Dual-purpose space for natural temperature control inside the house directly behind the greenhouse. The concept is to use heat absorbing mass (dark jugs with water, heat sinking pots, rocks) for winter and a coco-husk swamp cooler type of system for summer. Below is the space currently, first from behind and then looking at the back wall from inside the greenhouse. Thinking a rock structure (shelf-like) instead of the current planks (white) at the base to support both the winter and summer treatments.
Hugel got more branches and leaves on branches stuffed into holes and layered on top and sides. The open end displayed in the last photo will receive a “backstop” which I’m building now. Once that is installed I can complete the hugel end before adding final layers. Non-productive (no edible fruit) Passion flower vine that was invading the house at the back re-purposed for top and sides. Purpose of the vine – erosion control and to define top layer “understory” – support for top layer – to prevent soil from spilling down the sides due to the multiple tiny to small sized pockets that soil may lodge into as the bed is raised with more additions. I will need to make sure the vine will not propagate – so, this bed will sit for awhile as the vine dies.
Rocks to protect greenhouse posts and secure the hugel base placed, leaving one end open intentionally for potential soil spillage/harvesting. Soil applied/shook down, bed watered. More material needed. Straw-like material in last batch of earth detritus received will be used to cover after compost layer applied.
Hugel got more material added this morning. Stuffed leafy twigs and coco husks in holes on top and sides. In process of bringing soil from the food forest to the hugel. Putting the dark, heavier/silty/compacted soil around base as a barrier to keep the base from spilling out.
A little barter got me a couple truck loads of earth detritus for greenhouse hugel & enough to complete the hugel in the Food Forest!
After the rain two days ago, dug the hugel base more on the end farthest from the house and found a hole amidst concrete, rock and abobe brick chunks below the super crummy soil. Filled that hole with gravilla. Layered the wood (biggest at bottom), stuffed smaller branches with dried leaves crumpled as “scrunched” “packets” into areas under, between, and around the bigger branches and the hugel was still too low (generally at soil level), but sufficient for my purpose (eventual total transformation of this ground) and for higher value, long term, microbial development I put more wood (branches/leaves attached), then some heavy cut logs and a former, partially burned, mushroom host trunk on top, stuffed holes under the mushroom log with end of summer tomatoes, basil and leaves from an unidentified yellow flowering, prolific plant, then put the last of the usable soil on top and watered. Stomped around on layers as layers added. The log sections and the mushroom trunk were originally placed in a Food Forest Hugel. I think the greenhouse heat trap is a higher priority and have immediately re-purposed the wood (photo number 10 here). Here is a slideshow detailing the layering process inside the greenhouse.
13 April: Contemplating a natural heating and cooling system inside and “behind” my greenhouse to regulate the house climate. 10 litre jugs painted dark with water and capped under the plastic bottle “warm wall/heat sink” for winter and a malla wrapped long tube of shredded coco husks in that space for a summer “swamp cooler” effect. I will have to frame and put plastic up for the space behind the greenhouse and in front of the house to trap the heat generated by the jugs and heat sink. Those walls would come down in summer to allow the wind to flow through.
12 April: Tossed the depleted, heavy, compact soil over the fence to a future hugel site (sample clumps in photos below). Dug where rock allowed to create a trench with trenches… photos follow.
This is how I envision the flow of water after more trench work (when it rains or, I’ll just douse it with city water if the drought continues), so I can cut this flow to seriously draft water away from the house foundation:
11 April: Moved fibrous soil (that also has some mycorrhiza in it!) out of the area slated for the hugel and began cutting up the foundation for the logs. The material under the soil is a greasy pale-grey-whitish clay-like substance (matches what is described as Uruguay’s depleted soil I have read about). This material is not conducive to developing healthy soil quickly, so I will put it out front for the next hugel that can take more time to develop. Out back in the future Food Forest is better soil to mix in. Several healthy worms were wriggling around on the ground as I moved earth and so they were relocated to some of the new beds with better, deeper, rich soil. The fibrous soil I removed will go back into and on the mound as I build the hugel. Following is a photo essay.
10 April: This past week’s activities concentrated on re-purposing the area inside the greenhouse (framed only at the moment). Rocks and some plants transplanted to other areas to free up space for the primary hugel mound in the greenhouse. Following is a photo essay to date. The greenhouse with rock moved out and support rock and pavers placed on concrete post bases to provide extra strength at base and prevent soil intrusion into the supports in concrete footing, mostly above ground. And, bam! Chia popped up this morning (10 April) just a few days after planting in the round mini-hugel inside the greenhouse. Click for larger image/slideshow.
For now, the proposed general outline of greenhouse hugel area to cut and lay wood,
leaves, soil, leaves, greens, and soil into.
March/April 2015 Heading into winter: One small mound in process of being built up and one new area identified for another, larger, but still smallish mound inside the primary growing area inside the greenhouse. The greenhouse will serve as a heat sink in winter and shade house in summer. Click for larger view.
When I moved in, this was a blank slate with a slope to foundation that let water flow underneath the house. Photo: October 2014.