The amazing thing about the piles of clippings and leaves which have sat waiting to be placed atop the Hugelbeet since May 2012 is that they have already begun to decay in place and become a rich humus layer. As we add this rich topping to the web and mesh of branches and twigs it sinks into the cracks and stabilizes. We are also finding all sorts of plants which have survived being dumped into the sorting pile and are growing… we’ll see how they do now that they are exposed. Found plants include irises, bergenia, convallaria, and sempervivums, so we are experimenting with letting them live, to see how well they can do under the hot conditions of the “beet”.
The pile can be walked on, and the “springiness” which it first had while the branches were pliable is now much more solid- they are breaking down quickly in the summer heat. We have regularly added enough material to make the pile more than 8 feet tall, and yet by the next week’s build we find the pile has sunk at least a foot. This is a good sign that the microbial activity is high and that things are breaking down.
The Hedley Volunteer Fire Department has watered the Hugelbeet two times in the last 10 days, which is great during this dry summer heat. We hugelbuilders are very grateful that the Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department assisted in watering the “beet” on August 14 when they came to do a workshop to teach new members of the Hedley Volunteer Fire Department the technique of using a tanker, a water bladder and “drafting” a firetruck off the water in the bladder. More than 2,500 gallons of water deluged the hugelbeet that night, at the end of a two-hour work session.
We are also excited to be making headway on a rattlesnake talk, hopefully happening soon near the Hugelbeet: the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance is willing to send someone out to talk to adults and children alike on how to be snake smart, and help protect these endangered species… we’ll keep you posted!
– Angelique Wood