Permaculture Berm Basics

Dirtpatch Heaven went to Wheaton Labs and talked with Paul Wheaton about his berms. Berms are kind of like hugelkulture beds in shape and size, but differ in their composition. While hugelkulture beds are largely composted of wood and other organic material with a layer of dirt or soil on the top, a berm is made entirely of dirt/soil. In the words of Paul, a berm is a "dirt pile."

In the video, they notice that there is a large reduction in wind thanks to the berm. They also spot a rhubarb that has been growing happily without any irrigation. Everything (apple trees, beans, mullien, etc) growing on this berm is grown without any irrigation and without any maintenance. The berm also functions as a sound and vision barrier to make the property more private

In this image from the Permaculture Playing Card, you can also see some advantages to berms:

In this video, Essential Mountain Homesteading discusses the berms surrounding the parking area at Wheaton Labs. These berms provide shelter from wind, snow, and also the prying eyes of neighbors. 

Berms-when arranged in a sun  scoop formation can also be used to retain heat in an area. This can be seen in action at the Rocket Mass Heater Tipi at Wheaton Labs. This RMH tipi is surrounded by a sun scoop berm to help retain heat.

Sun scoop berm surrounding the tipi which contains a rocket mass heater for warmth. 

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