Last year I prepared and planted cucumbers and tomatoes in 3 hugel holes with mediocre results.
Just improved/redid the holes this year using what I learned from last year's experience.
In one hole I had put in horizontally buried branches and also mixed in some leaves. It did poorly. Just adding logs into clay soil isn't enough to make a good growing bed. So I redug this hole out. 2' deep, 2' diameter.
These were the branches I dug out.
Put in vertical stump and branches about 10" to 1' in length. Made sure I left one shovelful depth between the soil surface and the stump. This is so I can easily do a "single dig" in future years, i.e. dig in more organic matter one shovelful deep.
Then I added wood chips and soil to fill in the hole. Alternated 3 shovelfuls of chips, then 3 shovelfuls of dirt. This seems like a lot of wood chips, but after just one summer this clay soil absorbs all but the largest chips.
In this hugel hole last year, I just threw in a stump vertically and mixed in a little bit of leaves. The cucumber plant did very well in this hole. The vertical stump seems to wick away excess moisture will keeping the dirt just the right amount of moistness for the plants. The stump in the ground was from last year.
Added some branches on top of the stump, just enough to keep the wood a shovel depth below the surface.
Then 3 shovelfuls wood chips, 3 shovelfuls dirt, ... After done the pile is 1 foot high. This will be ready to plant in 2 months, mid-April.
I'm really looking forward to seeing what the soil looks like at the end of the summer. This is the first time I've added so many wood chips at once.