There are so many different opinions on what works and what doesn’t, so we’ve decided to do some systematic comparisons side by side. For example, one of our first experiments will be with hugelkultur beds. What are the best methods of constructing the beds? What kind of wood is best? Are conifers acceptable?
We have several acres of 20-year old Douglas fir trees that need thinning, and are going to try using some of them to build a bed, even though many say to avoid conifers. If they work, we’ll have plenty of material for future beds, and a place to put some of those logs. We also enough volunteer deciduous trees where we are planning our orchards that we can use in a second bed right next to the first and compare the results over the next few years.
Then there is the question of height. We started with a 3-foot deep trench with the intent to make the beds 5-6 feet tall overall. After digging half the first trench, it became clear we should verify whether all that crazy digging is necessary. So, half of each bed will be three feet deep and the other half 1.5 feet deep. The height above ground will be the same, 2-3 feet. We’ll plant the same combination of plants in each trial area to compare how they perform. Hopefully the short fir tree bed comes out ahead!