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Under the Arbor, Issue 15
April 14, 2021

April 2021 Issue 15

In this issue:

~ Hugelkulture (it's not fermented food...) ~
~ Fruit Trees? Mason Bees! ~
~ A GREAT Movie Recommendation ~


Hugelkulture is trending heavily these days in permaculture circles and you see it all over YouTube and Pinterest.

A hugelkulture bed, it is claimed, will retain water and thus reduce external water requirements, as well as reduce fertilizer inputs. It will sequester carbon, and increase the levels of helpful mycorrhizal fungi in the soil. Some claim it "lengthens the growing season" because the decay process produces heat from below.

I believe it can do all these things, but… with a few caveats that are not so well publicized.

A hugelkulture bed is made of the following layers:

1) A trench, usually about 3 feet wide by 6 feet long, dug out about 12-18" deep.

2) A bunch of bucked logs/firewood chunks laid out in the trench, either sideways or lengthwise

3) A bunch of smaller branches set in and around the larger logs

4) A bunch of twigs set in the spaces still left

5) A whole lotta compost/green grass clippings/fresh or old manure/veggie scraps/other compostables

6) All the topsoil you dug out put back on the top

7) Water

8) Straw for a top mulch

9) Whatever veggies you want to plant on the top

If you'd like to read about the upsides as well as the downsides of a hugelkulture bed, check out the full article: Hugelkulture

Fruit Trees? Mason Bees!

I don't talk that much about fruit trees, because I can't seem to stop talking about vegetables and soil, which is a shame because my garden does include both a mature Yellow Delicious apple tree and the most delicious unspecified Peach tree variety I've ever eaten.

Over the last few years the yield on both trees has significantly increased (though the peach naturally doesn't bear every year), and the reason is that I have been attracting and providing habitat for mason bees, and the pollination has been much better.

What's so special about mason bees?

Because they are so fuzzy, and because they don't pack pollen into tidy little enclosed baskets like honey bees do, mason bees are 100 times more efficient pollinators than honey bees! And because they stay close to home, traveling only a few hundred yards from their nests, they stay safe from pesticides on our organic mini-farm.

(And also, they don't sting!)

Honey bees have about a three-mile range, and so they are much more likely to encounter poison and bring it back to their babies. This is one reason honey bees are in so much trouble.

So if you too, have fruit trees, consider providing habitat for your own mason bees. It's way fun and will increase your fruit yield.

Stay tuned for a comprehensive article on how to attract, raise, feed and care for these fascinating creatures, which will be posted in the next issue.

If you'd like to learn more right now about mason bees, their houses, habits, benefits and more you can visit the Crown Bees website.

And I will leave you with...

An Excellent Movie Recommendation!

Kiss the Ground, available on Netflix, is an extremely engaging look at how regenerative agriculture has the potential to repair the problems caused by industrial chemical agriculture.

Narrated by Woody Harrelson, it "sheds light on a 'new, old approach' to farming called 'regenerative agriculture' that has the potential to balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world."

I HIGHLY recommended it - it's very hopeful and positive. And we can all use a dose of that these days, eh?

Thanks for visiting, and I'll see you next month. I'm changing the mailout date slightly from here on out, from the second Wednesday of the month to the 21st of every month. I think it will be fun to have it line up four times a year with the equinoxes and the solstices.

You can email your questions to me at, and I'll do my best to answer them, and maybe use the question in the next issue. That's all for now… happy gardening!

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