Hugelkultur

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by matto, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    G'day,

    I know that hugelkultur has been discussed here, I would like to hear about anyones experience with it using Eucalypt.

    I have read that it may not be good to use known allelopathic trees such as cedar, walnut and eucalypt. Is allelopathy something that happens in live trees, I am wondering if the decomposition process stops this? Maybe it might take longer to see benefits.
    I have cut out some acacia and eucalypt so I am keen to try some, maybe a trial of both.

    I'd also like to hear your opinions on using it as a swale. Would you put it above your production area to collect water, possibly absorbing too much in the process, or at the bottom of your sloping area to catch excess nutrients (which I think is a great option anyway, and better to trial possible allelopathic trees)?

    Thanks
     
  2. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    g'day matto,

    i don't have hill culture experience, also never experienced this allelopathy spoken of, in times of drought stress an eucalypt may cause the area within its drip line to prevent the growth of another competing tree, but it does not do this with smaller plants and grasses, our best habitat was under gum trees, within the drip line so any dew that dripped didn't simply evaporate and there was a whole little system occuring of recycling dead material.

    the way i see it if you bury any material be it gum or other then at the very least there will be nitrogen take up until the timber breaks down, if you lay it on top ie.,. make a swale then it will have no effect. just gum tree will take a long time to break down under the soil. have also used tree loppe chip containing gum fresh on gardens with no ill effect. to sue in the way you want i think i would be wanting to split any sizable sections so there is maximum exposure to the conditions for the timber.

    len
     
  3. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    Thanks Len,
    I had a look around today, Im now in Coffs Harbour with plenty of rainfall, and didnt see much effect. Not like in Victoriawhich was quite noticeable on the surrounding grasses.
    So do you have annual beds directly under large Eucalypt? The problem with my site is that there are several large trees, so roots are all over it, but the soil is deep and rich.
    I think I will try different specie beds, splitting some, leaving others whole and mainly on the lower slopes for now. Ill keep tabs on this if people are interested.
    Thanks again.
     
  4. Glenn18

    Glenn18 Junior Member

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  5. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    g'day matto,

    when there is a drought or almost total lack of rain then nothing will grow under any tree let alone a gum as they take up the available near surface layers moisture and nutrients, i don't see that as allelopathy. as we found once the grasses and small weedy type plants took hold when it rained then there after no matter how dry it got they grew and by appearance thicker and taller than the same plants out away from the drip zone.

    i wouldn't be looking at planting any garden under or too near any tree, but with gums if you are outside the drip zone a couple of meters or so then you should have success.

    len
     
  6. lukepither

    lukepither New Member

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    Hugelkutur

    Hi Matto

    I have been experimenting with a combination of what Ive read on hugelkultur
    and some other ideas relating to heaped gardens

    What I did was
    Build the equivalent of a 2m diameter raised bed 40 cm high
    When I say build the process is to lay small logs ( Eucalypt, peppercorn
    and a variety of other native trees inc acacia ) brances, leaves, cuttings etc etc
    starting with the bottom logs, and moving to the top of the pile , leaves etc

    Add to this as almost a roof, lucerne and straw at a generous level to isolate
    what is effectively a native compost and
    then do the following

    Plant your crop ( I planted tomatoes and a variety of herbs )
    into the straw directly with a generous amount of fresh non native
    compost and instead of watering the plantings, add more fresh compost every
    three days. In this way the plants recieve all the moisture they require directly from
    the compost and the water that would normally be used doesnt overheat the 'native compost underneath.

    The tomatoes have now almost all finished, herbs eaten and the straw separation layer
    has all but disolved, Underneath the leaves branches and twig side of things have decomposed and the logs, which were wine bottle to double that in size have rapidly
    decomposed to about a third with mycelium everywhere!

    My plan now is to tumble the tomato plants into this compost, and start again with what has been created as a new third layer, ie the same process again but with this new compost as the plant additive!
     
  7. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    Nice work Luke, I have a bunch of green stuff I can load on so I will try your suggestion!
     
  8. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    I have heard about eucalyptus and alleopathic issues, but when I researched it I found nothing but good involved with composting it.

    Here's a Dept. of Agric. study:

    'Municipal sewage sludge, amended with Eucalyptus tree trimmings and composted. All test crops in the field experiment benefited from compost applications (table 2). Yields for onion, turf and spinach were significantly increased (5% level) by adding 5.5 or 11 dry tons of compost per acre; snapdragon yields were significantly increased with the adding of 11 tons of compost per acre. Also, compost applications favored early stand development. Stands rated visually 5 weeks after planting (data not shown) revealed compost applications benefited stand establishment for all test crops."

    https://californiaagriculture.ucanr.org/landingpage.cfm?article=ca.v047n03p22&fulltext=yes

    I have about 10 huge trees and while other trees haven't grown under them, blackberries love to be under them, and native shrubs also, you know where they grow there's lots of water. I'm not sure where the bad rep came from. I've been hauling as much of their stuff as I think they can do without :)
     
  9. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    [video=youtube;sp_IObIkInQ]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp_IObIkInQ[/video]

    [video=youtube;lWaEEdB6GZM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWaEEdB6GZM[/video]

    This was a post in the bichar forums

     
  10. nomadcanuck

    nomadcanuck Junior Member

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    I am making hugelkultur mounds here in Canada on the north coast of Lake Superior. Come check out my site and latest posting about making the mounds.

    www.permafarmer.blogspot.com
     
  11. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl when I get to plant a Ficus into an old Eucalypt stump.

    Allelopathy aside, after years of decay, digging into the middle of a stump will yield moist, soft, aerated soil with worms active as deep as you need to plant.

    Euc. tereticornis, a common tree here, will repel its own species from competing with itself, I've heard. But I'm with others, the most noticeable allelopathy a Euc will do, is sucking the life out of the earth in a large circle around itself. Given the right conditions, plenty of other plants survive, but it's a battle. I've planted many trees into parks and can guarantee the soil will be dry and lacking organic matter or soil life a fair distance from a significant tree. One of my constructed garden beds here competes with an Ironbark, and its roots filled it within one year, and extensively.

    I would like to stress to people interested in practising hugelkultur, that it doesn't need to be rotting logs added to garden beds. I've had the pleasure of working in many areas with large, rotting logs of all types and also abandoned piles of aged mulch and the final product, a dark/rich/spongy/moist soil type is the same (bar the potential loss of large aerated spaces in the mulch and faster cycle time). So, personally, I'd recommend if old logs availability, or any logs/large branches, is limited to you, use what you have or order in a load of chip (not exactly permaculture but hugelkultur) and wait for a year or 2, or go straight away with chip built straight into your beds. I'd estimate chip will reduce the breaking down process significantly but add to any bacterial drain on nutrients in the short term.

    This is based on limited experience, not science. Both in my employ, and with a load of hardwood chunks left inside my yard, untouched, for approximately a year.

    For interest's sake, I managed to recover 3 med-large, rotted Melaleuca leucadendron logs (Paperbark) and talk about spongy! Probably the softest I've seen so far. These will go into my Ironbark-bashed bed.
     
  12. bwendo

    bwendo New Member

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    When we moved to this place we cut down some trees to make space for the backyard - left most big trees, just removed weed trees.

    All the stumps and branches went down in gutter that had formed in the dampest, lowest part of the site, backing onto a busy road.

    Now, four years later, I have kept adding cut offs and branches to the pile and it has rotted down well, much like a Hugelkultur bed.
     

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