Paul Wheaton and Kelda Miller continue reviewing chapter 1 of Sepp Holzer‘s Permaculture (the book). First, they talk about “humus storage ditches” (what Paul thinks is pretty much a swale). You shouldn’t do this if you are clay heavy as to avoid landslides. Sepp uses a slope bucket, and says there is no need to dig, just to compress the soil down. It is the same technique he uses to build a pond, sealing the soil. Water won’t absorb into the humus storage ditches, but go over. Lots of organic matter will accumulate there, and some puddles.
Paul talks about creating short swales, or scallops, and the importance of Introducing texture and edge. The Romans used to seal their ponds with a gley (also: glie) layer. People often create accidental gley layers when they leave too much nitrogen heavy material together unbroken. Paul talks about avoiding cold air coming down at night and making puddles prone to frost. For this reason, he never plants trees on a dam. Paul likes round and wavy raised beds–the wonkier the better. Sepp’s not a fan of chipped material.
Paul shares that every time you till you lose 30% of your organic matter. You get all the benefits of both till and no-till with hugelkultur. Tree trunks maintain the perfect balance of moisture in the system. Sepp likes hugelkultur beds that are at least 5-10 ft tall, and very steep. Steep beds have more oxygen available, less compacted soil, and you can terrace tall hugelkulturs. Raised beds are excellent visual barriers and keep out noise and pollution. Kelda shares about a huge hugelkultur bed with pipes running through it that are steaming hot in winter.
Paul rants a bit about community. Paul talks about getting what you need to make something from your own land rather than bringing it in. He also shares about his video of Forest Shomer and his tomatoes that had no irrigation or fertilizer. For the last 2 summers, Kelda hasn’t watered her garden. Paul theorizes that with less irrigation you have more flavor. Kelda thinks it’s important to have indentations to catch rainfall in hugelkultur steep slopes.