More kultur than yoghurt

Hugelkultur that is. πŸ˜€

I finally found motivation and got my backside out into the garden to a) tidy up a little (not enough), b) build some hugelkultur beds and c) finish off some more of the pond.

We spent the morning heading out to Newlyn where there is a lovely antiques store and heritage fruit nursery and also a water gardens nursery which was sadly closed (I will be back!) before heading home to a cold rainy and windy afternoon. Why is it that when I have motivation the weather decides to do her best to thwart me? So, armed with snow jacket, gloves and a hat I got stuck in.

The over hang of the plastic is held in place with stones and poplar logs

The over hang of the plastic is held in place with stones and poplar logs.

The logs will decay over time, absorbing water and attracting wonderful mycorrhizae to the soil

The logs will decay over time, absorbing water and attracting wonderful mycorrhizae to the soil.

At first these garden beds will be lower in nitrogen as the nitrogen is used to assist in breaking down the wood, making these ideal for plants that are not nitrogen lovers.

At first these garden beds will be lower in nitrogen as the nitrogen is used to assist in breaking down the wood, making these ideal for plants that are not nitrogen lovers.

These will make wonderful beds for corn, pumpkins, zucchini, watermelons,  even potatoes.

These will make wonderful beds for corn, pumpkins, zucchini, watermelons, even potatoes.

I plan to grow strawberries here as a permanent crop although I think they might be a year or two off being planted here. I need the soil structure to be improved first.

I plan to grow strawberries here as a permanent crop although I think they might be a year or two off being planted here. I need the soil structure to be improved first.

In soggy fashion (but without melting) I moved a peach tree we’d planted last year, built up the pond side hugelkultur bed and the next one too, laying down poplar branches and logs, lucerne mulch and then finally some blood and bone to help it all break down. It’s been a good afternoon. Jasper came out to help me and was a champ at breaking up the lucerne (he loved that the bales break down into the smaller biscuits of lucerne – Mummy NEVER gives him 20 biscuits ever! πŸ˜‰ ) and also helping bring over branches. We got both beds finished too which is amazing and the rain will be washing the blood and bone down into the mulch and timber (hopefully not washing it away though), soaking into it all and getting it nice and ready for soil on top which I hope to be able to organise in the next few days.

IMG_6631

The miniature peach is on the very edge of a hugelkultur bed which means it will benefit from the nutrients and soil life in the bed but it will not be affected as the beds rot down and shrink.

The peach is just in the bottom left hand corner here. The cardboard area in the middle is large enough for a small seat which will be pleasant as the peach grows a little taller.

The peach is just in the bottom left hand corner here. The cardboard area in the middle is large enough for a small seat which will be pleasant as the peach grows a little taller and provides some shade.

My little helper attacking the biscuits.

My little helper attacking the biscuits.

He probably moved nearly 1/2 of the lucerne mulch! A highly efficient worker.

Jasper probably moved nearly 1/2 of the lucerne mulch by himself! A highly efficient worker who had a blast helping Mummy out in the rain.

Next step is to organise some mulch to spread out for the pathways which are currently just cardboard and then to lay out more cardboard over the next section of lawn weedy grass and get the next bed or two in place. I’m considering putting my name down on this free mulch site I came across as well as checking out local transfer stations (tips) once we get a tow ball for our new car (Mitsubishi Delica turbo diesel 4×4 known as Samson). Β There are still plenty of poplar trees standing that need chopping down and they will not go to waste. We are hoping that by chopping down the large trunks they will send out local side shoots (hopefully not widespread) which will allow us to harvest the leaves at a manageable height and feed them to our goat(s). It’s all helping to close the loop and keep everything on our property – little in, little out. Closing the loop brings us more in line with permaculture principles. πŸ™‚

As for remaining work to be done in the next few months or sooner, there is the huge pile of firewood logs that need moving and chopping up (which you can see in the background in some of the photos) before storing somewhere to continue to cure, about 3 or 4 cubic metres of red gum logs that need to be shifted from their current location in the middle of the driveway to our front deck (also in the photos, behind the bath tub) so they can continue to season as well as be easily accessible for the fireΒ , the espalier posts and wires to be sunk and fitted where the firewood logs currently reside, the cherry garden bed to be built along the front deck, and then the blueberry and (hopefully) cranberry garden bed to be built too. Not much really. πŸ˜‰ The list seems endless but the advantage of a last frost date of November means we get a little more leeway for planting out some of our veggies (I hope). Still, we are into their last month or two in which I can realistically plant our fruit trees and shrubs so I need to swing into action with a little more frequency. Fortunately most of what needs doing is just heavy lifting and we don’t need to budget the finances for hard slog. Here’s hoping the next few weekends bring motivation and finer weather than we’ve had here today. πŸ™‚

It's hard to tell in an iPhone photo but the rain is coming down pretty heavily. I only wish we had a water tank hooked up.

It’s hard to tell in an iPhone photo but the rain is coming down pretty heavily. I only wish we had a water tank hooked up.

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13 thoughts on “More kultur than yoghurt

  1. Lynda says:

    Great Work Twinn family. I hope you all dont come down with colds. Looks like it was a hard slog weekend for all. Fun Isnt it!

    • It IS fun! I wouldn’t be out there if there wasn’t some part of me having an absolute ball getting wet and muddy and all the rest. It’s deeply satisfying to build something with your own hands – garden, woodwork, bread, whatever it might be. πŸ™‚

  2. Linne says:

    I’ve always resisted getting out in those conditions, too; then, when I do, I find I love it, stay longer than ever intended and truly relish the warmth of the fire, hot soup or whatever and a cosy cuddleup with a blanket, good book and hot cup o’ something! Then I wonder why I resisted . . . and next time, guess what?? I resist all over again! Crazy, isn’t it??

    Lovely job you all did and I ws SO impressed by Jasper’s sticking with it and getting so much done . . . his future looks pretty bright if he keeps that up!

    Have to say I envy all of you heading towards spring . . . our days are already noticeably shorter (but still long!) and I’m not looking forward to months of blank white and icy sidewalks. Not to mention those (admittedly not too frequent) days of -30 or worse. Oh, well, it’s supposed to be good for longevity, as it keeps the inner thermostat working, I hear. πŸ™‚

    I also loved seeing the hugelkulture beds under construction; very inspiring for a dreamer like me . . .

    Do you have any strawberry plants already? If not, you might want to grow some in plant pots, then you will have runners and little plants to get your bed going once it’s ready.

    Gotta go; I have a few other blogs to drop in on and a post of my own to get underway. ~ Linne

    • I do have some strawberries – 2 plants that came free with a Siggers club purchase a few months ago and the tenacious things are still wrapped up but greening up amazingly. I’m well impressed with them actually.
      We’ve been out in the garden again today, moving the pile of red gum (hardwood) as it’s in the way and still out in the weather. Sure it’s aging out there but it’s also collecting a lot of rain and it’s then wet when we want to burn it. Heavy and hard work and I ached when I started, but an hour into it and I feel much more limber. And a bowl of hot minestrone soup right now is just bliss!
      Jasper is again helping me with the promise of puddle jumping at the end of the job but his staying power and focus is a little lacking. πŸ˜‰ Still, he’s helping me heaps movng the smaller and more manageable logs so I’m not complaining. πŸ™‚
      Just like you aren’t looking forward to the icy days and monotonous white, I too am not jumping up and down with joy at the prospect of days at a time over 35C or even over 40C and the nights where the house just can’t be cooled below about 25C.Days of sweat, flies and the risk of snakes returns with the warmth too. Still, the seasons will turn and I’m itching to start planting seeds and the like. Summer is a wondrous time in the garden if you can keep the water up to it all. And I do like the spring weather when it’s not raining. I even saw a pear tree at a nursery the other day about to blossom and my Erlicheers are budding up too. It’s a timely warning to get out and get that garden finished.

  3. love it when little helpers are having fun helping. Double whammy πŸ™‚
    I’m intrigued by your garden bed, I’d love to see it in a years time.

    • Lol, gee well now the pressure is on. πŸ˜‰
      Hugelkultur beds are long term garden beds, the wood taking years and years to break down, all the while holding water and slowly releasing their goodness into the soil. They need the nitrogen hit to get started though to prevent nitrogen draw down which starves the plants. The other great advantage of the beds is that they increase plantable space with larger surface area than the flat ground. They can be raised in areas that may become waterlogged or built into a depressed garden bed in arid areas to retain moisture. Dr Google, my dear friend is a wondrous help and can explain far more eloquently thN ever I could. πŸ™‚

  4. narf77 says:

    You could always plant nitrogenous plants (with nitrogen fixing nodes) to balance out the nitrogen lost. Try anything from the fabaceae family including peas, beans, lots of acacia…there are HEAPS of members of that family, a lot of ornamentals as well that would do well there :).

    • Tagasaste and wattle are planned as both are good goat fodder too. I’ve just got to balance out our food trees and the shade from them against nitrogen fixers. Planting low nitrogen plants like pumpkins and corn and zucchini is my plan for the hugelkuktur beds in spring as they will help the beds to get through the first year and spring 2014 will see other plants like tomatoes and the like in the front garden. It’s a good lesson in patience for me. I believe onions do well in hugelkuktur beds too so plenty of options. πŸ™‚ Oh and as you say, the beans and peas too. πŸ˜€

  5. Robbie says:

    I never knew that this was known as “hugelkultur”, but I used logs for years to make my raised beds. I even used logs as edging for years until I found some old bricks. I did not know you had to watch what you planted in the space( lack of nitrogen). Really neat that your children are involved. Reading your post made me think of the days my yard was filled with cardboard paths:-)

  6. […] front gardens have ground to a halt sadly since my last update on them. When Martin was gathering wood from off our block across our creek the other week the […]

  7. […] blogged before (here,Β here, here, here, here, here, andΒ here) about our ongoing hugelkultur experiments. Hugelkultur literally means “hill […]

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