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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Blueberry Spruce Bed: Construction

Blueberries are one of the most delicious foods on Earth. 
Thus, I needed to make a special bed just for their soil preferences...

It started out with a pit, just like all the other beds. This time, my friend Lee Johnson had suggested spruce, and it seemed like a good material when aiming for acidic soil. Someone else had reminded me that Sepp Holzer uses mainly spruce, and I was sold. Lee has plenty of spruce on his property and generously offered to bring some over to hugel-land... Thank you, Lee! Above you see the base layer.

After a layer of soil, I started in on the second layer of spruce.

Plenty of water is critical at this stage.

Bob used the backhoe to push more soil onto the second wood layer.

Wow, that saved me some digging! Thanks, Bob.

And now for some fines... grass clippings, leaves, and my favorite: manure!

Smaller diameter wood of mixed species, more grass clippings and lots more water...

Another layer of soil and you'd think it's pretty much done. But it's not!

I decided that the bed wasn't large enough to 
accommodate all six high bush blueberry bushes.

So, Bob dug an extension pit for me...

...and I filled it up with more wood, manure, leaves...

...and lots of pine needles to help make the soil acidic.

I harvested some grass cover crop material and 
watered the extension bed down thoroughly.

More manure and more pine needles... You will notice I didn't add any soil in between the layers of organic matter in this bed. Our soil is alkaline and I didn't think it would help me in achieving the acidic soil pH that blueberries like.

The blueberry bed is almost at surface level, but there is still a ways to go. I laid down three rows of aspen, making two rows to plant the blueberries, in between the wood.

Leaving space for planting, I added a lot of smaller diameter wood.

Lots more pine needles for acidity and organic matter

Soil and water...

The grand finale, spread out as the top layer: 
a special hugelkultur pile I had started the year before, for this very purpose.

Rich, dark, rotting wood with composted manure already mixed in. 
What a top dressing!

A big pile of the hugel-dressing (yum)

Here I am spreading out the good stuff across the surface of the blueberry bed.

Now it is finally close to being finished.

I incorporated some biochar into the top layer, for added minerals.

Wow, it is ready to plant. We must really love blueberries...

My daughter gets ready to help plant the bare root stock. At last!

A side note for blueberry lovers out there who don't want to use peat since it involves tearing up wetlands: If you put grass clippings in a dark plastic bag and let them sit for a year or two or more, the resulting compost looks very much like peat. I suspect it will work very well! I guess I'll find out...

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