An experiment in Hugelkulture in containers


Meadowlark

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Update: Month two

PlantCurrent
PR
Status/Comments
Tub 1: celebrity tomato-Both the HK and control plants have set at least 10 fruits on each. Control plant and fruit somewhat larger
Tub 2: jalapeno pepper1.1Multiple peppers harvested on both. Slight edge in weight to the HK plant
Tub 3: green bell pepper-Multiple peppers on each plant with plants about equal
Tub 4: butter nut squash-Excellent growth continues with multiple squash on both plants; Control plant slightly larger
Tub 5: black beauty egg plant-Excellent growth on both plants with edge in growth to the HK plant
Tub 6: okra-Growing about equally.

note: PR = production ratio = weight of HK harvest/weight of control plant harvest. Goal ratio > .5

The experiment is moving into the harvest phase now with all plants showing fruit and likely month three will show results in all plants in addition to the jalapeno peppers which have already produced 5 peppers each from the HK plant and the control pant.

It is very apparent now that the so called drainage problems are not a problem at all...in fact if anything the HK plants drain too fast and need additional water.

Month three next up.
 
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The reason Marck is right, is this: would you judge the merits of growing in tubs by growing in the ground & growing in a hugelkulture tub?
Of course not.
In order to evaluate the different methods, you'd try to keep everything else as similar as possible; you do NOT deliberately include other variables, otherwise they invalidate the results.
I would have suspected that hugekulture in containers isn't great because of the nitrogen sequestration by the decomposing wood.
 
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The reason Marck is right, is this: would you judge the merits of growing in tubs by growing in the ground & growing in a hugelkulture tub?
Of course not.
In order to evaluate the different methods, you'd try to keep everything else as similar as possible; you do NOT deliberately include other variables, otherwise they invalidate the results.
I would have suspected that hugekulture in containers isn't great because of the nitrogen sequestration by the decomposing wood.
The reason is NOT to see which grows better or produces more. The reason is to see if growing in containers is FEASIBLE and if production is within 50% of inground plantings. Marck could never understand this. All he understood was us not doing a scientific treatise. We already know about inground production and regular container production but we know nothing about hugelkulture. And the reason I want to know is because of me getting old and unable to perform the actual labor involved in inground gardening and regular container gardening. As an example, I am finding that lifting and toting a 10 gallon container of soil is becoming more and more difficult. And with the hugelkulture method the actual weight of growing medium in a 10 gallon container is considerably less than a 10 gallon container of garden soil and also less than a soil compost mix.
 

Meadowlark

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The reason Marck is right, is this: would you judge the merits of growing in tubs by growing in the ground & growing in a hugelkulture tub?
Of course not.
He was wrong, just as you are wrong!! I am NOT judging the merits of growing in tubs by growing in the ground...your words.

I am assessing the feasibility of using Hügelkultur techniques in tubs to lighten the container load and still produce at an acceptable rate...the rate I set was 50% of an inground plant. I have zero interest in 200-pound containers and with HK my 20 + gallon containers are about 50 to 55 pounds instead of 200 pounds.

He was wrong about the experiment intent, he was totally wrong about the drainage, and thankfully he is no longer posting on this thread!!
 
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The reason is NOT to see which grows better or produces more. The reason is to see if growing in containers is FEASIBLE and if production is within 50% of inground plantings. Marck could never understand this. All he understood was us not doing a scientific treatise. We already know about inground production and regular container production but we know nothing about hugelkulture. And the reason I want to know is because of me getting old and unable to perform the actual labor involved in inground gardening and regular container gardening. As an example, I am finding that lifting and toting a 10 gallon container of soil is becoming more and more difficult. And with the hugelkulture method the actual weight of growing medium in a 10 gallon container is considerably less than a 10 gallon container of garden soil and also less than a soil compost mix.
That's fine, you can try it as an experiment, but the stuff in the ground is irrelevant, as far as the experiment goes, as it's different in too many ways, to provide a baseline.
 
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He was wrong, just as you are wrong!! I am NOT judging the merits of growing in tubs by growing in the ground...your words.

I am assessing the feasibility of using Hügelkultur techniques in tubs to lighten the container load and still produce at an acceptable rate...the rate I set was 50% of an inground plant. I have zero interest in 200-pound containers and with HK my 20 + gallon containers are about 50 to 55 pounds instead of 200 pounds.

He was wrong about the experiment intent, he was totally wrong about the drainage, and thankfully he is no longer posting on this thread!!
But you said, in the OP, & I quote
"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."

They are not controls. Hugelkulture in the ground would have been a control, but as a professor, you should know that words have meanings, & that the plants in the ground are not control plants.
If you had grown in two further tubs, just with compost you may have got an idea, but with the rquired different watering & feeding regimes required just by growing in tubs, rather than the ground, by the way restricting the roots of capsicums in tubs can restrict the plants, by the uncontrollable nature of the weather, you are going to learn only if you can grow in hugelkulture tubs, and the ground plants immediately become redundant.
 
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That's fine, you can try it as an experiment, but the stuff in the ground is irrelevant, as far as the experiment goes, as it's different in too many ways, to provide a baseline.
Hugelkulture will NOT be feasible if we cannot get 50% of what inground plantings provide. So, inground plantings are relevant. Otherwise how would we know the percentage of production of HK.
 

Meadowlark

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That's fine, you can try it as an experiment, but the stuff in the ground is irrelevant..

Incredibly presumptuous for you to grant permission to something well underway. I don't need your permission to do the experiment, nor is the garden production irrelevant. It is the basis for comparison.

You are most welcome to ignore this ongoing experiment and the results.

... you are going to learn only if you can grow in hugelkulture tubs, and the ground plants immediately become redundant.

Feasibility: Capable of being accomplished or brought about.

I defined the feasibility threshold as production from a Hügelkultur tub > 50% of the production from an identical plant(s) in my garden soil. Most folks can understand that...but again if you can not, you are most welcome to ignore this thread and the results.
 
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Hugelkulture will NOT be feasible if we cannot get 50% of what inground plantings provide. So, inground plantings are relevant. Otherwise how would we know the percentage of production of HK.
Haven't you been gardening long enough to KNOW what you can get out of the ground?
Both you & Meadowlark are excellent experienced gardeners, I'd expect you would know.
I'd also expect you make yourselves aware of the different & quantitative effects that variables bring to hugelkulture, like nutrition/water storage etc. So you won't be treating like for like.
What happens if you get rains in Texas like you did a couple of years back?
Your tubs will drain much better, but what about nutrient leaching?
As we all know, gardening isn't stand back & see, it's very much interactive, both pro-actively or re-actively.
Would you watch your hugelkuture tub plants die if you had to do nothing to save your plants in the ground?
I'd assume not.
 
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Incredibly presumptuous for you to grant permission to something well underway. I don't need your permission to do the experiment, nor is the garden production irrelevant. It is the basis for comparison.

You are most welcome to ignore this ongoing experiment and the results.



Feasibility: Capable of being accomplished or brought about.

I defined the feasibility threshold as production from a Hügelkultur tub > 50% of the production from an identical plant(s) in my garden soil. Most folks can understand that...but again if you can not, you are most welcome to ignore this thread and the results.
I understand it perfectly.
A feasability study is not an experiment, but it's a far better name for what you're doing.
I have just answered a post of Chuck's on this matter, but it's pertinent to this post too, in the main.
Further, to say that you "CAN" do something is not the same as saying you "MAY" do something.
"Can" means it is within your capabilities, & has nothing to do with the granting of permission, so kindly CAN the shirtiness.
 
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I have one question for both Meadowlark & Chuck:
How would you know that any difference that arises from your different growing methods, does not arise from your expertise & experience in growing in the ground, & not from the limitations of tub hugelkulture?

One further point: as this topic is in public and many, many people may read it. they may get a mistaken opinion of the value of hugelkulture if they believe that your "experiment" was scientific.
It may be interesting to see how your tub hugelkulture comes along, but no-one should place more (or less) value on your trial than it deserves.
That makes it right that any problems about the nature of what you are doing are aired, so that you do not accidentally mislead other forum users.
You do not have the right to silence me, or anyone else, on this topic, or any other topic, for this reason.
I would, however, wish you the very best of luck, as I would hope both you & Chuck could go on growing your own for many years to come.
 
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Haven't you been gardening long enough to KNOW what you can get out of the ground?
Both you & Meadowlark are excellent experienced gardeners, I'd expect you would know.
I'd also expect you make yourselves aware of the different & quantitative effects that variables bring to hugelkulture, like nutrition/water storage etc. So you won't be treating like for like.
What happens if you get rains in Texas like you did a couple of years back?
Your tubs will drain much better, but what about nutrient leaching?
As we all know, gardening isn't stand back & see, it's very much interactive, both pro-actively or re-actively.
Would you watch your hugelkuture tub plants die if you had to do nothing to save your plants in the ground?
I'd assume not.
It is impossible to know at planting how much your tomatoes or peppers will produce that year. Some years are poor, some are excellent and some are just average. If we did not use inground plantings how would we know if it was a poor year, an excellent year or an average year if we only grew in HK containers? You speak of nutrient leaching. If we had the heavy rains like in the past we would know leaching is happening and take what ever means applicable to remedy the problem. Perhaps it could be adding soil to the containers or adding more fertilizers or any number of things. What you and Marck can't seem to understand is that we will NOT be using much, if any, inground plantings in the future. This is the whole reason for the experiment. To see if HK in containers is feasible. And feasibility is 50% of inground plantings. If it isn't then it isn't and we will just have to stop gardening altogether or limit it drastically.
 
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I have one question for both Meadowlark & Chuck:
How would you know that any difference that arises from your different growing methods, does not arise from your expertise & experience in growing in the ground, & not from the limitations of tub hugelkulture?
We wouldn't and we couldn't. For one thing Meadowlark is in acid soil. I am in highly alkaline soil. He normally gets a lot more rain than I do. I rely on commercial fertilizers. He relies on nitrogen ground covers. I had a bad hail storm a couple of weeks ago and it killed my tomatoes in the experiment and just about everything else in my garden. I am now growing a couple of peppers. One in the ground and one in a HK container. Our HK container growing mediums aren't identical but very close. This is not a scientifically controlled experiment paid for by grants or the government. This is just two old men trying to figure out a way to keep gardening as we age. Our HK growing methods may be slightly different. What works for him might work for me and vice versa. Hell, it might even work for you too.
 
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It is impossible to know at planting how much your tomatoes or peppers will produce that year. Some years are poor, some are excellent and some are just average. If we did not use inground plantings how would we know if it was a poor year, an excellent year or an average year if we only grew in HK containers? You speak of nutrient leaching. If we had the heavy rains like in the past we would know leaching is happening and take what ever means applicable to remedy the problem. Perhaps it could be adding soil to the containers or adding more fertilizers or any number of things. What you and Marck can't seem to understand is that we will NOT be using much, if any, inground plantings in the future. This is the whole reason for the experiment. To see if HK in containers is feasible. And feasibility is 50% of inground plantings. If it isn't then it isn't and we will just have to stop gardening altogether or limit it drastically.
You make my point very well.
How do you know whether a good year for hugelkulture might be a bad year for conventional growing, or vice versa?
At least if you are growing all in tubs, with some of them hugelkulture, you're eliminating the biggest variable
Or a good year for tub growing & bad for conventional growing, or vice versa?
What's beneficial for one type of growing might be calamitous for another.
How do you know whether somerthing that's a quick easy fix in the ground isn't fatal for hugelkulture tubs?
Because you have so many variables, the value of your results is diminished.
If it's weight you're worried about, why not:
a) Use smaller tubs.
b) Part-fill your tubs with styrofoam (polystyrene), which is inert & won't have to be replaced.
 
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We wouldn't and we couldn't. For one thing Meadowlark is in acid soil. I am in highly alkaline soil. He normally gets a lot more rain than I do. I rely on commercial fertilizers. He relies on nitrogen ground covers. I had a bad hail storm a couple of weeks ago and it killed my tomatoes in the experiment and just about everything else in my garden. I am now growing a couple of peppers. One in the ground and one in a HK container. Our HK container growing mediums aren't identical but very close. This is not a scientifically controlled experiment paid for by grants or the government. This is just two old men trying to figure out a way to keep gardening as we age. Our HK growing methods may be slightly different. What works for him might work for me and vice versa. Hell, it might even work for you too.
I'm sorry about your weather disaster.
If you have to stop growing in the ground, & if hugelkulture is you only option for continued growing, then do it, concentrate on it, learn about it, everything you can.
There is no point in waiting for this experiment; say thank you & wave goodbye to growing in the ground, & just get on with doing your container growing, however you choose to do it.
 
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You make my point very well.
How do you know whether a good year for hugelkulture might be a bad year for conventional growing, or vice versa?
At least if you are growing all in tubs, with some of them hugelkulture, you're eliminating the biggest variable
Or a good year for tub growing & bad for conventional growing, or vice versa?
What's beneficial for one type of growing might be calamitous for another.
How do you know whether somerthing that's a quick easy fix in the ground isn't fatal for hugelkulture tubs?
Because you have so many variables, the value of your results is diminished.
If it's weight you're worried about, why not:
a) Use smaller tubs.
b) Part-fill your tubs with styrofoam (polystyrene), which is inert & won't have to be replaced.
There are, IMO, only 3 things that will affect on whether one will have a poor, average or excellent year. Weather, pests and disease. And pests and disease are largely caused by the weather.
I don't understand why you are so picky about this. You are just theorizing about what might happen, throwing out what if this happens or that happens. AFAIK a plant is a plant and soil is soil no matter if it is in a 7 gallon container or in the middle of 1000 acres. The basics are the same. Nutrition, oxygen, water and sunlight. About the weight you say use smaller tubs. You know as well as I that tomatoes do best in a minimum of 5 gallon. If my strength and muscles weaken enough perhaps I will change from a 7 gallon to a 5. Remember the 50% rule? Anything 5 gallon or less and I can assure you that the 50% rule will apply, whether HK or just plain container gardening.
You are making a mountain out of a molehill. Just what is wrong with us using 1/3rd rotten tree limbs 1/3rd compost/leaf mold and 1/3rd garden soil in a container? Are we insane? Delusional? Just for trying something in a container that has been done successfully for hundreds of years on the ground? And that's all it is basically. What is so hard to understand about this?
 
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Meadowlark

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Meanwhile the experiment continues, ignoring the sniping.

The butternut squash appears to be about finished with its production cycle. It isn't really a hot weather plant, but I tried it for increased variety in this experiment. Interestingly it came in just above the target at .53 production rate. There may be one or two fruits more here and there, but it's basically finished unless the predicted rains this weekend rejuvenate it. The two plants produced about 120 ounces, more than enough for our use.

My conclusion, based on the .53 PR, is that butternut squash is feasible for future application of HK in tubs.

The big yellow is what happens when you fail to spot a small yellow squash, LOL.

butternut HK.JPG
 
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Meanwhile the experiment continues, ignoring the sniping.

The butternut squash appears to be about finished with its production cycle. It isn't really a hot weather plant, but I tried it for increased variety in this experiment. Interestingly it came in just above the target at .53 production rate. There may be one or two fruits more here and there, but it's basically finished unless the predicted rains this weekend rejuvenate it. The two plants produced about 120 ounces, more than enough for our use.

My conclusion, based on the .53 PR, is that butternut squash is feasible for future application of HK in tubs.

The big yellow is what happens when you fail to spot a small yellow squash, LOL.

View attachment 90016
That butternut will really be good in about Jan or Feb. What yellow squash I am getting after the hail is really being diminished because of this day after day record or near record setting high temperatures. It has been 99F-102F for about 10 days in a row now. And not a drop of rain in sight. Okra loves it.
 

Meadowlark

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Yes the heat is definitely taking a toll....but my weather guy says some relief this weekend with rain showers. Okra doesn't seem to care, the hotter the better.
 
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Yes the heat is definitely taking a toll....but my weather guy says some relief this weekend with rain showers. Okra doesn't seem to care, the hotter the better.
Yeah, our extended weather forecast shows east Texas with a slight chance. Here, not so much. Possibly enough to settle the dust but not enough to get mud on the bottom your boots.
 

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