Anybody used hugelkulture? share thoughts, please

Joel_BC

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I was suddenly locked out of Permies at one point, too. And I agree that many of the ideas are theoretical and have not been tried. Or have not been tried in comparison with more realistic ways of doing things. I followed the owner some years ago and found him to be a big talk no action type, unable to answer any questions on anything he posted. He mostly posted other people's ideas and at one time use this forum to direct people to his site.
The agricultural exemplar they most often point to on the Permies site is Sepp Holzer (Google that name with Google Images and you'll get a swack of hits). There's also a Wikipedia article about Holzer. Thing is, he inherited a multi-generational farm with farm equipment to move earth around. And he developed his own methods & techniques over many years.

Some of Holzer's experiments didn't work out, some did - so he's continued with the ones that worked. But his approach to various things developed in-place. So some of the aspects of his approach wouldn't necessarily work in other situations.

I'm not sure if his farm in itself is a profitable business, it might be... But I've read that his household earns money by conducting paid tours.
 

freemotion

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The agricultural exemplar they most often point to on the Permies site is Sepp Holzer (Google that name with Google Images and you'll get a swack of hits). There's also a Wikipedia article about Holzer. Thing is, he inherited a multi-generational farm with farm equipment to move earth around. And he developed his own methods & techniques over many years.

Some of Holzer's experiments didn't work out, some did - so he's continued with the ones that worked. But his approach to various things developed in-place. So some of the aspects of his approach wouldn't necessarily work in other situations.

I'm not sure if his farm in itself is a profitable business, it might be... But I've read that his household earns money by conducting paid tours.
No, that's not who I'm talking about. I was referring to the list owner at least at the time. At the time he had no land it was not living a self-sufficient life. I found Holzer's work to be very interesting, not necessarily applicable to my life but I did try the raspberry bed and it worked out quite well.
 

Joel_BC

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No, that's not who I'm talking about. I was referring to the list owner at least at the time.
Yeah, I was clear on that.

It's just that Sepp is who the permaculturists who make up the membership most often praise, even more than the Austrailians who published the early permie books (Mollison, Holmgren & those people).
 

Joel_BC

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I find many of the "permie" ideas regarding gardening and livestock production are impractical, at best, and downright silly, at worst. The chicken house brush pile is an example of incredibly silly thinking and the one perched on hay bales, was needlessly cumbersome and labor intensive for the expected outcome.

Mounding up wood and soil into a mound in order to plant a few shrubs or perennial type food stuff seems, to me, to be a huge amount of work for too little pay off. One could just layer in compost materials over time and get the same sustainability, moisture retention, and good yields, so I'm not a huge fan of the whole hugel type gardening unless one has a problem area in the yard~big hole filled with brush/wood/rocks and has a pile of said materials there and want to use the space anyway, though I am on board for permaculture.
Thinking about the permaculture-homestead approach in general...

The key idea is to reduce the need for off-farm inputs — inputs like amendments for soil fertility and feed for livestock. From what I've seen, it's an approach that requires quite a great deal of investment (time, energy, money for tree & shrub stock) at the start. In the longer run, so long as large land-use design mistakes haven't been made initially, it can provide a lot in the way of food, fiber, shade, etc.

I've seen good energetic people really struggle with that permaculture-homestead start-up phase. But the trees and shrubs that started out teeny get big. So later, another challenge sometimes presents itself in this way: the tree and shrub emphasis results in a great abundance of fruit (and maybe nuts), but possibly too little to financially justify hiring help to harvest it. This can very easily mean edibles go to waste.

I won't knock permaculture overall. But I do think some people are blindly jumping onto (or trying to jump onto) that bandwagon, without knowledge of the sorts of things I've mentioned. Just a few thoughts.
 
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Britesea

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Permaculture is great, but it's not the be-all and end-all of food production; I still want my tomatoes and peppers! My small plot has necessitated being very careful where I place trees and shrubs, lest I lose all sunshine for annuals (plus I NEED at least SOME light coming into the house!) We are surrounded by pine trees on other people's land as well- which makes the available sunlight even more iffy. So far, I have a decent area of sunshine for a garden and greenhouse, with a little more available for future growth. I need to keep any new trees to the north side of the property though, or I will lose it.
 

freemotion

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Thinking about the permaculture-homestead approach in general...

The key idea is to reduce the need for off-farm inputs — inputs like amendments for soil fertility and feed for livestock. From what I've seen, it's an approach that requires quite a great deal of investment (time, energy, money for tree & shrub stock) at the start. In the longer run, so long as large land-use design mistakes haven't been made initially, it can provide a lot in the way of food, fiber, shade, etc.

I've seen good energetic people really struggle with that permaculture-homestead start-up phase. But the trees and shrubs that started out teeny get big. So later, another challenge sometimes presents itself in this way: the tree and shrub emphasis results in a great abundance of fruit (and maybe nuts), but possibly too little to financially justify hiring help to harvest it. This can very easily mean edibles go to waste.

I won't knock permaculture overall. But I do think some people are blindly jumping onto (or trying to jump onto) that bandwagon, without knowledge of the sorts of things I've mentioned. Just a few thoughts.
Don't forget that any abundance of any food can be turned into bacon.
 

Joel_BC

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Don't forget that any abundance of any food can be turned into bacon.
Right you are... it's just that, from what I've noticed, keeping a couple pigs has not always been in the initial plans of the people designing their permaculture place.
 

freemotion

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Oh, right, but I don't really care what other people plan, I just look for ideas! Some of the things I've learned on those sites have inspired me to add different things to my property and some of the methods have increased production quite a bit. Very useful when space is limited.
 

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I think livestock can only enhance that type of food system, be it small stock or larger. They can turn waste into something valuable quicker than a compost pile can do it and you get the added benefit of the protein supply of their byproducts.
 
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