Experiment in Hugelkultur, Humanure, and Biochar

Decided to take the day off from projects and just play while I got the laundry on the line. So what do I decide to do? Play in the dirt of course! When Alex first arrived this summer he dug a sleeping trench but never finished it. I needed to fill it back in but thought since the dirt had been dug might as well use the hole. My plan was to just throw some chips in the bottom for a hugelkulter experiment which was implanted in my brain when I moved a bale of moldy hay the other day and found the bottom was still wet AND when I moved the branches I cut up with the DR, they were still wet at the bottom of the pile despite 2 months of high temperature and no rain. Well, as I was gathering up the wood chips my mind started playing and here is what happened.

Apparently my way of filling in a trench is to dig it to twice its width and twice its original depth which leads to a hole about 6 feet by 3 feet and 18 inches deep. The bottom of which I loosened with my garden fork another 6 inches.

Next I add a barrow full of humanure from my curing pile. This excited the chickens to no end because they finally got a chance at the kagillion earth worms that make the pile their home. Those birds gorged themselves!

Next I added three barrows full of wood/bark chips from the area where we pile and split our wood. This will become the sponge that will hold and retain water during the long summer months from which the plants can delicately sip with their roots. I put the layer of compost below it to encourage the roots further down past the water level.

Next I layered two more cart loads of compost/humanure with the dirt from the hole making up the body of the bed.

Then I topped the bed off with one more cart load of humanure which I let the chickens work down into the soil. Little rototilling monsters! Might as well put them to work.

While I was in the shower getting cleaned up, I thought about how I should water the bed to activate the microorganism in the soil which made me think “Damn! I forgot the biochar!” My source is the charcoal left over from the twigs I burn in the rocket stove. They have no nutritional value but the micro-holes gather and store microorganisms that do increase the fertility of the soil. I mixed it in with my weird two pronged fishing gaff. I don’t know if it is a fishing gaff, or a potato digger or an instrument for a torture chamber but it works well for tons of things around this place like pulling over piles of branches and stripping composite roofing off roofs…..

So here is where I left it. A little muddy because I watered it thoroughly…..with buckets of water that I hauled over by the way adding even more to my daily mileage count….I will let this soak in over night then add some more. I am thinking that I will make a fence around it then cover it in straw. Next spring I will plant it with the three sisters and see what happens.