Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hugelkultur Modification for Sandy Soil

I posted about this with pictures and everything. Really, I did. But that post has gone to blogger Valhalla so I'll try to reconstruct it. Hugelkultur was originally intended to cope with heavy, soggy soils. The branches and logs get piled up and then a berm of soil is raised over them. I have sandy soil and rainfall drains away much to quickly. So here's how I modified hugelkultur to my growing conditions.

I dig a trench about 20 inches deep and maybe 12 inches wide. I don't get worked up over exact measurements.The size of the trench is determined by my stock of logs and the limits of my own energy.

Then I fill it with logs up to the original soil line.

Then I use the excavated soil to build a berm over the log filled trench. Because I'm fighting sandy soil and Bermuda grass, I then over the whole berm with weed barrier.

I've laid down scrap lumber to make a walkway. Then I cut holes in the weed barrier and plant in the holes. These two berms have been planted with potatoes. The logs soak up water and hold it in the root zone, containing runoff. Because the logs are buried deep enough to get little oxygen they decompose in a way that does not rob nitrogen from the soil.

Eventually the logs will break down, giving back to the soil all the good nutrients the tree stored up in its lifetime. While my beds aren't to that point yet, I've already seen a big difference in how often I have to water. I water less because the rainfall stays in my beds, held by the soggy logs.

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