Monthly Archives: December 2011
Ok, so here is my first Hugel pit surrounded by a raised bed.
Since DFW has clay soils I could not have ton this without a Mattock pick. I got mine at Lowes for just under $30 and it has been worth every penny. I also snagged a wheelbarrow off of Craigslist for $20 and that combined with the Mattock pick has made this entire process much simpler and faster.
I usually dig down about 3″-6″ with a shovel and set that dirt aside to mix into the raised bed later. I then bust out my Mattock pick and start pickin’ away. When digging clay soils you will pull up large chunks of hardened clay and it does get tiring. The clay gets put into its own pile to be used later while filling the pits back up. Generally the deeper the better but as long as you go to a depth of 12″ you should be fine.
TIP: It is much easier to dig clay after a long soaking rain. Trust me, I tried in July 2011 while it was 107 degrees and no rain for over a month….I don’t recommend it. If you haven’t had any rain in some time you should lay a soaker hose over the area you plan to dig and let the water soak in for a couple of hours.
I then filled the bottom of the pit with small twigs and branches from a large oak tree I cut down in the backyard. On top of those I placed many medium sized logs interspersed with large logs.
At this point I started filling in the pit with the clay I dug out and added some cow manure for an additional nitrogen source. The first year or so of decomposition will trap some of the nitrogen in the pit but that nitrogen will again become available to plants as decomposition accelerates.
Cover everything with more dirt and add another bag of manure. Tamp down everything as best you can either by walking on it or use a tamper. Then place your raised bed on top, make sure it’s level and secure. Fill in the outside edges of your raised bed with more clay and tamp it down.
One aspect of permaculture I really respect is the reuse of old discarded items. After a quick trip up to the attic to search for a few things I found this old metal table frame. It used to have a thick piece of glass that overlaid it but the glass broke and rather than pay for new glass or throw it away, I thought it might make a good base for a salad box.
Not wanting to spend any money on this little experiment I rummaged through my scrap wood and realized I had enough old boards and what not to complete this project. First thing was to build a base around the top of the table and add some support. Next I stapled some chicken wire to the base for some added support.
Lastly, I wanted to cover the box with black sheeting to help absorb heat in the winter and cover up the construction work.
The black plastic was pulled tight, stapled, and the remaining material was trimmed off.
If given the chance to do it again I would probably just make the box a uniform size. Oh well! If you’re not experimenting with your gardening your not doing it right.
This being my first post I just wanted to say that the main reason for this blogs creation was that it seemed an easy way to document my backyard gardening.
The plan is to slowly transform my backyard into a permaculture food forest. Given the small size of my lot I will not have all 5 zones and no livestock, at least not yet. However, it will consist of multiple fruit trees, various berries, perennial and annual herbs, and of course vegetables. I will also incorporate swales (ditch on contour) and hugelkultur (logs covered in soil) into the sites design.
The hugelkultur links show more mound style hugelkultur, which I will be implementing, but it doesn’t really show any hugel pits. A hugel pit is just a 1′-3′ hole that is filled with wood and other organic material up to ground level. Then you can either surround the pit with a raised bed planter, rocks, other logs, or just leave it as is. The design choices are entirely up to you.
The back-half of my yard will be the food forest section. Not sure yet if I want to have footpaths in the back half of the yard or just let it go completely wild.
My raised beds are closer to my back door for easy access. So far I have 4 raised beds in total: 2 4×4 beds, 1 4×6 bed, and 1 4×10. I plan on adding one more 4×10 but after that I will most likely be done with raised beds…my girlfriend thinks I’m crazy as it is and digging more holes to fill with old wood only adds to her argument 🙂
I don’t plan on updating this blog daily but will try to do at least 1-2 updates a week.