An experiment in Hugelkulture in containers


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random statement. My neighbor suggested not using pine in HK containers. He said he gets better product/longevity from using harder woods in the containers.
I set up 8 containers using the hk deal. will be interesting to see how things turn out
 
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Meadowlark

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I've read the same thing on pine.

On your 8, are you going to try different veggies? If so, which ones? More data the better. It definitely does appear to me, not surprisingly, that certain veggies do better than others in the HK containers. I'm really looking forward to trying several different brassicas this fall.

This technique appears ripe for refinement with experience.
 
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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?
I want:
1) The advice on this forum to be as accurate as possible.
2) You & Meadowlark to succeed.

As I've said before, I consider you two to be the two of the best grow-your-owners on here, so whilst I am criticising, I am also aware that you are equipped, by expertise & experience, to overcome the criticism with solutions.
What would be the point of laying such criticism at the door of newbies?
They'd just think it was all too much & throw in the towel.
I think we know you well enough to know that you'll want to succeed here, if its possible, & although I may have ruffled a few feathers, if it gives either of you food for thought, is that not of any value?
 
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I've read the same thing on pine.

On your 8, are you going to try different veggies? If so, which ones? More data the better. It definitely does appear to me, not surprisingly, that certain veggies do better than others in the HK containers. I'm really looking forward to trying several different brassicas this fall.

This technique appears ripe for refinement with experience.
I can see problems with brassicas, in that decomposition tends to be an acidic process, whilst brassicas like neutral/alkaline soil, as they were originally shore plants. (I've just finished foraging sea-kale & have a glut of sea-beets, whilst sea radish is just flowering now)
Any thoughts?
By the way, criitical thinking is not sniping, nor is it necessarily unfriendly, it is a basis for problem solving.
 
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I've read the same thing on pine.

On your 8, are you going to try different veggies? If so, which ones? More data the better. It definitely does appear to me, not surprisingly, that certain veggies do better than others in the HK containers. I'm really looking forward to trying several different brassicas this fall.

This technique appears ripe for refinement with experience.
2 Tomato Amish Paste, 2 Jalepeno.2 Okra, 2 Brussells Sprouts. 2 each in Containers except Brussells Sprouts. 1 each.
 
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I put together a new raised bed in 2020 Hugelkulture style. Didn't plant in it until 2021 and it was a dismal failure except for a genovese basil plant which trived. This year, same crops (garlic and onions, no basil) and so far it seems to be doing a lot better, but not great. I'm not certain what it is but it could be that the soil I filled it with wasn't so good. It was a mix of about 80% kellogg raised bed soil + about 20% Kellogg garden soil. They stopped carrying kellogg at my home depot starting 2021 and at the end of the growing year 2020 they had it on clearance for $2 a bag! So that's what I filled it with. I filled the bottom with the limbs (so I say about 1/4 of the bed is limbs and the bed is 18" deep). I guess it could also be that some of the wood was not decayed enough, but it was old fallen and trimmed limbs that were sitting around for 3+ years on my property and looked well decayed. Hopefully it progressively gets better as the years go by or i'll have to empty it and start anew (no Hugelkulture next time - TBH, the only reason I did Hugelkulture for this bed was to get rid of some of those limbs as I don't have the money to get it all hauled away lol).
 
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I put together a new raised bed in 2020 Hugelkulture style. Didn't plant in it until 2021 and it was a dismal failure except for a genovese basil plant which trived. This year, same crops (garlic and onions, no basil) and so far it seems to be doing a lot better, but not great. I'm not certain what it is but it could be that the soil I filled it with wasn't so good. It was a mix of about 80% kellogg raised bed soil + about 20% Kellogg garden soil. They stopped carrying kellogg at my home depot starting 2021 and at the end of the growing year 2020 they had it on clearance for $2 a bag! So that's what I filled it with. I filled the bottom with the limbs (so I say about 1/4 of the bed is limbs and the bed is 18" deep). I guess it could also be that some of the wood was not decayed enough, but it was old fallen and trimmed limbs that were sitting around for 3+ years on my property and looked well decayed. Hopefully it progressively gets better as the years go by or i'll have to empty it and start anew (no Hugelkulture next time - TBH, the only reason I did Hugelkulture for this bed was to get rid of some of those limbs as I don't have the money to get it all hauled away lol).
That sounds, to some extent like nitrogen sequestration.
Basil has only shallow roots & they may be above the affected soil.
Many people believe that garlic & onions only produce shallow roots, but that's because they break easily when pulled, & also because they die off first, & is why the leaves brown to let you know they'll not be growing anymore; given the chance onions will put down 18" & longer roots.
 
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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

View attachment 87999

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

View attachment 88001

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

View attachment 88002

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

View attachment 88003

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.
Very interesting. Please provide us updates on the progress. :)
 
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I put together a new raised bed in 2020 Hugelkulture style. Didn't plant in it until 2021 and it was a dismal failure except for a genovese basil plant which trived. This year, same crops (garlic and onions, no basil) and so far it seems to be doing a lot better, but not great. I'm not certain what it is but it could be that the soil I filled it with wasn't so good. It was a mix of about 80% kellogg raised bed soil + about 20% Kellogg garden soil. They stopped carrying kellogg at my home depot starting 2021 and at the end of the growing year 2020 they had it on clearance for $2 a bag! So that's what I filled it with. I filled the bottom with the limbs (so I say about 1/4 of the bed is limbs and the bed is 18" deep). I guess it could also be that some of the wood was not decayed enough, but it was old fallen and trimmed limbs that were sitting around for 3+ years on my property and looked well decayed. Hopefully it progressively gets better as the years go by or i'll have to empty it and start anew (no Hugelkulture next time - TBH, the only reason I did Hugelkulture for this bed was to get rid of some of those limbs as I don't have the money to get it all hauled away lol).
Overtime, your raised bed will get better and better. Also, you may want to consider adding a bit more mulch.
 

Meadowlark

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Very interesting. Please provide us updates on the progress. :)
Welcome aboard!

I've been posting mid-monthly updates (two so far) as we go along interspersed in with the various comments.

The third update in mid-June will have a lot more data from each of the 6 tubs.

I believe your comment above about the HK getting better over time is correct just based on the limited experience I've gained thus far. I saw a good deal of settling early on in my tubs, but it has since stabilized.

Thanks for your interest.
 
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Welcome aboard!

I've been posting mid-monthly updates (two so far) as we go along interspersed in with the various comments.

The third update in mid-June will have a lot more data from each of the 6 tubs.

I believe your comment above about the HK getting better over time is correct just based on the limited experience I've gained thus far. I saw a good deal of settling early on in my tubs, but it has since stabilized.

Thanks for your interest.
Those tub gardens are a great idea - and they will get better overtime. :)
 
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Meadowlark

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Update: Month three (mid June)

PlantCurrent
PR
Status/Comments
Tub 1: celebrity tomato

0.57
Production nearing completion
Tub 2: jalapeno pepper

0.88
Production slowing down
Tub 3: green bell pepper

0.96
Both plants going strong
Tub 4: a) butter nut squash

0.63
Production cycle complete
Tub 4: b) cucumberstarted after squash finished; no production yet
Tub 5: black beauty egg plant
0.27
Production going strong on both plants
Tub 6: okra1Production going strong and equal


Over 700 ounces of produce collected in this experiment and thus far a composite production ratio of 0.61 or said differently Hügelkultur in containers is producing 61% on average across 7 veggies what my garden produces. The target was 50% for feasibility when we started the experiment.

I'll update the numbers at least once more but temps are hitting 100 deg. here now every day so production, except for okra and egg plant, is slipping.
 
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1 thing regarding this method. I have had 2 water my 8 tubs more so than the other tubs. just by a few days but it is definitely more.

other than that, the plants look identical.
 

Meadowlark

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Yes, same here.

I knew this was wrong when it was written:

"Adding layers of solid objects in a container is not just a discontinuity, it's a likely obstruction. ...
, it's a disaster waiting to happen."

All 7 of my tubs of Hügelkultur require more water than the corresponding ground plants. In fact, several of my HG plants went too long before I realized I needed to check them more frequently for water...and it likely hurt their production. The only drainage problem is too fast drainage.
 
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MY 8 HK have about the same growth and flowers as the other 36 tubs. everything looks the same. will be interesting to see how much veggies I get from each.
 

Meadowlark

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Mid July update. Production slowed/stopped until fall and cooler weather returns for most plants.

Feasibility well established with all 7 veggies selected exceeding the 0.50 threshold target selected at the beginning of the experiment and over 1150 total ounces of produce harvested.

Looking forward to fall where I will try out many new veggies in the HK containers. I'm convinced the technique
works and with better management techniques learned over this experiment looking forward to driving that production ratio even closer to 100%.

Update: Month four (mid-July)

PlantCurrent
PR
Status/Comments
Tub 1: celebrity tomato

0.72
Production complete for summer. Control plant produced over 20 pounds of nice medium sized tomatoes w
HK plant having just slightly smaller ones and slightly fewer ones. Better attention to watering would have improved the ratio considerably.
Tub 2: jalapeno pepper

1.19
Production slowed until fall/cooler weather. The HK pepper plant produced nearly three pounds
of beautiful peppers over the duration of the experiment.
Tub 3: green bell pepper

0.97
Both plants have slowed/stopped production until fall but produced many nice bell peppers about equally in size and number.
Tub 4: a) butter nut squash

0.63
Production cycle complete.
Tub 4: b) cucumber0.83Production cycle complete; sun burning both plants up.
Tub 5: black beauty egg plant
0.95
Surprising production continuing. More eggplant than I can use produced about equally.
Tub 6: okra0.93Production going strong and about equal.


Composite: 0.81 across 7 different veggies producing over 1151 ounces
 
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I have 8 hk containers. so far all 8 are almost the exact same as the 8 regulars. I am zone 6b so have along way to go but the few changes

1. I water the HK containers almost 2 to1 vs reg. containers. might be an issue if I go out of town for a week
2. 1 HK tomato plant had early blight. nothing on any others
3. moving the hk containers are clearly eaiser
 
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Meadowlark

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Same here,

Yes, I experienced the 2 to 1 ratio also...but only after the HK plants suffered some. The rumors of drainage problems proved completely unfounded and the use of side vent holes totally unnecessary and in fact harmful.

The mobility of the containers using HK cannot be understated. The reduced weight without significant loss of production is huge!
 

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