An experiment in Hugelkulture in containers


Meadowlark

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I desire to garden and specifically raise vegetables for the duration of my life. I recognize that someday I will not be able to do that in my current large garden. Hence, this experiment to determine the feasibility of Hugelkulture in containers. Two control plants and two hugelkulture plants in the same soil (Celebrity tomato in one container and jalapeno pepper in the other) will be the basis of this experiment. Produce weights and growing cycle will be compared.

If you are interested, I encourage you to follow this thread and comment/question anytime.



And so it begins:

Materials:

1) the containers used are old cattle protein tubs with drainage holes added. Cost: Zero, utilization of existing material

materials 2.JPG


2) one of the beauties of this approach is material is generally free and readily available. Wood debris material for the first layer. Cost zero, making something out of nothing

materials.JPG


3) This material is easily broken up and added to the containers as the first (bottom) layer. Zero cost

layer 1.JPG


4) the second layer is power company provided free tree mulch. Zero cost.

layer 2.JPG


5) the third and final layer will be added just prior to planting using the identical garden soil of the control plants and setting in close proximity. Depending on weather, it could be another couple of weeks before the weather enables. Stay tuned.

Summary: zero cost, less than 45 minutes of my time.
 
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Meadowlark

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Two identical celebrity tomato plants and two identical jalapeno pepper plants were selected for this trail.
hugelkulture pepper 2.JPG

fomato hk.JPG



After adding identical garden soil, all plants were placed in their respective tub/garden.

tomato tub hk.JPG


hugelkulture pepper 1.JPG



The evaluation factors will be 1) total production of each plant by weight and quality and 2) ease of care including any diseases, insects, or other problems experienced through the end which will be next frost probably early Nov.

I'll be very happy with this if the tubs produce at least 50% of what the garden plants do with no drainage or other problems...but we will see.

The ballyhooed prediction of drainage problems has already had a great test with a fierce storm that dropped 5 inches of toad strangling rain and howling winds....no problem at all for the tubs.
 
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Don't care. Won't care.
You've already convinced me from other threads (Sunn hemp, etc.). that you can't or won't perform an unbiased test.
..and speaking of ballyhoo, it sounds like you already are sure what results you are going to get.

Do I think somebody can place twigs and wood in acontainer and still have soil water come out? Sure, but that doesn't mean much.

Also, this isn't even a comparison between two different container plantings. It is a comparison (of very low sample size) between a container planting and an in-ground planting.
You didn't ask anybody about your experiment design, but I'll tell you anyway, right now you're not even testing on the right variable.
 
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In post #1 it shows a fair representation of Hugelkulture and how it is applied on bare ground and in a container. This is NOT just a comparison of container vs inground planting. You said it doesn't matter much if the container drains or doesn't drain. I don't think this is true. I don't believe @Meadowlark is testing in some university controlled setting, he is testing in an actual garden on a side by side basis to see if Hugelkulture in a container is feasible or possible. This is how gardening has progressed for eons, not knowledge gained from books. Just for my curiosity what is the correct variable and also what is the correct way to Hugelkulture.
 
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Meadowlark

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In post #1 it shows a fair representation of Hugelkulture and how it is applied on bare ground and in a container. This is NOT just a comparison of container vs inground planting. You said it doesn't matter much if the container drains or doesn't drain. I don't think this is true. I don't believe @Meadowlark is testing in some university controlled setting, he is testing in an actual garden on a side by side basis to see if Hugelkulture in a container is feasible or possible. This is how gardening has progressed for eons, not knowledge gained from books. Just for my curiosity what is the correct variable and also what is the correct way to Hugelkulture.

Exactly. Chuck...testing to see if Hugelkulture in a container is feasible for me or not and looking to the not so distant future, where container gardening may be my best or only option. Thank you for your comments.
 
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@Marck , what does “ testing on the right variable “ mean in plain language ?
If one wants to test if there is a benefit to putting buried wood in a container, the control should be a container without buried wood, not an in-ground planting.
 
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If one wants to test if there is a benefit to putting buried wood in a container, the control should be a container without buried wood, not an in-ground planting.
This is a test of Hugelkulture, NOT a test of containerized soil. Isn't Hugelkulture basically using rotten wood and a little soil to build a raised bed? This is exactly what @Meadowlark has done. He put 2/3 rotten wood and 1/3 soil into a small raised bed. But, perhaps I am wrong in assuming soil is added on top. Please explain the perfect way to use the Hugelkulture technique.
 
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If one doesn't have a control showing how the plants grew in a container identical in every way except for the presence of the buried wood, how would one identify the effects, if any (beneficial or otherwise), of the buried wood on the plants in the container?
 
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@Meadowlark, would you please plant an identical plant in an identical tub with identical soil with zero wood. Apparently the above poster doesn't really care if your use of the Hugelkulture technique works or not. Isn't the object of this experiment designed to see if the Hugelkulture technique will provide at least 50% production in comparison with inground planting not how a tub full of soil compares to inground planting?
 

Meadowlark

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Herbie,

This all started when a poster asked if he could save soil costs by adding wood to the bottom of his container. One person answered that it wouldn't work because of drainage problems. I disagreed being familiar with the centuries old technique of Hugelkulture.

This is a test for me to determine the feasibility of using Hugelkulture in a container. The Hugelkulture technique saves a considerable amount of garden soil...as Chuck said about 66% less soil...while repurposing readily available materials.

I chose the control deliberately. I wanted to see first that it was or was not feasible and second compare it to a known entity...my garden soil. I have no interest at this time in other container methods, but you or anyone else is free to pursue those evaluations.

My criterion for success is at least 50% of the production in my garden and manageable other problems including drainage which I have already seen is a non problem.
 
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Meadowlark

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@Meadowlark, would you please plant an identical plant in an identical tub with identical soil with zero wood. Apparently the above poster doesn't really care if your use of the Hugelkulture technique works or not. Isn't the object of this experiment designed to see if the Hugelkulture technique will provide at least 50% production in comparison with inground planting not how a tub full of soil compares to inground planting?
I'm not inclined to do that, Chuck, because as you say I'm evaluating the Hugelkuture technique in a container in comparison to my garden soil. Others are free to do what ever they wish. If I see a need later, I can always compare to a "no wood" case but I'm just not interested in that currently.

I do appreciate your knowledgeable comments and hope you will continue to offer them.
 
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I'm not inclined to do that, Chuck, because as you say I'm evaluating the Hugelkuture technique in a container in comparison to my garden soil. Others are free to do what ever they wish. If I see a need later, I can always compare to a "no wood" case but I'm just not interested in that currently.

I do appreciate your knowledgeable comments and hope you will continue to offer them.
Good. It would be a waste of a good tub. I believe most of us knows how to plant in soil and what to expect.
 
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The attitude expressed above is exactly why I will disregard it. I can fully appreciate a light-hearted, informal comparison that is not done to the standards of published science, but this is not even that.

At the end of the season, you will have a certain yield of tomatoes and peppers grown in two containers that happened to have some chunks of wood in them. You will also have a certain yield of tomatoes and peppers grown in the soil. These results won't inform anything to anybody, including yourselves. That's fine, you don't seem to need any evidence to jump to your own conclusions, however predetermined and egregious they may be.

If the rest of the thread is just going to be patting each other on the back, and attributing great meaning to every pepper you pick or don't pick, I won't even bother...
If something written does seem important enough to comment on, or correct. I may do so, but only for the benefit of third-party readers.

Have fun...

By the way, Another useful control would be to plant a container that includes inert, solid material to the same volume as the wood. This would serve to separate the effects of occupying part of the soil volume with solid matter as opposed to having solid material that may partly biodegrade (a la Hugelkultur) during the time-frame of the experiment. I know this has no bearing on the "experiment" that is actually being done, but it's still an interesting idea.
 
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Herbie,

This all started when a poster asked if he could save soil costs by adding wood to the bottom of his container. One person answered that it wouldn't work because of drainage problems. I disagreed being familiar with the centuries old technique of Hugelkulture.

This is a test for me to determine the feasibility of using Hugelkulture in a container. The Hugelkulture technique saves a considerable amount of garden soil...as Chuck said about 66% less soil...while repurposing readily available materials.

I chose the control deliberately. I wanted to see first that it was or was not feasible and second compare it to a known entity...my garden soil. I have no interest at this time in other container methods, but you or anyone else is free to pursue those evaluations.

My criterion for success is at least 50% of the production in my garden and manageable other problems including drainage which I have already seen is a non problem.
It sounds like at the end of the day, when you strip away all the jargon and scientific methods, this is the primary purpose of your experiment, in which i am interested in.

I started my gardening journey through container gardening, and the biggest expense starting from scratch was potting mix and store bought compost. Sure, I have learnt how to make my own compost, but that is not readily and immediately available. Whereas access to large wooden branches are always available in my area. So I would definitely like see if i can save costs by putting branches in the bottom of containers.

To simplify things, if you yielded what you consider a good crop for your own personal standards, I would consider your experiment a success. At the end of the day, gardening is very personal journey, i’m sure the majority of us aren’t striving to have journal articles published!

Best of luck!
 
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Meadowlark

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It sounds like at the end of the day, when you strip away all the jargon and scientific methods, this is the primary purpose of your experiment, in which i am interested in.

I started my gardening journey through container gardening, and the biggest expense starting from scratch was potting mix and store bought compost. Sure, I have learnt how to make my own compost, but that is not readily and immediately available. Whereas access to large wooden branches are always available in my area. So I would definitely like see if i can save costs by putting branches in the bottom of containers.

To simplify things, if you yielded what you consider a good crop for your own personal standards, I would consider your experiment a success. At the end of the day, gardening is very personal journey, i’m sure the majority of us aren’t striving to have journal articles published!

Best of luck!
Well said, well said indeed. Thank you for your comments.
 
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I am interested in this experiment because I am getting old (74+). I had to give up my big garden so I appropriated my wife's flower garden which is much smaller. Now I am finding even this small garden is beginning to be difficult so I have started to garden in large containers. As anyone knows who actually gardens, a 10 gallon container of soil is heavy so I would like to find out about something not quite so strenuous and using 2/3 less of heavy soil might be the answer, especially when I have to move these containers around. I have zero, zip, nada interest in finding out about the growth of plants in a container full of heavy soil nor how much they would or would not produce. If I did I would just keep gardening as long as I could in the ground and then either fall over dead or just quit gardening. All I or @Meadowlark want to find out is if it is possible or feasible to use a technique that uses less heavy soil and still maintain a modicum of production that our inground plants produced. This Hugelkulture technique is interesting because of the slight weight of rotten wood. This rotten wood will soon turn into compost. So, in effect, this will in time lead to planting in just about pure compost mixed with a little soil. And this is all good for an old man with bad knees and back. Perhaps it is not so good for academics who seem to require documentation and reams of data to know if something works or not.
 

Meadowlark

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The containers I'm using are old, discarded cattle protein tubs (I have 30 to 40 of them).

When filled with dirt or cattle protein, they weigh well in excess of 200 hundred pounds.... young or old not something you want to pick up and carry.

Note in the pictures, my tubs were moved fully configured into the garden by me carrying them without assistance when configured per Hugelkulture.
 
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