Broad Valley Orchard

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A Week of Indian summer, but More Rain On Way


Well, I can’t gripe – we just had a week of warming and dry weather.   I got the gardens under cover crop, the firewood split and stacked, the root and fruit cellars done (including the harvesting to partly fill the shelves), and the prep work for our next adventure in Hugle Kulture.

A year ago I was dealing with a 10’x16′ damp batch of ground.  I had just heard of Hugeling (mound building), and used the deep/double digging technique to trench, bury a pick-up load of old wood debris, and then mounded the excavated dirt over it.  We grew two crops there this year.  The first was garlic, and it grew bigger bulbs with less rot in this wet spring than did the bulbs planted in our standard raised beds.  The second crop was beans, and again they grew better than beans planted in raised beds, which had water cascading over the beans, which rotted.

Our second adventure in Hugel was in the Spring when run-off was cascading into one of our hoop houses.  I had buried gravel drains, but found they were choked with silt.  So I dug a trench in the upper walkway of the hoop house, and back-filled it with brush and capped with wood chips for easier walking – again no more flooding!

Then came our July drought, which ended in a rainy August and 16″ of rain in September from a series of cut-off lows that flooded much of our lower main garden.  We (and most) local farmers ended up harvesting less potatoes than we planted.  But I located the perched water table spring, and I have devised a plan to excavate a 90 foot long, 3 foot wide, and ‘as deep as we can dig it’ Hugel drain.  I have several tons of long rotting white pine, and misc. smaller woody stuff to fill it with.  Then we will heap the soil spoils pile back over the fill.

I am planning that 1) the with-contour mound will retard down slope sheet wash to protect the garden beds below it, 2) the mass of rotting wood should hold tons of water, and 3) the humus produced should fertilize crops on the mound for several years.

This last point is important, because in this flood year, we have probably lost 1/4 of the top soil we have been building for 28 years.  The most eroded part of the garden up hill from the the mound has been put into long term cover crop = pasture mix.  The garden below the mound has been cover cropped with winter rye and hairy vetch, and should be ready for re-planting in the Spring.

So, I hope this works, but I like digging.  Anyone interested = I’ve got an extra shovel!  Dig we must.


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