gives the roots a sponge to get into that holds the water for weeks.  The downside and reason I might think twice about doing it in a greenhouse is because it becomes the perfect matrix for mice to tunnel in and build an elaborate network of tunnels, from which they can come above ground and feed on your strawberries, which drives me nuts!

all very good points
the horse/cow manure is a big issue [availability] and the bacteria to start the process is spot on
water isn't an issue [118'' of snow fall so far this season with 300'' average]rain in the summer is 4'' a week
the water runs on top of the bedrock under ground [ threw our basement too] and with the wood on the bedrock it will wick it up even in the green house
we have about 1''-1' fall off for the grade so a drain will be installed in the green house

mice is an issue I didn't consider [something to think about]

SnoHam13

http://www.pasty.com/snow/index.html

this a link to our local area
« Last Edit: December 23, 2013, 11:53:19 AM by SnoHam13 »

Offline Rick Larson

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 70
  • Karma: 1
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: A couple of questions on Hugelkultur Bed
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2013, 05:06:37 PM »
The adding of nitrogen will speed up decomposition. More = faster.

I would suggest experimenting with different wood with varying additions of nitrogen, including not adding any (nitrogen). I am concentrating on planting nitrogen fixing plants trees and shrubs instead of adding.

Offline Skunkeye

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1609
  • Karma: 90
Re: A couple of questions on Hugelkultur Bed
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2013, 08:55:37 AM »
You say you have lots of rock available for retaining walls.  In that case, what I think I'd do is build tall raised beds (maybe 24" deep) out of rock in your greenhouse, then put the wood in the bottom of those, manure on top of that, then 6-12" of soil on the top.  This raises the plants up to a comfortable working height, gives you walking room inside the greenhouse, and most importantly, all that rock mass will absorb heat during the day and radiate it back at night, regulating the temperature in the greenhouse.  You probably won't be growing tomatoes in January or anything, but you might gain an extra month on each end of your growing season without adding any supplemental heat sources, and keep it warm enough for brassicas and other frost-tolerant stuff in the winter.

Enclosed raised beds like that should also reduce or eliminate the mice problem, since they're not able to burrow and tunnel into the sides of the bed.

endurance

  • Guest
Re: A couple of questions on Hugelkultur Bed
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2013, 10:26:33 AM »
Skunkeye brings up a couple good points worth talking about.  To me, it was fascinating to go to CRMPI and discover that they had two different greenhouses going with two different climates.  One was a tropical greenhouse where they were growing passionfruit, bananas, and other tropical plants, while the other was a Mediterranean greenhouse that could get down to freezing, but not sub-zero like the climate outside.  This second greenhouse allowed for things like figs and kiwis, but not tropical plants.  It was much larger and didn't need as much heat input.  One never got below 55F during the winter, one got down into the high 20s during the winter (but had a very early frost-free "spring" for starting plants for outside planting later).

So recognize there can be different goals from a greenhouse and you just need to plant according to the temps you can maintain.

Also differentiated heated rock walls relative to the soils and beds leads to naturally circulating air currents that will help protect plants, too.

Offline SnoHam13

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 275
  • Karma: 5
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: A couple of questions on Hugelkultur Bed
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2013, 03:22:42 PM »
this is all great information keep it coming and thank you ;D

SnoHam13