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Archive for the ‘Berm’ Category

A berm at Barton Moss

Sunday was a brightish and surprisingly chilly spring day with a frigid southeasterly blowing across Barton Moss and among the conifers of Hollinwood Scout Camp. This was our third visit here – we were given a warm welcome as ever and huddled around the Burco for a brew and biscuits before tackling our work which was a new activity: to create a Hugelkultur Berm(!).

Basically this is a method to create a raised mound for vegetative planting in areas of wet ground. The principle is to improve the drainage of the ground on the berm and to promote healthy plants. The ground of Barton Moss is flat and very wet even in dry weather. The earth is deep, rich and dark but a little too wet for any trees other than alder. So to create this feature you start by digging down (c. 15″) and removing the turf and soil. This is piled up alongside the ditch, with sods kept separate from the soil. Next the ditch is packed with chunky blocks and branches of wood to create a slight mound above the surrounding ground. This is the foundation of the berm. Now the soil is piled on top of the wood creating a long mound. The earth slips into the gaps of the wood and starts to mound up. One the soil is used up the sods are placed upside down on the surface; this helps hold the soil in place and allows the grass to decompose and feed the soil ready for planting later on. The edge of the berm is supported by horizontal logs, pegged in place to help keep the soil on top of the sunken timber.

The resulting feature creates a well drained planting area above a slowly decomposing buried pile of logs. This decomposition creates warmth and enhances release of nutrients into the soil.

This was an unusual but engaging task and on the day we completed it successfully. One volunteer also had time to go and re-tag and check the stakes of the saplings previously planted by the Scouts. We had a great lunch alongside a warming fire. Many thanks to our host at the site and to the volunteers who turned out!

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