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perhaps misdirected

 
Brian Murray
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A year ago I started to build swales on my place in North east missouri.
This idea was taken from a book I read. After getting about 10 yards into the project a local Permaculture group warned me that this does not work well in this area. Was I misinformed or is there a problem with a method of burying limbs and wood in the sWales in some areas.
The test bed seems to be doing well with no sign of the cut worms I was warned of.
I have a row of brush about 80 yards long that could be buried in the spring but now I'm undecided.
Any feedback that could come from those further ahead of me on this trail would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks Brian
 
Miles Flansburg
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Brian, since you are already so far along I think I would keep going and see what happens.
Did they say why it usually doesn't work?
 
Brian Murray
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They claimed that cut worms in the third year were a big issue.
 
John Elliott
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Brian Murray wrote:They claimed that cut worms in the third year were a big issue.


Not the first or the second, but the third year? Very puzzling. Why would the problem show up then? Sounds like a tenuous connection to me, I'd like to hear the reasoning and science behind it.
 
Brian Murray
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I'm not sure of the reasoning.
The test bed has pokeweed, chickweed, and lamb quarter dancing with glee all over it in season.
 
Daniel Clifford
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Hi,
Although I have little experience with hugel beds. I plan on starting some as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

A little research on cutworms tells me they are hosts for paritic wasps. Perhaps the thing to do would be to plant wasp attracting plants in your hugel beds at points and allow the wasps to manage any cutworms.

Apparently the conventional control method is to till which is obviously not what the hugel bed is for. I would definitely encourage the local wasp population if you think this will be a problem. Anyhow goodluck and thanks for sharing.

 
Charles Tarnard
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I have cutworms in my hugel in year one. I'm pretty certain it's because I've put food there, and now bugs want to eat it. It's not a horrible infestation (or wasn't before winter), but I found a few. They started in my traditional raised beds, though and then moseyed their way over to the hugel. I'm reasonably certain that if I built a hugel and didn't put anything tasty there, no bugs would arrive.
 
Brian Murray
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Thanks for the input so far.
The wasp info struck home for me as the first outhouse that was built is 30 yards from the test bed.it has a huge wasp population in it during the summer.
When I first moved here the first thing that was done was to mow the weeds and thorn bushes to make room for more grass.
This proved to be and stupid move on my part, as later the knowledge of wild edibles and medicinal uses of plants came to be an interest.
I made a vow to myself to never destroy something that was not understood.
Seems the wasp population is a great result of that concept.
Did give up the use of the outhouse though.grin
 
Brian Murray
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I feel of only fair to add that I have nothing but the deepest respect for the person that advised me of this. I'm also sure that there was some hands on info that resulted in this opinion.
Just wanted more opinions on the matter before investing the labor.
Peace Brian
 
jimmy gallop
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You can have cut worms anyway not because of the built swales.
go ahead and do what you were going to do .
If that produced cut worms it would do it every where,not just your area.
I will say they aren't caused by what you do to the land but by ideal conditions for that year.
 
Keith Odell
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I may be off base but I don't believe the parasitic wasps were the same type that drove you out of the privy.
 
Brian Murray
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Lol keith, I realized after looking it up how stupid I looked.
I have a lot of fun laughing at myself sometimes,thought I'd leave the post to tickle the funny bone of others.hope the smile lasted a while.
 
Josef Theisen
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Insect populations can vary widely based on numerous factors, including geology, plant cover, nearby water, microclimate, vegetation, the color of a nearby building, and on and on and on... Just because your friend had that experience does not mean that you will. I would try it, and even if you have bad pest problems be patient. Often an explosion of pests will lead to an increase in their predators and the system will balance itself out to a managable level (unless of course you use chemicals to kill the pests and end up killing their predators as well.) You can also add water features, housing (rock piles or shrubs), or food (flowers, or trap crops) to help encourage a strong predator population.

Cutworms mostly go after young seedlings. A 2" tall piece of toilet paper tube set around each seedling will deflect the worms as they march and can be used to get plants you are worried about past the vulnerable stage.
 
Brian Murray
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Thanks for the reply josef.
There are a lot of things you mentioned that are already in place, sure excites me to feel like I'm on the right track.
The term trap crops is something new. Could someone give some examples of this. Turnips were planted around the east edge of my garden system to fill the bellies of the bugs before they got to other plants, is this what the term means or something else.
 
Brian Murray
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Not fond of chemicals , bugs as food would be more appealing.
 
Josef Theisen
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Brian Murray wrote:Turnips were planted around the east edge of my garden system to fill the bellies of the bugs before they got to other plants, is this what the term means or something else.


That is a perfect example. A trap crop could be anything, but is planted with the intention of distracting pests rather than something you plan to harvest. Sort of a sacrificial offering.

I keep a variety of flowers, striving for continuous bloom as long as our season allows. There are numerous very tiny (and harmless to humans) parasitic wasps that need pollen and water to thrive in their adult stage, but will lay their eggs on caterpillars. The larvae eat the pesky catarpillars from the inside out before transforming. Creepy but effective.

I think the ideal approach is to have a polyculture including trap crop plants, a variety of flowers, shrubs and aromatic herbs to create a low maintenance and beautiful barrier for your garden.
 
Brian Murray
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This forum is a great resource, my confidence level is growing by leap and bounds.
Thanks to all that responded to my question, you have been a big help.
My decision is to continue with the project as suggested in the first response, only difference will be that now that I've had a while to stew on the planning process , the expectations of volume has now tripled.
Happy harvests
Brian
 
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