An experiment in Hugelkulture in containers


Meadowlark

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Good questions.

1) Weight originally just over 200 pounds when filled with cattle protein.

2) Estimated weight configured Hugelkulture style app 55 pounds. I left the top 7 inches or so of the tub unfilled to provide some wind protection for my very young plants.

3) Estimated volume app 20 gallons.

Yes, this has been done successfully for centuries in the ground largely in Europe, I'm told. Some historians speculated that early people recognized plants growing faster and larger on decaying wood that had soil on it... but I make no claims about being a historian...just a very curious engineer :) .

The way I was first exposed to the technique was on one of those TV reality shows about homesteading. It was incredibly successful or so they claimed and demonstrated...but reality shows can be very misleading, LOL.

Again, good questions.
 
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Good questions.

1) Weight originally just over 200 pounds when filled with cattle protein.

2) Estimated weight configured Hugelkulture style app 55 pounds. I left the top 7 inches or so of the tub unfilled to provide some wind protection for my very young plants.

3) Estimated volume app 20 gallons.

Yes, this has been done successfully for centuries in the ground largely in Europe, I'm told. Some historians speculated that early people recognized plants growing faster and larger on decaying wood that had soil on it... but I make no claims about being a historian...just a very curious engineer :) .

The way I was first exposed to the technique was on one of those TV reality shows about homesteading. It was incredibly successful or so they claimed and demonstrated...but reality shows can be very misleading, LOL.

Again, good questions.
my neighbor who is from Scotland did this in containers and in 3 raised beds. he is older than me (77) and swears by it. his containers are for Tomato, Peppers and Okra. is garden is sweet corn, potato's and tomato.

he did say beets, carrots and parsnips dont do as well with this method. but potatoes do? kinda strange

he basically said stack the wood and woodchips like you would a basic camp fire, throw soil down and then cheap top soil.

he has had his raised beds for over 20 years and has added soil 3 times.

I will try this in 3 of my raised beds.

thank you for sharing this
 

Meadowlark

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Your neighbor is my age, and it sounds like he is an excellent gardener. I found that information about what plants work well and what doesn't very useful...in fact I have been wondering about that very thing and thinking about what plants to try next.

Thanks for that much appreciated info and I'm more encouraged now than when I started this experiment.
 
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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!
I have to be careful I don't hurt myself face-palming when I read this thread.

This is not about publishing a scientific paper, but it is about exercising rational thought.

At the end of this, nobody will not know whether the treatment had any effect and whether the effect was beneficial or not.

Comparing an in-ground planting to a container planting is already apples and oranges. There is a large number of variables there involving aspects of soil chemistry, drainage, water retention, root volume, etc. How will know what caused any potential difference in yield? You won't but you can magically say that you do.

Even if we just look at the the containers with pieces of wood in it... Lets say 30 tomatoes are harvested. How many tomatoes would have been harvested without those much-hyped pieces of wood 20?, 30?, 40? Don't know. Won't know.
...but will the posters on this thread be satisfied saying that they don't have any data about the effects of 'hugelkultur pieces of wood in containers' ...one can only hope.

...and that is totally separate about how one feels about getting 30 tomatoes or whether you "consider (it) a good crop for your own personal standards".

I'm not even talking about factors like randomization and sample size because I do know this a small, informal 'experiment', but in truth, those things are important if one want to have any confidence in results.

Never mind publishing, just focus on reading about scientific claims in the popular press (or these Forums).
To od so with comprehension, it is still invaluable to understand something about experimental design and statistics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_of_experiments
 
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Your neighbor is my age, and it sounds like he is an excellent gardener. I found that information about what plants work well and what doesn't very useful...in fact I have been wondering about that very thing and thinking about what plants to try next.

Thanks for that much appreciated info and I'm more encouraged now than when I started this experiment.
actually thank you. you have taught me more about growing veggies than anyone else.

Because of your knowledge and Chucks, I have been able to basically not buy veggies from a store in 4 years. (other than onions)
 
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I have to be careful I don't hurt myself face-palming when I read this thread.

This is not about publishing a scientific paper, but it is about exercising rational thought.

At the end of this, nobody will not know whether the treatment had any effect and whether the effect wegarding growing.as beneficial or not.

Comparing an in-ground planting to a container planting is already apples and oranges. There is a large number of variables there involving aspects of soil chemistry, drainage, water retention, root volume, etc. How will know what caused any potential difference in yield? You won't but you can magically say that you do.

Even if we just look at the the containers with pieces of wood in it... Lets say 30 tomatoes are harvested. How many tomatoes would have been harvested without those much-hyped pieces of wood 20?, 30?, 40? Don't know. Won't know.
...but will the posters on this thread be satisfied saying that they don't have any data about the effects of 'hugelkultur pieces of wood in containers' ...one can only hope.

...and that is totally separate about how one feels about getting 30 tomatoes or whether you "consider (it) a good crop for your own personal standards".

I'm not even talking about factors like randomization and sample size because I do know this a small, informal 'experiment', but in truth, those things are important if one want to have any confidence in results.

Never mind publishing, just focus on reading about scientific claims in the popular press (or these Forums).
To od so with comprehension, it is still invaluable to understand something about experimental design and statistics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_of_experiments
you seem extremely knowledgeable regarding growing.

what do you say regarding people that have done this for 20-30 years that are successful at it?
 
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Whatever successes or failures occur with gardening, or anything else, try to understand for yourself why they occurred.
Don't just take somebody's word for it.
 
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Whatever successes or failures occur with gardening, or anything else, try to understand for yourself why they occurred.
Don't just take somebody's word for it.
agree 100%. what do you say for people that have been successful at this for decades?
 
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Success is relative. By any measurable criterion one can be considered more or less successful than someone else.
...but there is always rom for improvement.

Learning from failures can lead to success, but conditions can change and former successes can lead to failure.

Even more fundamentally, Success is subjective. Success is an opinion, not a fact.
...and regardless of whether you or anyone consider someone successful, that person can still be objectively wrong about something.
 
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Success is relative. By any measurable criterion one can be considered more or less successful than someone else.
...but there is always rom for improvement.

Learning from failures can lead to success, but conditions can change and former successes can lead to failure.

Even more fundamentally, Success is subjective. Success is an opinion, not a fact.
...and regardless of whether you or anyone consider someone successful, that person can still be objectively wrong about something.
Man that is rather deep.

I am going to try it
 
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I cannot figure out why Marck does not or cannot or chooses not to understand what this thread is really about. IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW MANY POUNDS OF TOMATOES OR PEPPERS ARE PRODUCED BY THE HUGELKULTURE METHOD. What matters are the pounds produced in COMPARISON WITH INGROUND PLANTING. We are trying to find out a physically easier way to keep gardening due to old age. We already know how to grow more vegetables than we know what to do with so it doesn't matter how many pounds are produced by Hugelkulture or inground planting. If I could grow 50% by the Hugelkulture technique of what I normally grow inground and do it without being laid up in bed for a week, then I am all for it.
Sure this is a small experiment. All gardening is an experiment each and every growing season but what works one season usually works for the next. I have been vegetable gardening and learning about vegetable gardening for 65+ years. My parents had a vegetable truck farm with 13 acres under cultivation where we made our living until I went into the military, selling vegetables at a roadside stand, farmers markets and restaurants. I even sold San Marzano tomatoes under contract to Kraft for a couple of years so I am able to say with a small bit of authority this simple fact. Knowledge, whether gained from books or by experience must be tempered with common sense.
 
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Chuck, if you want to optimize your container culture, the 'experiment' described on this thread is not the way to do it.

Instead, do a simple experiment in which you set up several identical containers, and then alter only one variable. For example, if you want to optimize fertilizing, have one container planted with compost-enriched soil, another with chicken-manure enriched soil, another with a complete liquid formula (perhaps several different brands or formulae), yet others with granular, time-released formulae.
Of course, you could also have treatments using all the same fertilizer, but at different concentrations or frequency of application.
...and yes, you could also have containers, both with and without pieces of wood at the bottom.

I do agree that you should judge the results based on resource inputs, as well as quality and yield.
Of course, a high-yielding method would not be satisfactory if it was also too expensive, laborious, dangerous, awkward, or unpleasant.
 
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Chuck, if you want to optimize your container culture, the 'experiment' described on this thread is not the way to do it.

Instead, do a simple experiment in which you set up several identical containers, and then alter only one variable. For example, if you want to optimize fertilizing, have one container planted with compost-enriched soil, another with chicken-manure enriched soil, another with a complete liquid formula (perhaps several different brands or formulae), yet others with granular, time-released formulae.
Of course, you could also have treatments using all the same fertilizer, but at different concentrations or frequency of application.
...and yes, you could also have containers, both with and without pieces of wood at the bottom.

I do agree that you should judge the results based on resource inputs, as well as quality and yield.
Of course, a high-yielding method would not be satisfactory if it was also too expensive, laborious, dangerous, awkward, or unpleasant.
There you go again trying to make something more difficult and not really needed. If and when it is decided that this method will be FEASIBLE then it MIGHT be advantageous to test as you suggest. As we have said numerous times before, high production is NOT a goal. In my circumstance not having to bend over deeply is priority #1. #2 is keeping off of my knees and #3 is no heavy lifting. Doing as you suggest will tell us the best way for the most production. I already know the percentage of the increased production in ground planting over NON Hugelkulture container plantings. In my case it is about 35%. If I can produce only 50% of my inground plantings with the Hugelkulture that will still be more than enough production for my wife and I and it will keep me mobile. I have been growing tomatoes and peppers long enough to know, just by looking at the plant, of whether more or less or a different fertilizer is actually needed. Feasibility is key. If production is drastically reduced, say to around 80% of inground plantings then that is the time reconsider its feasibility and/or further testing and not before.
 
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I am interested in it to see if it will make container growing easier. it is that simple
 

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I am interested in it to see if it will make container growing easier. it is that simple

Skinyea,

Rereading your post, I noticed that "Okra" was one listed that your neighbor grew. Okra is one of my favorite garden veggies, certainly in the top three. We grow copious amounts every year...so I'm going to make up a third tub, wizard behind the curtain faints, to try out. That would be a game changer indeed for me if okra works in Hugelkulture container...but I have my doubts. I'll probably plant two or three seeds in the new tub to start.
 
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Skinyea,

Rereading your post, I noticed that "Okra" was one listed that your neighbor grew. Okra is one of my favorite garden veggies, certainly in the top three. We grow copious amounts every year...so I'm going to make up a third tub, wizard behind the curtain faints, to try out. That would be a game changer indeed for me if okra works in Hugelkulture container...but I have my doubts. I'll probably plant two or three seeds in the new tub to start.
I grow okra in containers every year. this will be my 1st year trying it in Hugelkulture container.
 
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Skinyea,

Rereading your post, I noticed that "Okra" was one listed that your neighbor grew. Okra is one of my favorite garden veggies, certainly in the top three. We grow copious amounts every year...so I'm going to make up a third tub, wizard behind the curtain faints, to try out. That would be a game changer indeed for me if okra works in Hugelkulture container...but I have my doubts. I'll probably plant two or three seeds in the new tub to start.
Speaking of okra. Have you ever planted okra in blocks like with corn? I have a small area of about 12' x 12' that I normally grow melons in. It would be more difficult to harvest but If I had a walkway down the middle I wonder how production would be if I planted rows 12" apart with 12" spacing between plants. Usually I plant okra 16" apart with row spacing of 3'. It would be like the old French Intensive Gardening craze from back in the 80's. I am like you, okra is probably my favorite and is excellent when frozen. I have a 60' row for okra but too much okra seems just about the right amount.
 

Meadowlark

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No Chuck, I haven't but no reason I can see that it wouldn't work. On spacing, I normally use 12 inches or even less and it seems to not mind at all. We grow so much some years that I swear I could supply the entire surrounding community for miles.

I tried that hybrid okra jambalaya last year and it was really good. I usually let a couple of plants mature to save okra seeds, but that hybrid seed didn't store well at all. They claim hybrid and if true the seeds probably wouldn't be true anyway.
 
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@Meadowlark I am gonna point out you better kill some tree rats or something and toss them in there. Your test is missing a natural part of hugelkulture, its environment and the protein containing critters that come with it. After all the decomposition will be helped with the amino acids from the protien breakdown and I suppose the Nitrogen suck of the decomposition will moderate if you add N. I guess worms or something else might do it too, but it is a container and that breaks the natural plan and puts the parts in your hands.
 
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No Chuck, I haven't but no reason I can see that it wouldn't work. On spacing, I normally use 12 inches or even less and it seems to not mind at all. We grow so much some years that I swear I could supply the entire surrounding community for miles.

I tried that hybrid okra jambalaya last year and it was really good. I usually let a couple of plants mature to save okra seeds, but that hybrid seed didn't store well at all. They claim hybrid and if true the seeds probably wouldn't be true anyway.
I use the same seeds from a direct line of seeds from the early 1800's. These seeds came over with the first Polish settlers in Texas. I got my start with these seeds about 35 years ago from a direct descendant of these early settlers. This same cultivar of seeds is now sold online under the name of Beck's Big Buck or Snapping Okra but I sorta doubt that it will do good anywhere but around here as I am sure that they have acclimatized and naturalized to this area. It is a big okra in diameter (1 1/4" - 1 1/2") and stays tender to a larger length than any other okra I have seen.
 

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