SQWIBS Urban Garden Adventure 2017

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Smoking Guru
Original poster
OTBS Member
Sep 25, 2007
SQWIBS Urban Garden Adventure 2017

Hey, I'm back. I decided to make another thread as the other was getting a tad long.

Here is what I have been up to,

After the basement was finished I done a little remodel to the bar, the bar is far from done.

I refinished the work benches then I cleaned up the workshop and got the grow light area cleaned and setup

I have been gathering supplies and seeds to get ready. A lot of my seeds were harvested from 2016's harvest.

We hooked Mom and Dad up with their own hugelkulture raised bed, I still have to cap the top and run some irrigation that will be on a timer. It will be stained in the fall.

Mom and Dads Hugelkulture Raised Bed
I've been spreading the word on Hugelkulture Raised Beds. My brother had seen mine and I was telling him about Hugelkulture, he was hooked immediately. He then built a few in place of his removed fence and will be building a few more.

We got to talking and I said we should do one for Mom and Dad in an effort to make their gardening a bit easier on them.

So I told Mom, "Mom were gonna build you a Hugelkulture bed", She said, "what" and I said, "Hugelkulture", she then said, "gesundheight"...I said, "no Hugelkulture, its a method of gardening". So I explained the entire process and she seemed to get it.
Over at Moms for Christmas dinner I checked out her little veggie garden. I said, "what the hell is that", she said, "thats my garden".
I said, "NO, this just wont do"!


After a few measurements I had a game plan, I talked with my brother and we decided on a build.


Later that week I was driving around and came across some wood perfect for the bed. I drove around with this wood in the back of the truck for several weeks.

Then last week my brother calls and tells me he picked up and dropped the wood off at moms with some Hugel Wood.
I thought, "oh boy, were committed now", so we decided on knocking it out this weekend. Friday night I tossed some wood, tools and  some other Hugel Bits in the back of the truck and proceeded to smash an 80 pound soaking wet hay bale in there also.



December 31st, the build.


Dad tearing apart the old bed.

Here's what dad looked like a few months ago.

Built the first row and leveled the bed.


We dug down about 12" or so to start adding the wood, the goal was to have at least 6" of loose soil on top.

We crammed as much wood in as we could, then poured a few cups of 10-10-10 on top of the logs. I'm not sure if the 10-10-10 will even help, but I guess it can't hurt.


We decided to build the rest of the bed before digging out, that was my call, Jim wanted to dig out first but we had no where to put the dirt.

We added a center support and outside supports, we were concerned with the sides bowing during freezes. We then topped off the logs with hay.



Then we topped the hay with soil and continued.





See Jim! I told you there was no place for the dirt.


When we were discussing this build, we were under the impression we would need a lot more soil, since my original plan was to make my raised beds on the hill into Hugelkulture Beds, I figured I would dig out one of my raised beds and use the soil from that. Apparently we didn't need any additional soil.


After all the soil was added back, I soaked the bed for almost an hour. I'm banking on the level dropping at least 4" by planting time and I can top dress with some composted manure.

Now all that is left, is to cap the top and possibly run irrigation oh and of course it will need to be stained but that will be in the fall of 2017.

Here's last weekends project.

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Raised Bed #6
Hugelkultur bed
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A few weeks ago I was eyeing up the yard and admiring the Hugelkultur beds. I thought about last seasons crops that were in the “Air Pruning Pots” that were along the side of the fence and was figuring out how to set it up for next season.

After much thought weighing the "pros" and "cons", I decided to build another Hugelkultur bed along the side of the fence. This will be my 6th bed but 8th box, 9 if you count Moms Hugel Bed.

The plants did good in the Air Pruning Pots, but not as good as the raised bed plants. One of the "pros" to the “Air Pots” was they were mobile and at the end of the season I could move them up onto the hill and open the yard up a bit. But this was also a "Con", because the bags could be pretty heavy when wet and storing on the hill looks a little unsightly. So after one year of the Air Pruning Pots, I decided that I didn't want to be bothered putting the “Air Pots” away each season and wanted something more permanent. I will continue to use a few on the side patio.

This bed will be 24” deep by 20' long, I will loose some of the yard, but another "pro" is that I can use the beds to straighten and support the fence, however, the cost of building the bed is another "con".

My biggest "con" is that the box turtles hibernate in this corner, so I will have to dig out the corner in front of the corner of the bed and add leaf mulch and wood mulch so they can still hibernate there.

Here is what I did to straighten out the one end of the fence using the Hugel Bed.

Here is my Supply List, just in case someone is interested.
 6-8 bags manure

January 18, 2017

Earlier this week I checked the weather forecast and Saturday calls for sunny and 58°, after seeing the forecast I decided to knock out the bed this weekend. The day after I purchased the wood, I checked the weather again and the forecast is still 58° but cloudy, no matter, it will be dry, It's been wet the last few weeks and looks like more rain the beginning of next week.
  • I Picked up most of the wood at Home depot, still need to pick up the cap and side pieces.


  • These are freaking heavy when wet. I stacked them in the back yard and picked out the cleanest 4 pieces that will be for the front of the bed.

January 20, 2017

  • I dropped my son off at school and stopped in my usual spot to pick up some Hugel Wood.

January 21, 2017
  • The weather was mild but very wet so I figured on getting muddy today. After I double checked the best pieces for the facade I carefully dug out the one corner checking for turtles, yep found one. I dug a new hole a few feet away, filled with loose soil and mulch then dug out a slot and placed the turtle back in and covered with some light dirt and mulch. I dug out the raspberry bush and will put that in the Hugelkultur bed. I had to move the underground hoses so they wouldn't get pinched.

  • This spot is 20' wide exactly so I will be fitting this as tight as possible. The irrigation line will need to be reworked. The hoses to the left of the picture were adjusted also to avoid pinching off.

  • I had Air Pruning Pots here for 2016.



  • This is the hardware I will be using. It may seem like overkill but it makes building the beds so much easier especially considering I can't get on the back side to drive the screws.


  • Build.





  • Tight Fit.

  • After the bottom half is done I try leveling and straightening the beds the best I can.



  • After all the boxes were completed I readjusted the beds one more time then called it a day, I was muddy, sore and tired. I slipped into some sweat pants popped four Advil, made a cup of coffee and watched an episode of Dexter and I was feeling much better. Now for some venting, what really pisses me off is that I am busting my stones trying to get every piece cut and to fit almost perfectly but when I start putting the boxes together, the width varies 1/4" from one end to the next on the 2x10's, 9-1/4" on one side and 9" on the other side, this should be illegal. Whats next, a nominal 2"x 10" actual will be a 1"x 8"?

January 22, 2017
  • The next day the weather was poor, it was misting all day and the yard was mostly mud but I wanted to get this done so I could get the wood, leaves, compost and other materials in the bed, we are supposed to be getting a lot of rain and figured it would benefit the bed. I stopped at Home depot to get some more wood. I decided on a permanent support system for the plants so I will be adding two 4"x4"x10' supports, they will be dug in and the finished height from the top of the bed to the top of the posts will be 7'.


  • Three 5" lags are installed and the corners of the box are beefed up.


  • Tops of the bed are capped.

  • Filling with wood.


  • Had the kids rake the leaves from the front yard and toss in the beds.

I still have to replant the Raspberry bush, add the upright supports and tweak the watering system. I will be removing the end top piece on the finished bed and install a wider piece for a neater transition between the new bed and the finished bed, also I need to remove the 6" upright in the front of the finished bed and move over the seam of the new bed and finished bed. 
I still need to dig out a little of the soil in the front of the bed, this soil will be tossed on top of the leaves.

Over the next several months I will be adding compost from my compost pile and 6 - 8 bags of manure, some potting soil, perlite and 10-10-10.

I also need to dig out to the far left of the finished bed and install another 4"x4"x10' upright for the permanent support system. This is gonna be a chore because of the wood in the bed, my only other option is to put the upright on the outside which I do not want to do unless I have no other choice.
Am I correct in assuming that the lumber being used to make the bed is treated? Is there a certain width that should be considered a minimum? How long before you can start planting in the beds, or can you start planting in the first season?
I am interested in this, as my yard is mostly clay, once you get a couple inches down. So a raised bed would be alot more beneficial.
Please keep updating. I've read a good bit on using rotting wood in your beds, and would like to see how it works out. I love a good raised bed.
Am I correct in assuming that the lumber being used to make the bed is treated? Is there a certain width that should be considered a minimum? How long before you can start planting in the beds, or can you start planting in the first season?
Yes it is pressure treated. (research PT for raised beds)

The width is up to you depending on how you will use it. If you will have access to both sides, the recommended width is no greater than 48", Mine is narrow as I can access only one side. Height also depends on whatever you want. I choose 20" because I can sit on the edge when tending the garden or use as a bench, that is why the front piece is a 2" x 6" , a 2" x4 " would hurt my delicate @ss.

Hugelkultur beds take a few years to become established, from my research (www), what is happening is the wood will pull much needed nitrogen from the soil that the plants need to grow. The first year can be disheartening, the second OK and from what I have read, the Magic starts happening at three years when the wood starts releasing the nitrogen. The claims are that once established, if built correctly, this is a Self Watering, Self Fertilizing way of gardening, however I have an irrigation system setup and will always water.

My first two Hugelkultur beds done great but what I did was layer this way, logs in bottom, branches, twigs sticks, leaves, clay soil from yard, shredded wood mulch, topsoil, manure. The wood mulch will also pull nitrogen from the soil.

A few months before my planting date, I will toss in a bit of 10-10-10

The mulch, top soil and manure provide a good planting layer for the plants right away (first year). I also tossed in some 10-10-10, then at the end of the season  top dressed with another layer of wood mulch and come spring will top that with more manure.

If you are more patient than me you can plant cover crops and nitrogen fixers the first season.
I am interested in this, as my yard is mostly clay, once you get a couple inches down. So a raised bed would be alot more beneficial.
I have clay and my plants always do well in it, what I have found out is that it's the compactness of the clay that is the problem. Clay can be good if amended with organics, some clay soils are loaded with minerals, I would dig out some clay, set it aside, start a hugel bed and add some clay and amend with compost, leaves, hay, manure, grass clippings in layers. Add a few inches of your clay then a few inches of an organic material and keep layering, then top off the bed with some compost, topsoil and manure.
Please keep updating. I've read a good bit on using rotting wood in your beds, and would like to see how it works out. I love a good raised bed.
Yes I will update

For my area, Zone 7A, the best time to start a Hugel bed is in the fall, this way it has a 6-8 month start before planting, my first two were done in April but still were  good.

Wet the bed down real good when layering, you want that wood to suck up as much water as possible.

I also have been slowly adding perennial cover crops to the beds that will be permanent residents, Oregano and Thyme, along with weed suppression and helping build the soil, they are incredible for bringing in pollinators.  I also plant sunflowers for similar reasons but some feel that sunflowers can have an adverse affect in the garden. Sunflowers can be used to clean up soils of nasty stuff but then need to be discarded not composted, my soil is not toxic so I recycle my Sunflower plants.

The sunflowers do bring in birds but that is beneficial as the birds will keep unwanted critters off of the plants, some folks cover plants with netting then have problems with caterpillars and other destructive pests, the birds clean this up. I have had less problems with squirrels and birds destroying my tomatoes this year with the sunflower plants, Yeah it's a balancing act.

The only critter I let feast on my garden is the Black Swallow tail, these guys always end up on my parsley and feast upon it, I leave them be until they are gone and the parsley comes back, I will be planting a ton of parsley this year hoping to see more.

The beds last year were like jungles, I tossed everything in there and didn't expect much growth the first season, many plants choked each other out for fruit production,  but the fact that everything was healthy made me a happy gardener, so this year I will be planting these beds normally.

July 13th, 2016

By August my Matts Wild Cherry Tomato plant took over the neighbors side of the yard after it engulfed the raised bed.

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Looks Great Sqwib, A very good idea for beds, and also decorative. I may have to show the wife..... After I build my smoker....
Dang Buddy, Your'e running out of room, Glad to hear your Dad's better.

I did enlarge mine this year  It was 10' x 32'   Now its 16' x 34'

Need to get my Onions planted today, or maybe tomorrow


PS .......     Your's always look fantastic, nice job
Dang Buddy, Your'e running out of room, Glad to hear your Dad's better.

I did enlarge mine this year  It was 10' x 32'   Now its 16' x 34'

Need to get my Onions planted today, or maybe tomorrow


PS .......     Your's always look fantastic, nice job
Yes, dad is doing good.

Gary, I am out of room, no where to go now unless I plant on the roof... hmmm!

I was over your thread checking your progress, looking good

Thanks for the compliment
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January 28th, 2016
  • It was a sad day today, I cut down my Red Maple, I planted this 25 years ago and it just died all of a sudden. I hadn't the heart to burn up the wood so I figured it would make me feel better if it sustained new life over the next 10 years or so. Some will be split and used in the pit and some will be chunked for the smoker.


  • I removed all the leaves from the bed and placed the red maple in the beds. (Sad little coffin)


  • Topped with some clay soil from the yard, followed by the leaves then I emptied my air pruning pots into the beds, the Air Pots had , peat, manure, topsoil and perlite in them.


  • I'll probably toss a few bags of mulch in front of the beds for a path, my yard can get pretty swampy. I'm all ready to plant, just need to tweak the irrigation line, add the top cap pieces, vertical pieces and finish the vertical support. I will stain the bed and may add lights in the fall.


  • Ran out of money but not Mojo so I dug out the other end of the bed, had some wood I cut with a sawzall and one piece I had to split with a splitting wedge, then I hit a piece of granite and got out the hammer drill...forget that... I gave up after 30 minutes and just decided the extra 10" wasn't worth it!


  • Well the whole day didn't go as planned, we blew a brake-line on the suburban and I had to drive home with no brakes, wife was having a conniption the whole way home, I used the brakes one time on a twenty minute drive...IN THE CITY, wasn't fun.
February 5th, 2017.

I finished installing the vertical support line.

  • Notched the side top plate


  • I had to cut 9" off of this upright because I hit a hunk of granite that I couldn't get through. Installed the Carriage Bolts.



  • Back filled with stone, wood , ash and soil.




  • Next up was the cable, this will be 36' long.


  • There were only about 3" of threading on these eye bolts but I wanted as much adjustment as possible so I had to thread these further. What disappointed me was that the shaft diameter is slightly a smaller diameter of the threaded end so I don't have a full thread (Threads are flat)


  • Thread comparison.

  • Holes are drilled in the uprights, slightly larger than the eye bolts so they can move freely. Cable is looped and secured at one end around the eyebolt using the cable connectors. The cable is run to the other end and adjusted to the proper length and looped and secured with the cable connectors. Yes, Home Depot screwed up and gave me two different size cable connectors, but it was 25°F outside and I just wanted to get this done. I may change out the 3/16" with the 3/32" some day if I'm bored.


  • I'm happy with the support for the upcoming year, but more importantly, my wife is very happy with the streamlined support system, when she's happy I'm Happy!

This is quite the project. As I said before, please keep posting. Can't wait to see this in the the prime of growing system. Awesome job!
Looking Good   You will have to go Vertical before long

February 6th, 2017
  • Since my brain is in garden mode the last few weeks, and that is all I can think about. I have been thinking about the support system, I was looking for a way to tighten the cable without tools, at first I was going to use a winch type adjustment but decided it was overkill and I do have a tendency to over engineer stuff. I want it simple enough where I can say to one of the kids, "Hey go outside and tighten the cable a bit", yes I do have a kid named "Hey". Here is what I came up with.

  • If you look closely you can see the needle bearing sandwiched between the washer.

  • The locking nut isn't really needed but I figured I would just toss it on.
A few weeks ago I was playing with my seed starting stuff and was going to try this out but not sure if I will now.

I like the K-Cup idea because it's a two-for-one recycling, you get to reuse the K-cup and compost the grounds.

  • Mini Solo Cups arrived. Hacked up my Rockwool tray for the Mini Solo cups.

  • Drain holes for Solo Cups.

  • Perfect fit.

February 12th, 2017.

The grow area is setup and reorganized as well as my seed starting tool box. I noticed that my one year old 1020 trays were split at the bottom, I decided to order sturdier ones for this season.

Rosemary seeds are started, I started another 10 seeds a few days later after reading up on the Rosemary Germination percentages..

February 16th, 2017.

These are Permanest Tray and domes that just came in from Indoor Garden Supplies.

Tray# GS2211 and the dome is a V2211.


So far I am very impressed with these trays and domes, extremely durable.

February 17th, 2017


Finished Mom & Dads Hugelkultur bed, topped with some compost, potting soil, peat moss and manure, planted some Radishes, beets, Romaine, Spinach and Black Seeded Simpson. In the very back they have a small bed they use for Cucumbers, I tossed in some Sugar Snap peas. Falls project will be to make that corner a raised bed.

February 18th, 2017

Figured I would get some of my gardening done this weekend, it's gonna be near 60°F today and even higher tomorrow.

  • The back pond is looking a little dirty, fired up the pumps and filters.

  • Finished the uprights on the new Hugelkultur bed, Cleaned out the fire pit and spread the ashes and bits of wood on the beds.

  • Stained the Asparagus bed and added some composted manure. I spent a lot of the day working on the stump out front.

February 19th, 2017
I had the family help out today, It got near 70°F today and was just a beautiful day to spend outside with the family, all my plants are coming up already.

In the hugelkultur beds I planted two types of spinach, Kale, Romaine Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson, Broccoli, Bush Beans and Mammoth Melting Snow Peas.

  • Mammoth Melting Snow Peas by the trellis.

  • We trimmed the tree and pulled up all of the Tiger Lilies from around the butterfly house to make room for the Milkweed Plants Coming.


  • The Red Maple trimmings will all be cut up, some will go in a wood pile for the chiminea on the side patio, smaller pieces will be composted and some will be chopped up for the smoker.

  • Playing around with the herb garden to see how invasive my chocolate mint plant was, I stumbled across this little guy.

  • We dug out quite a bit of soil and transplanted the Tiger Lilies. It will look a lot nicer when it grows in, I swear!

  • I will be irrigating the stump all week because I will try pulling it out this weekend, I told my neighbor to come over and record the event as it may be "youtube" worthy lol. The front of the house is such a mess right now, so I'm amped up to get this stump out and get everything cleaned up.
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