LOCAL PHOTOS: Thursday morning, June 9: mushrooms, dead trees, and new hugelkultur beds

This morning after my usual 3-mile walk with puppy Shadow, I watered the beds I’m in charge of, including the great mound out in front of this house, which I have been planting with various flowers. And, lo and behold, I discovered something there that blew me away. Thinking at first it was an animal dig, I looked closer. No! An explosion of mushrooms!

I went back inside, got to work here on this blog. A few minutes later Rebecca walked in, wanted to ask Brie and me to meet with her briefly to watch a 15 minute video, “Something I think we might want to purchase and set up this year.” Hmmm. Intriguing. “Okay. Let’s do it at noon.”

There’s always a  lot of experimentation going on around here, and I’d say maybe 80% of what we “do” actually works, or leads to even more interesting discoveries. Meanwhile . . .

“Hey Rebecca, I want to show you something!” So I took her outside, and showed her the mushroom explosion. “Wow, they love it here!” she exclaimed. I asked her to put her finger right next to a visible mushroom.

mushroom finger

Damn! It’s hard to see, but the explosion is actually about two feet across.

She complimented me on the mound,

better mound

but said I would need more straw to keep unwanted ground ivy from springing up. Okay.

Then I showed her the next front yard project: A hugelkultur bed at the north end, made possible by the fact that the old maple tree is finally starting to die. One of its three main branches no longer sprouts leaves,

dead branch

and one of the other two still-living branches has deep cracks in it.


This is happening all over Green Acres neighborhood, built in the ’50s, and planted with maple trees, which live not much longer than 50 years. The original mound out front is also hugelkultur, with the five-foot stump of the original soft maple tree in the middle of it. I took that one down about ten years ago. This one is a “hard” maple, so it lasted a bit longer.

What we will do is lay two logs from the tree perpendicular between house and road on either side of the stump, which we will cut to about three feet tall. The stump and logs will form the basis of the new hugelkultur bed. Then, add branches, cardboard, leaves, grass clippings, office pack, you name it, and cover the whole thing with soil, plant with nitrogen-fixing clover for the winter, and then with vegetables next year.  Voila!

Here’s where the new bed will go, east to west (doomed tree in the center):

new hugelculture location

This new bed will preserve my tai chi space nicely!

front yard tai chi sanctuary

Rebecca then said, “Have you seen the new beds we made yesterday next door?”

No! Let’s go!

So we walked over to the front yard of the place we are reclaiming for permaculture. Most of it is still wild.

next door wild

But wow! Look what Rebecca, Brie, and new housemate Dan have done! Two beds, one of them on the ground, the other raised.

new bedsRebecca has been thinking about this kind of raised bed for awhile. She saw the idea of it in a Brown County garden nearby.

new bed template

But they didn’t make it also a hugelkultur bed. We did. So underneath the new soil are tree branches. The metal sides use the sun to warm the soil inside. And the rods stick up as supports for plastic covering to create a hoop house for fall/winter months.

new bed template.2

She plans to turn the entire front yard of that house into these kind of metal-sided hugelkultur beds. Voila!

I used to call her the boss. She prefers the title “Queen.” Okay. (This came about during a discussion of the Triple Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Crone. I had said that these days, because we live so long, women want to change Her into a Quadruple Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Queen, Crone. Rebecca jumped at that; she doesn’t want to think of herself (yet?) as a crone.)

Me? At 73, I finally feel like I’m coming into full-fledged cronehood — and loving it.

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