SQWIB
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Raised Hugelkultur Beds

I thought I would post my latest Hugelkultur build. I see folks asking build questions and was hoping some can glean some information from this post. I did not post in the Permaculture forum because I felt it would benefit more folks in the raised bed area. This is my 6th bed I built since last year. I will update this as it progresses.


Raised Bed #6
Hugelkultur Bed



A few weeks ago I was eyeing up the yard and admiring the Hugelkultur beds. I thought about last seasons crops that were in the “Air Pruning Pots” that were along the side of the fence and was figuring out how to set it up for next season.
After much thought weighing the "pros" and "cons", I decided to build another Hugelkultur bed along the side of the fence. This will be my 6th bed but 8th box, 9 if you count Moms Hugel Bed.
The plants did good in the Air Pruning Pots, but not as good as the raised bed plants. One of the "pros" to the “Air Pots” was they were mobile and at the end of the season I could move them up onto the hill and open the yard up a bit. But this was also a "Con", because the bags could be pretty heavy when wet and storing on the hill looks a little unsightly. So after one year of the Air Pruning Pots, I decided that I didn't want to be bothered putting the “Air Pots” away each season and wanted something more permanent. I will continue to use a few on the side patio.
This bed will be 24” deep by 20' long, I will loose some of the yard but another "pro" is that I can use the beds to straighten and support the fence, however, the cost of building the bed is another "con".

My biggest "con" is that the box turtles hibernate in this corner, so I will have to dig out the corner in front of the corner of the bed and add leaf mulch and wood mulch so they can still hibernate there.
Here is what I did to straighten out the fence using the Hugel Bed.
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This is my shopping list;  6 bags manure
 4 bags mulch


January 18, 2017

Earlier this week I checked the weather forecast and Saturday calls for sunny and 58°, after seeing the forecast I decided to knock out the bed this weekend. The day after I purchased the wood, I checked the weather again and the forecast is still 58° but cloudy, no matter, it will be dry, It's been wet the last few weeks and looks like more rain the beginning of next week.
I Picked up most of the wood at Home depot, still need to pick up the cap and side pieces.
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These are freaking heavy when wet. I stacked them in the back yard and picked out the cleanest 4 pieces that will be for the front of the bed.
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January 20, 2017

I dropped my son off at school and stopped in my usual spot to pick up some Hugel Wood.
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January 21, 2017


The weather was mild but very wet so I figured on getting muddy today. After I double checked the best pieces for the facade I carefully dug out the one corner checking for turtles, yep found one. I dug a new hole a few feet away, filled with loose soil and mulch then dug out a slot and placed the turtle back in and covered with some light dirt and mulch. I dug out the raspberry bush and will put that in the Hugelkultur bed. I had to move the underground hoses so they wouldn't get pinched.
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This spot is 20' wide exactly so I will be fitting this as tight as possible. The irrigation line will need to be reworked. The hoses to the left of the picture were adjusted also to avoid pinching off.

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I had Air Pruning Pots here for 2016.
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This is the hardware I will be using. It may seem like overkill but it makes building the beds so much easier especially considering I can't get on the back side to drive the screws.
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Build.
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Tight Fit.
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After the bottom half is done I try leveling and straightening the beds the best I can.
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After all the boxes were completed I readjusted the beds one more time then called it a day, I was muddy, sore and tired. I slipped into some sweat pants popped four Advil, made a cup of coffee and watched an episode of Dexter and I was feeling much better. Now for some venting, what really pisses me off is that I am busting my stones trying to get every piece cut and to fit almost perfectly but when I start putting the boxes together, the width varies 1/4" from one end to the next on the 2x10's, 9-1/4" on one side and 9" on the other side, this should be illegal. Whats next, a nominal 2"x 10" actual will be a 1"x 8"?
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January 22, 2017

The next day the weather was poor, it was misting all day and the yard was mostly mud but I wanted to get this done so I could get the wood, leaves, compost and other materials in the bed, we are supposed to be getting a lot of rain and figured it would benefit the bed. I stopped at Home depot to get some more wood. I decided on a permanent support system for the plants so I will be adding two 4"x4"x10' supports, they will be dug in and the finished height from the top of the bed to the top of the posts will be 7'.
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Three 5" lags are installed and the corners of the box are beefed up
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Tops of the bed are capped
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Filling with wood.
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Had the kids rake the leaves from the front yard and toss in the beds.
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I still have to replant the Raspberry bush, add the upright supports and tweak the watering system. I will be removing the end top piece on the finished bed and install a wider piece for a neater transition between the new bed and the finished bed, also I need to remove the 6" upright in the front of the finished bed and move over the seam of the new bed and finished bed. 
I still need to dig out a little of the soil in the front of the bed, this soil will be tossed on top of the leaves.

Over the next several months I will be adding compost from my compost pile and 6 bags of manure, some potting soil, soil from the Air Pots and perlite.

I also need to dig out the finished bed to the far left and install another 4"x4"x10' upright for the permanent support system. This is gonna be a chore because of the wood in the bed, my only other option is to put the upright on the outside which I do not want to do unless I have no other choice.

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applestar
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Re: Raised Hugelkultur Beds

Looking GOOD! :D Thanks for starting this -- I'll be following your progress updates 8)
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Raised Hugelkultur Beds

Your boxes are very sturdy and well built!

You are right about this: "Over the next several months I will be adding compost from my compost pile and 6 bags of manure, some potting soil, soil from the Air Pots and perlite." So far you have only carbon materials and will need to put a lot of nitrogen with it as well as just some soil for plants to grow in, since the wood won't be breaking down for awhile.

I plan to be building a hugelkultur bed to be a raised berm in my front yard, this spring. Where it will go is currently lawn. So my plan is to strip the sod off, dig down a little bit, lay the logs and branches down, treat them with a fungal inocculant to help break the wood down, put down some of the soil I dug out and some blood meal for quick N, and then the sod I took off, grass side down. Then I will cover it with a mixture of more soil, compost, aged horse manure from the ranch behind us. Then I will plant shrubs and small trees into it with a front edging of flowers and mulch everything well. I expect to have to keep fertilizing everything planted there for the first year or two.

I couldn't find a picture that just matches what I have in mind, but something like this, more or less 8' by 20.'

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I will build it tall at first, knowing that it will settle over the years. But of course so far it is all just fantasy.
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Asica
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Re: Raised Hugelkultur Beds

Great job. I did one hugelkultur too. I used wood panels and put them together so they create little tent shape. Then I put wood inside my little tent and covered everything with compost. I plant strawberries in it. So far so good.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Raised Hugelkultur Beds

Asica wrote:Great job. I did one hugelkultur too. I used wood panels and put them together so they create little tent shape. Then I put wood inside my little tent and covered everything with compost. I plant strawberries in it. So far so good.
Sounds great! Please show us a picture! :)
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

SQWIB
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Re: Raised Hugelkultur Beds

January 28th, 2016
It was a sad day today, I cut down my Red Maple, I planted this 25 years ago and it just died all of a sudden. I hadn't the heart to burn up the wood so I figured it would make me feel better if it sustained new life over the next 10 years or so. Some will be split and used in the pit and some will be chunked for the smoker.
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I removed all the leaves from the bed and placed the red maple in the beds. Sad little coffin!
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Topped with some compost from the compost bin, some clay soil from the yard, followed by the leaves then I emptied my air pruning pots into the beds, the Air Pots had , peat, manure, topsoil and perlite in them.
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I'll probably toss a few bags of mulch in front of the beds for a path, my yard can get pretty swampy. I'm all ready to plant, just need to tweak the irrigation line, add the top cap pieces, vertical pieces and finish the vertical support. I will stain the bed and may add lights in the fall.
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I ran out of money but not Mojo so I dug out the other end of the bed, there was some wood in the way that I cut with a sawzall and one piece I had to split with a splitting wedge, then I hit a piece of granite with the post hole digger and got out the hammer drill... forget that... I gave up after 30 minutes and just decided the extra 10" wasn't worth it!
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Well the whole day didn't go as planned, we blew a brake-line on the suburban and I had to drive home with no brakes, wife was having a conniption the whole way home, I used the brakes one time on a twenty minute drive...IN THE CITY, wasn't fun.
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February 5th, 2017.


I finished installing the vertical support line.
Notched the side top plate
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I had to cut 9" off of this upright because I hit a hunk of granite that I couldn't get through. Installed the Carriage Bolts.
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Back filled with stone, wood , ash and soil.
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Next up was the cable, this will be 36' long.
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There were only about 3" of threading on these eye bolts but I wanted as much adjustment as possible so I had to thread these further. What disappointed me was that the shaft diameter is slightly a smaller diameter of the threaded end so I don't have a full thread (Threads are flat)
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Thread comparison.
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Holes are drilled in the uprights, slightly larger than the eye bolts so they can move freely. Cable is looped and secured at one end around the eyebolt using the cable connectors. The cable is run to the other end and adjusted to the proper length and looped and secured with the cable connectors. Yes, Home Depot screwed up and gave me two different size cable connectors, but it was 25°F outside and I just wanted to get this done. I may change out the 3/16" with the 3/32" some day if I'm bored.
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I'm happy with the support for the upcoming year, but more importantly, my wife is very happy with the streamlined support system, when she's happy I'm Happy!
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applestar
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Re: Raised Hugelkultur Beds

Thanks very much! It's really neat to see these construction projects being done by someone who knows what he's doing -- step by step.

I often have the ideas but not the necessary knowhow (or physical capability) for the execution.... :?
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

SQWIB
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Re: Raised Hugelkultur Beds

February 5th, 2017

Since my brain is in garden mode the last few weeks, and that is all I can think about. I have been thinking about the support system, I was looking for a way to tighten the cable without tools, at first I was going to use a winch type adjustment but decided it was overkill and I do have a tendency to over engineer stuff. I want it simple enough where I can say to one of the kids, "Hey go outside and tighten the cable a bit", yes I do have a kid named "Hey". Here is what I came up with.

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If you look closely you can see the needle bearing sandwiched between the washer.

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The locking nut isn't really needed but I figured I would just toss it on.

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SQWIB
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Re: Raised Hugelkultur Beds

February 18th, 2017

I'm Slacking, forgot to update this post.

The weather forecast is calling for a high of 60°F today and even higher tomorrow, so I figured I would get some of my gardening done this weekend.


Finished the uprights on the new Hugelkultur bed, cleaned out the fire pit and spread the ashes and bits of wood on the beds.
Also put on the last few cap pieces, the one to the far left where the stained bed meets the new bed, I cut a piece that tapers wide in the back to narrow in the front to set the vertical tower on.


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