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Wood Pallets Hugelkultur Bed

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Post  OhioGardener on 4/30/2020, 9:45 am

I am building a new raised bed (DW: Don't you have enough beds?), and this one will also use the Hugelkultur method to fill the bottom one foot.  But, I am lacking in enough brush and chunks of wood to completely fill the bottom of the new bed. I have access to an unlimited number of old wood pallets, and wondering if that wood would work if loosely stacked in the bottom of the beds? All of them use untreated hardwood, so it would slowly decompose. The neighbor kids would love to bust the pallets apart, and pull the nails out. Very Happy 

Has anyone tried using milled lumber for Hugelkultur vs brush?  My only thought is that the wood may pack too tightly and block water flow for drainage. Any other thoughts?

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Post  sanderson on 5/2/2020, 5:15 am

Fill the gaps with clean sand?

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Post  Dan in Ct on 5/2/2020, 7:34 am

It is my understanding that using brush with the bark and maybe leaves will give you a larger diversified nutrient bank rather than pallets, basically a carbon source. With brush you get minerals plus carbon whereas the pallets will be just carbon. May take longer to become productive and may have to overcome nitrogen draft but you can keep an eye out and react with appropriate measures and methods.
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Post  OhioGardener on 5/21/2020, 2:33 pm

It is interesting to see what happened to the wood in a Hugelkultur bed after it has been there for 4 years. This Aussie had a raised bed that he had to repair which had been built as a Hugelkultur bed four years ago, and decided to see what happened with all the wood after that time. It surprised me how much of the wood was still there after 4 years.


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Post  mollyhespra on 5/22/2020, 9:37 pm

Good vid!
So did you end up using the pallets, OG?
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Post  OhioGardener on 5/23/2020, 8:16 am

@mollyhespra wrote:Good vid!
So did you end up using the pallets, OG?

Not yet, all things requiring bending or lifting have been put on hold. Planned on installing drip irrigation to the new beds by the first of June, but that's on hold, too.

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Post  donnainzone5 on 5/23/2020, 11:16 am

That's what I've always thought about this method.  it does take many years for the wood to fully break down.

I much prefer using the SFG method, which instantly provides the ideal growing medium.
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Post  OhioGardener on 5/23/2020, 1:44 pm

@donnainzone5 wrote:I much prefer using the SFG method, which instantly provides the ideal growing medium.

I have been doing a combination of both. My beds are 18" high, so I have been filling first 12" with wood, putting straw on top of that, and then filling the top 6" with a modified MM. The original beds were filled with 12" of topsoil, and then the top 6" filled with modified MM. The beds have been doing equally well, except that the topsoil in the original beds tends to get compacted and I have fork it every once in a while to loosen it. The advantage of the ones filled with topsoil, though, is that I can plant deep root crops such as Carrorts, Daikon, Sweet Potatoes, etc., in those beds. The ones with the Hugelkultur fill don't have enough room for the deep roots.

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Post  Dan in Ct on 5/24/2020, 7:52 am

My experience with wood in soil is limited to the popsicle sticks I use to identify my seedlings when I pot up to solo cups. Some I keep watering all season long that didn't get sold or given away, by the end of the season at the end of September/beginning of October the bottom half of the popsicle stick is usually gone. Faded away into the mix and it is done entirely by the microbiology which I find fascinating. It would be interesting to bury one log and leave one log out to see which is incorporated back into a soil amendment quicker.
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