Hugelkultur Boxes?

Alright, so before we begin, this is all new to me. Actually, pretty much all gardening is new to me, but I’ve always been a bit adventurous and experimental, so here I am.

When I was a kid, my mom and my nana were gardeners. They had big gardens in the ground that got rototilled up at the start and end of every gardening season. I thought that was all there was to it.

Then my stepdad built some 4’x8′ raised beds instead of the traditional bed. They grew lots of food in them, and it seemed easier to look after. That seemed a lot better than packing down the soil in between the rows.

And now, since I have been looking into permaculture, I find out about hugelkultur. If you haven’t heard about it, click on the link. It’s pretty neato.

So, yesterday, we were at the dump tearing our trailer apart, when we found some pretty big crates. Once the deck was clear, we loaded them up and took them home. Gerri seemed a bit hesitant, but she is pretty good at letting me have my head.

When we got the boxes home, I set to figuring out what to do. I knew I was going to plant in them, but they were two feet deep, and I didn’t want to use that much soil or fill them up with rocks. Then it hit me.

Hugelkultur in a box!

I had just felled a couple of dirty poplar the day before, so I measured out the inside of the box and started sawing logs for the bottom. I also had a couple of dead birch limbs that went into the mix.

I didn’t say they were fancy.

I filled in the cracks with a mix of wet fruitwood chips and half finished compost. I figured it would help with the decomposition of the green wood.

Then I put in a layer of twigs and leaves.

I’m guessing that this is a decent nitrogen layer.

I don’t know if it was a good idea, but it seemed good in my mind, so why not? Experiments are for experimenting, right?

After that, some more soaked chips.

Should I keep going? Okay, I will.

I then put a few more inches of the composting mix, because why not? That’s what I’m making all of this beautiful, rich stuff for.

Mmmmmm, soily.

Now a friend, who shall remain nameless, grows in pots every year and then throws the soil mix out, because they think that they have used all of the nutrients in it.

Believe me, they haven’t. Last year I watched as they mixed their soil and there was peat moss, Pro-Mix® HP, some other organic fertilizer, perlite, bloodmeal, bonemeal and bales of compost.

It was absolutely beautiful. Then, in the fall, I was asked to help with a dump run and there were fourteen heavy black garbage bags in the pile. I asked what they were and was told they were full of the used soil.

So here they are now.

I’ve been mixing it into everything!

Other than it was full of roots and stems from the flowers, there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. A few hours of picking through and composting the browns gave me a lot of excellent soil for this year. I only hope that they grow the same amount again. I have already called dibs on it, and helped for free to sweeten the pot.

I soaked it all pretty good today, and I was going to mix up tomatoes and green peppers in here tomorrow. It gets about 7-9 hours of sunlight in a few different increments of 2-3 hours each where it is and from what I read, that is probably enough.

What do you folks think? Will this setup work? Should I be planting something else in it? I also have a few cabbage seedlings. I’m open to any feedback I can get.

My Little Worm Project

As I was  poking around on Red Worm Composting, I saw that Bentley was doing an experiment with four red wigglers in a ziplock bag of bedding and food. I thought it was pretty neat, so I borrowed his idea to try on my own. Just to see how long it would take to get a worm bin going with two breeding pairs of worms.

As you can see, I opted for a plastic tub container instead of a bag. That was mainly for my personal preference in being able to poke around in it to see any babies or pests that might have got in. (I killed a red mite and two fungus gnats in there already.)

In my experience with worms, so far, I have found that they like hiding in folds.

I use a lot of shredded newspaper in my bigger bins, because we get flyers and stuff here and there, but I find that the worms really like the paper that comes in the Amazon.ca boxes, so I used that. I think it’s kraft paper, but not sure. It comes pre-crumpled, and they love to burrow into the moist folds and lay their cocoons.

I also put a carrot, some chopped kale, and a bit of red pepper slurry in, so there were different stages of decomposition.

I did all of this on April 11, 2017. Today is May 1.

I noticed quite a few castings and the food seems to be getting eaten up pretty well. There is basically just carrot left, so it will soon be time to add some more. The bedding is holding up quite well, so I foresee it lasting quite a while longer. I don’t think I was quite prepared for the scope of this, because I know that the cocoons have been hatching, but it’s going to be a while before they are breeding.

See him/her poking their bum out? Right in the middle of the carrot.

Even though it will take a while, I realised that if someone did get themselves a dozen red worms, it would go by pretty quick until one day you looked in and had a pound or so.

Another worm butt.

I threw a little bit of potting soil in as well, for grit, but I’m also going to sprinkle ground egg shells in also. I will probably update this every few months, because I know now that every month won’t have many changes.

Oh yeah, one more thing before I go.

Unfocused babies, but babies nonetheless.

Chris