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Testing - Hugelkultur vs Standard Plot  RSS feed

 
Steve Landau
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Location: Vermont
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My wife wanted me to prove this work.  -  

Right next to each other.  - Squash on the Hugel,  and Squash on Tilled soil.

No Watering,    The plants on the Hugel are at least 3x as high,  and 4x the mass.     You can tell by the height of the leaves next to the shovel.
   I would say this is a good controlled experiment.

The grass was from seed left in the soil after tilling.

Hugel-Squash.jpg
[Thumbnail for Hugel-Squash.jpg]
Squash on Hugel - 24" mound with logs and stick
Tilled-Squash.jpg
[Thumbnail for Tilled-Squash.jpg]
Squash on Tilled Ground
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I wonder how much of the difference is attributable to the grass?
 
wayne fajkus
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Less competition to water?
 
Steve Landau
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Location: Vermont
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Maybe the water,  but the grass is not very dense.  it looks more dense than it is.     It's surprising that it is the same roti-tilled topsoil  on the hugel bed and in the tilled bed.  
 
Wes Hunter
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Location: Missouri Ozarks
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It's sort of a controlled experiment, with the idea that you don't seem to be doing anything to either plot.  But the hugel plot has the benefit of a sort of implied weeding (through mulching), where the other plot isn't being weeded at all.  I wonder if a better experiment wouldn't have been to mulch the standard plot, so that what you're comparing is two mulched squash seedings, one on hugel and one on tilled ground?

At any rate, it shows the benefit of hugelkultur from a hands-off (after planting, at least) method.

Also, don't discount the possibility of considerable soil variation within even a small space.  I have squash plants, interplanted with field corn, that are perhaps 10' apart but that show similar variation as in your photos (the corn, too).  There's just that much difference in soil fertility.
 
Helen Butt
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Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
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The difference could be in fertility rather than tilling. Have there been any amendments to the tilled soil?

Also, you would need to do the same experiment next year, and the year after to get a clearer idea of whether it was generally true that the hugel beds were more productive.

That's not to knock hugel beds - I certainly think mine are an advantage, although I don't think it is because of tilling. Basically, having just dug my beds, the soil will de facto have been tilled.
 
Amit Enventres
Posts: 437
Location: Ohio, USA
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There is definite signs of nutrient deficiency in the "standard plot" along with more weed competition. My guess is nitrogen. My guess is that your hugel bed is already being broken down or included some nitrogen-rich stuff to off-set the ton of carbon hugels usually have. I should also mention that in my experience, however, squash LOVES compost and usually doesn't shy away from hanging out in something half decomposed where as some other crops might suffer a little.

That all said, I think this little anecdotal experiment shows that for you, this year, your squash is happier on hugel. Good job and thank you for sharing. If more people do this and share here (both the good and the bad), we could move from anecdotal to clinical trial.

I have some squash I grew on leaf compost covered w/garden soil and straw bales covered with garden soil. The leaf ones looked very pathetic and died. The strawbales looked a little pathetic, were fed calcium and took off. Now they have conquered my fence tomatoes creating one of the many areas of chaos that I forage for food in. On the other hand, I planted some gourds at the other end of the yard with some compost or "garden soil" next to it, the seed going into normal soil. They thought about what they were going to do for a while, then took off and are creating chaos where they roam. On the side yard I have some other unknown squash that received some garden soil and a similar (or so I thought) treatment but are more or less pathetic and going no where. Same in the front. This could be related to the types of squash- the gourd, zucchini, and butternut might just be overall better adapted than the pumpkin and watermelon. However, two years ago I grew one squash almost in a compost pile and another away from it. Compost baby went butter-nutts and the other was butter-pathetic.
Oh, I should note I live in a generally wet environment, rain usually 1/week and I do water if I see something dry.
 
Susan Hutson
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May I take this post a little further and ask  for opinion on placing in a 60cm raised bed straw bales still tightly bound bit of old wood and leaves and manure and then topping with a 20 cm layer of good soil. My belief is it would be very cost effective to do this and it would also hold water ++++ which would negate the need for everyone to turn to wicking beds. Do not get me wrong I like the wicking bed idea but I think it is an expensive exercise which has alternatives. Thanking you in advance
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think buried wood beds or mulch pits are preferable to wicking beds.  I also see wicking beds as expensive and resource-heavy, and something to be avoided in most circumstances.

https://permies.com/t/52077/Buried-Wood-Beds
 
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