~ with Mini Hugelkultur Inside ~
Here's how it started: I couldn't wait for spring to come...
This photo was taken in January, but this has been a very strange winter, and it felt like spring at the time. There is a south facing hill on our property where the snow always melts first, and where the first buttercups of the spring appear each year. It is the "first hope of spring" hill, and one sunny day in January, it struck me as a "first hope of kale" location. (Note the granite outcrop at the right, which functions like a huge heat battery.)
First I found a few pieces of very rotten wood and piled them together at the base of the granite outcrop.
A little more wood, smaller pieces on top... with some ice, so that it would slowly add moisture as it melted.
Next a layer of leaves and then compost, and the mini hugelkultur bed was complete.
Snow on top to add moisture... After this, an old clear plastic office mat happened to be handy, so I curved it over the bed and closed the ends with fabric. A couple of weeks later, I tucked some kale and lettuce seeds into the compost, and hauled some water to moisten the whole thing.
When we finally got a decent snowfall at the end of January, I added snow around all of the edges to seal off the plastic. It was steamy inside when last I checked… the seeds will germinate when the conditions feel right to them. This first week of February it was -25C (-13 F) so I'm sure it's a little early yet…
...But I'm hoping that the dramatic southwest exposure and the granite thermal battery will bring us greens earlier than usual. Time will tell!
(Our daughter's dog, Kwilly, looks out over the Okanogan valley)
Feb 12 Update:
This is how it looks inside the enclosure today... leaves and compost were looking a little dry, so I added a jug of *warm* water, and it got very steamy in there right away!
We had a crazy change in the weather today, with sudden warmth that evaporated most of the snow! What a lovely shock after last week's cold snap. I'm curious to see what will happen inside this enclosure in the next few weeks.
Feb 16 Update:
Inside the enclosure: a very exciting day -- I see green!!!
I planted kale and lettuces in here... any guesses on which this first sprout will be? I'm guessing kale, for its cold-hardiness, but only time will tell. I have been watering the mini-bed with a jug of warm water every few days, but it is so saturated now that I am going to wait longer before watering it again.
For context: This is the south facing hill where the enclosed mini-hugelkultur bed is located. On our north facing slopes, you still need snowshoes to go for a hike. But here, the hillside is mostly bunchgrass!
Feb 25 Update:
It was -14 Celsius or 6 F this morning, and look who sprouted this week in the snow fort!
And yes, it is a snow fort again, thanks to the latest dump of snow that arrived this week. We got 6-8 inches, but it is already melting on this magical warm south-exposed hill...
Where does the snow melt first where you live?