As part of the site clearance for the in-fill house I'm building at the rear of the section I have had to remove a 100 year plus old pine ( which the neighbour wanted to remove as he felt it was threatening his house ) as well as a number of self seeded native bush trees. I had them placed into a pile, and then covered with the top soil and other rubbish ( well, I couldn't get the builders to be selective about this ) to form a hugelkultur. This was to prevent the sudden release of all the carbon captured in the wood - that pine tree took a team of three arborists to remove. I turned the pine cones into biochar using that iron bath seen on the right. The height is about 5 foot based on the 8 foot height of the sunchokes on the far left.

I wasn't allowed on site while the builders were working so the whole thing is now covered in black nightshade. And the corn I planted which you can see at the top was eaten by rats.

I've read the general principles of using a hugelkultur, and that one should plant fruit trees at the bases to capture nutrient flows from the top. And various sites talk about not planting some plants in the first years, and one shouldn't use pine due to inhibition of other plants etc.

But the sites don't really discuss how best to plant one this high, and also since I have appear to have a lot of top soil on top of the the wood, I wonder if I really have to follow those principles.

So, does anyone have experience on how to best manage one this size? I'm living in a cool temperate climate.



2 Answers 2


I wonder what this heap looks like now, four years later? The soil will be exquisitely rich. As a long time gardener,I would first clear the weeds, put them in a compost heap of their own. Plant fruit bushes around the edges, berries and such. Get some spawn of Garden King mushrooms and "plant" that between rows of beans, and whatever other vegetables your climate will grow.


Starting a hugelkultur means digging below, so the leaches from watering and rain seep to bottom. Some people have innovated to install electric insulated heating blanket to warm the pile in winter.

Pile that large is too big, hugelkultur uses a mix if twigs, branches and cut up logs....and hardwoods are preferred medium as opposed to conifers.

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