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grow tomatoes without irrigation or fertilizer

maikeru sumi-e


Joined: Dec 14, 2010
Posts: 312
Beemail wrote:Last year I used cardbbord on top of the soil, but under a layer of wood chips about 2-4 inch thick.  This method worked pretty good at keeping the weeds down.  perhaps a little to good becouse I eat some of those weeds.  This was actually done over the top of lawn and not bare soil.  This method was suggested by somebody on PFAF (plants for a future).  However that was the first year the mulch/chips was there.  In order to rot the chips need to take in nutrients from the soil especally nitrogen.  Perhaps this year without adding something the plants will become yellow with nitrogen defiency.  The existing lawn was established a long time ago and the topsoil is deep becouse of it, and perhaps held enough nitrogen for last year.


Don't think of woody stuff in the soil acting like that. Initially there is some tying up of nitrogen as decomposition goes forth, but it depends a lot on the size and amount of woody stuff incorporated into the soil. I've added sawdust as well as bark, branches, etc. to my raised bed. They don't suck nutrients, they add. What's left over given a little time will make your soil much, much better. This is part of the reason why hugelkultur works.

The two previous methods would not work in desert regions, for reasons highlighted by other people who posted. 
This year I'm going to try the dandilion method.  Starting the tomatos first, then seeding in the danilions around the tomatos.  I have not used a ground cover method yet.  I'm expecting two problems to occur.  First the calcium that the dandilions draw to the surface to cause bottom end rot in the tomatos.  Bottom end rot is the why farms in areas with sweet soil do not grow tomatos.  Tomatos prefer acid soil.  Perhaps the clover would work better.  Second the ground covers are plants that transpire water from the  ground into the air like any other plant and leave the soil less resistant to drought, especally the first year when no organic matter has had the time to build up on the surface.  But I might be wrong, hopefully, and thats why I'm trying it out this year.


Mmm, why not put the calcium back into the soil by using the dandelions as mulch? It's not necessary to have acidic soil. I grow excellent tomatoes in the basic/alkaline soil out here.


.
Mekka Pakanohida


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
paul wheaton wrote:
So I think that this would come from a combination of things.  The right guild, plus a collection of techniques to reduce water needs. 

Just to kinda prime the pump, a hugelkultur bed about six feet tall should cover most of the water needs.  Maybe in combination with a couple of tap rooted shrubs.   While the hugelkultur beds would also cover a lot of the nutrient needs, some calcium accumulators might be of some benefit.  And maybe some legumes.

What else?




Carrots, basil, lettuce, asparagus, borage, celery, chives, marigold, dill,  scarley runner bean, marjoram, nasturtium, parsley, yarrow, and parsnips would make a great polyculture.

Mekka Pakanohida


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
M. Edwards (fiveandahalffarm) wrote:
I'm assuming you don't just scatter the seeds helter-skelter?



Oh really?  I like the work of E. Hazlip and the Synergistic bed system as well as the work of Fukuoka.  Since I think Nature is chaos, I actually do spread seeds fairly helter-skelter.  How else can I get a good polyculture going in order to protect each other?
            


Joined: Mar 07, 2011
Posts: 177
Location: California
I see this dangerous sort of single-mindedness a lot, and have commented on it twice before in other threads. Adaptability is a must for the successful farmer/homesteader. Just because Sepp Holzer does something a certain way at 1500 feet up in the Austrian Alps doesn't mean it's going to work on the valley floor in central CA; it may with modifications, but that's different than saying, "Sepp does it this way and we all can/should too."
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Emerson White wrote:
Sepp is in the Austrian alps, he pumps water through a series of ponds leading up his mountain side. He grows many types of crops.


I'm pretty sure it rains more than 3 inches per year in Austria.   I thought that quote might be referring to a garden Sepp set up in another country.


Idle dreamer

Mekka Pakanohida


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
M. Edwards (fiveandahalffarm) wrote:
I see this dangerous sort of single-mindedness a lot, and have commented on it twice before in other threads. Adaptability is a must for the successful farmer/homesteader. Just because Sepp Holzer does something a certain way at 1500 feet up in the Austrian Alps doesn't mean it's going to work on the valley floor in central CA; it may with modifications, but that's different than saying, "Sepp does it this way and we all can/should too."



That's part of permaculture, see what others are doing, figure out if it CAN work for you, then try it.  If it doesn't work out, the only thing wrong then is not learning from it, and why it did or didn't work.

All other Permies can do is show you the tools, maybe talk about the why of it, but it is up to you to step up, and do it.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
M. Edwards (fiveandahalffarm) wrote:
I was more arguing that people should avoid comments that imply rigid adherence to one person's way of doing things is necessary for good results.


I haven't seen that much, to be honest.  People seem to be just showing how someone does something, not saying "and we all have to do it this way."  I don't see much rigidity in permaculture, personally.  I see a lot of people showing other people a lot of information, and trying it themselves to see if it works for them.  But that might be my interpretation! 
            


Joined: Mar 07, 2011
Posts: 177
Location: California
Maybe I'm nit-picking.. it's just a pet peeve. I wasn't trying to imply it's terribly commonplace around here, either. But it sticks out to my eyes when I do see it, and I think it begs rebuttal. I'm not even saying so much in the case of this thread - Just in general. I think it's important to encourage people to tinker and use their intuition.. to be adaptable and to be creative in their solutions. I think the attitude that anyone has a patent on the best means to reach a certain end (especially in regards to agriculture) is not only discouraging to fresh thought/ideas on the subject, but outright dangerous. I'm absolutely not harping on or trying to be critical of anyone here in particular; I'm just speaking in general terms.
maikeru sumi-e


Joined: Dec 14, 2010
Posts: 312
M. Edwards (fiveandahalffarm) wrote:
I see this dangerous sort of single-mindedness a lot, and have commented on it twice before in other threads. Adaptability is a must for the successful farmer/homesteader. Just because Sepp Holzer does something a certain way at 1500 feet up in the Austrian Alps doesn't mean it's going to work on the valley floor in central CA; it may with modifications, but that's different than saying, "Sepp does it this way and we all can/should too."


I agree.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Sepp grew a full garden without irrigation in a spot in Spain where they get only three inches of rain per year.  It is on the same very large chunk of land where he brought back lakes (where other "experts" said there had never been lakes and never could be lakes).

Much of the work of salatin is discounted because salatin's land has such deep, rich soil. 

I think it is great to have people with will quickly discount the works of genius and move back to more conventional techniques.  I would just rather not see it on these forums. 

I think it is fair to ask "where did that happen?  can I duplicate it here?"


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maikeru sumi-e


Joined: Dec 14, 2010
Posts: 312
paul wheaton wrote:
Sepp grew a full garden without irrigation in a spot in Spain where they get only three inches of rain per year.  It is on the same very large chunk of land where he brought back lakes (where other "experts" said there had never been lakes and never could be lakes).

Much of the work of salatin is discounted because salatin's land has such deep, rich soil. 

I think it is great to have people with will quickly discount the works of genius and move back to more conventional techniques.  I would just rather not see it on these forums. 

I think it is fair to ask "where did that happen?  can I duplicate it here?"




I don't think anyone is saying Mr. Holzer *isn't* a genius. He is.

btw, M. Edwards, as I understand it, Mr. Holzer is farming at 5,000 feet or so in the Alps. The challenges and difficulties are significant and shouldn't be underestimated. He's not only succeeded in farming, but also in environmental revitalization and stewardship. He has my deep respect.

I think Salatin's land has deep, rich soil *now*. One of his books mentioned that the soil on the farm had originally been very poor and cut by deep gullies. His care, respect, and practices have helped his land much. We have a lot to learn from him as well.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
paul wheaton wrote:
Sepp grew a full garden without irrigation in a spot in Spain where they get only three inches of rain per year.  It is on the same very large chunk of land where he brought back lakes (where other "experts" said there had never been lakes and never could be lakes).


Thank you.  Are there details about what was grown, how long it took to bring back the lakes, etc?  I guess what I'm looking for are more details....

                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
  all these folks are heroes to me... but they are just people. the knowledge it what is important.

  99 percent of the folks who worked at these things as long as these people would of done 80 percent as good or BETTER.... easily, with freely available knowledge. Heck I collected the info for  a complete system, in a place that has 4 months of no rain, 3 of those months without frost.... with a tiny rainy season at the end of summer.... cold night in the dead of summer, no snow cover in winter which excludes many plants that would normally be hardy here, extreme winds... and on and on.. not the most extrem but certainly extreme.  I compiled this without even realizing perma culture existed, and though i learned alot from mollison and others and still do so, everything I was working on and am working on was every bit as profound as anything they did. In fact I believe i have more then a few novel answers to some key issues as well, but am still testing them before I elaborate to others.

    these folks are trail blazers is all.... everyone should respect the trail blazer willing to cut their legs on the briars opening the way for others, but if they didnt vut the trail they couldnt of gotten through either....

    If we do our job right, and get this knowledge mainstream (yes just my personal opinion) names like mollison and sepp and the others will fade away for the bulk of people. and thats the way it should be..... (yes opinion) it opens the way for the next set of trail blazers... the minute we capitulate people to leadership roles in such a movement as this, we loose some of that diversity of action.... learn from them, love them, respect them.... but take from each whats relevant from you.... i assure you, most of us will find our best solutions, not in one of those books, but realizations we had, when contemplating their answers to different problems in relation to our own sites....
            


Joined: Mar 07, 2011
Posts: 177
Location: California
I have a great deal of respect for Holzer as well. Aside from his (nearly) impeccable techniques, he's a seriously charming character and counted amongst my personal heroes as well. I'm not being critical of Sepp as an individual; just the zombie-eyed, zealous promotion of his methods as "The Answer".
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
M. Edwards (fiveandahalffarm) wrote:
I have a great deal of respect for Holzer as well. Aside from his (nearly) impeccable techniques, he's a seriously charming character and counted amongst my personal heroes as well. I'm not being critical of Sepp as an individual; just the zombie-eyed, zealous promotion of his methods as "The Answer".


if this is directed at me, I was agreeing with you... 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
SILVERSEEDS wrote:
    Heck I collected the info for  a complete system, in a place that has 4 months of no rain, 3 of those months without frost.... with a tiny rainy season at the end of summer.... cold night in the dead of summer, no snow cover in winter which excludes many plants that would normally be hardy here, extreme winds... and on and on.. not the most extrem but certainly extreme.


I hope you will share this information with us here on the board; what you grew, how long it took to get the system up and running, yields, etc.
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I hope you will share this information with us here on the board; what you grew, how long it took to get the system up and running, yields, etc.


   I think you mis understood me a bit. I never said I had a completed system, i said I had the knowledge for a complete one... theres a distinction...... Ive been doing tests for years on soil building, and water retention/redirection etc. Learning the traits and interactions of plants etc. studying micro climates and lots of other things. A few novel ones. Also tests, testing the ranges of many plants. i couldnt describe it all if I tried, im not such a good communicator.

   Most of my staples I need to breed. I have the genetics to get the traits I need for this area. because there just arent plants with the traits lined up as I need, luckily they exist. it literally wouldnt be possible without breeding. Or permi style ideas for that matter (well unless I irrigated which would kill the areas water table if everyone did it)

    ive only been at this 3 years now, im sure noone else had a fully functioning system at 3 years either. I also had to go from scratch, their was no older system for me to improve on, like most of the others.... the tribes her needed very specific things to grow, usually areas that flood, so I couldnt model that with the land I have, nor expect designing for that to feed more then handfuls. all i was saying is the knowledge is there, and the trail blazers are certainly to be respected but, they didnt create a thing, but an idea. and the will to act on them. the knowledge was here long before any of us existed. most of it anyway, we simply understand it better now.

 

Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Ok thanks. 

Emily Jacques


Joined: Mar 13, 2011
Posts: 30
Plant tomatoes next to fence separating your yard from neighbor, who regularly waters yard (but doesn't spray). 


Blessings,
Emily
http://thecrunchycoach.com
                                


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 7
I love my self seeding cherry tomatoes. Red, and yellow. Okay, the yellows are a little tough skinned, but they are tomatoes, dang it. No matter how much I suck that year, picking the wrong kind of tomato for the Iowa drought or floods we happen to be hit with, and otherwise sabotaging my "crop" plants, I always have my wild cherries. I do not water them, and they are abundant. I salt-fermented a bunch last fall, and I'm eating my last jar now.

I am attempting to upgrade by exploring varieties of tomatoes (mostly cherries) that will come back true to seed to naturalize in a few spots in my yard. I agree with something I heard Paul say, that once they are seeding themselves, they do better than the transplants. Seems clear!
Dan D. Lyons


Joined: Feb 08, 2011
Posts: 15
Just a thought so don't be hating on me  ....instead of all the inputs of time/water resources in trying to raise that big fancy beefsteak or Cherokee purple, maybe shooting for something a bit more drought tolerant (ground cherries, tomatillos, bush cherry tomatoes) for the first year or two until your hugel bed builds up the needed subsoil moisture might be an option.
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
Not to nitpick, but a tomatillo is not a tomato. They are related, but they are not analogous, and they cannot be used in the same way in cookery.
Dan D. Lyons


Joined: Feb 08, 2011
Posts: 15
Thank you for not nitpicking and I never implied that it was In fact I don't think a ground cherry is a nightshade either.
Emerson White


Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
They are a night shade, Ground cherries are cloyingly sweet though, not at all something to grow instead of a beef steak. How do paste tomatoes do on low/no/uncertain water? I don't grow any tomatoes, so I'm flying blind on the actual growing part.
Dan D. Lyons


Joined: Feb 08, 2011
Posts: 15
Well, its been my experience that most historic bred varieties of tomato needs water and a decent amount of it.  I only have experience with growing a handful of varieties of heirlooms and only augment with occasional watering to supplement our 35" of rainfall.  However my neighbor who has about 5 acres of tomatoes under organic cultivation is constantly watering  (it seems) with drippers. Minded he is farming a more traditional monocrop plow/plant/furrow, water water water method, he does use only organic methods and keeps a cover crop on in the winter months to retain moisture/build soil. I was simply suggesting a phased-in approach to Paul's hugelkultur beds. Starting initially with drought tolerant veggies for the first couple of years until the subsoil wood is fully soaked and moisture laden and perhaps then moving on the others veggies that require more moisture.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I uploaded a podcast I did with Maddy Harland, the supreme ruler of Permaculture Magazine.  She talks with me mostly about permaculture stuff, and just a tiny bit about the magazine and books in her queen-dom.

We start off talking about her visit the mighty, the glorious, the amazing Sepp Holzer.  She went to a desert in portugal where Sepp did his thing (tamera).  Once again he brings lakes to the desert, and shows how to grow all of your favorite garden plants without irrigation in a desert.

We talk about vegetarians keeping pigs.  And I tell my story about Sepp Holzer, pigs, blackberries and a vegetarian. 

We then talk about farm income models that Sepp advocates and Sepp's book that has recently been translated to English.

Maddy has a new blog at Mother Earth News.

We talk about the works of Ben Law and Patrick Whitefield.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Dan D. Lyons wrote:
Starting initially with drought tolerant veggies for the first couple of years until the subsoil wood is fully soaked and moisture laden and perhaps then moving on the others veggies that require more moisture.


Can you recommend some drought tolerant veggies?

Thanks. 

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
This is me at the Missoula public library answering questions after we watched a Sepp Holzer movie. The question is how do you raise water sensitive garden plants without irrigation.

Techniques listed in this video include: polyculture, more humidity leads to more morning dew, hugelkultur, and tap roots.



George Lee


Joined: Mar 15, 2011
Posts: 528
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
A bed I put together the other day similar to the topics point of interest.





http://livingwind.tumblr.com/post/6222979639/inverted-sod-sweet-vine-tomato-bed-creation

I'm in upstate S. Carolina and the temps have hit near 100F with hellacious humidity lately. Thankfully we've got some good soaking storms the last two weeks. I don't have to water very often, as I situated it in some broken/partial shade, generally receiving morning sun.

Peace -


Seed Swap via Letter | Livingwind.tumblr.com | sustainable seed co
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14879
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
discussed in this podcast:  http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/340-podcast-047-gaias-garden-chapter-5/
David Miller


Joined: Sep 13, 2011
Posts: 231
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
New to the forum but wanted to share some positive results about HugelKultur with anyone interested. 

This spring (2011) I built a new bed in my backyard.  The basics are that I built the bed by digging down two feet into a 10 degree inclined hill (laterally, I dug into the hill so that the lowest part of the hill was barely dug). The incline is a guess, its a mild incline but I wanted to terrace it because it was enough to make my gardening there awkward.  Once I had dug down two feet I put old cinderblocks into the border to hold the bed (aesthetics) and then raised the lower portion using one level additional of used cinderblocks to hold/terrace back the bed.  Once complete I had a very ratty hole that promised to terrace the land if I filled it back in.

Filling it back in:  I started with logs, all of the logs from my wood pile that were rotten.  The bed is about 10x7 so how ever many logs it was, the hole had one completish level of rotten 6" logs.  I proceeded to cut the weeds from a 15x15 foot area and spread the slash onto the logs.  I had a down comforter from the winter that had worn out completely so I placed it on top of the  slash, it only covered 1/2 of the slash but I figured it would be a good second life for the comforter.  Then I put 1/2 of a spoiled round bale onto the slash.  Then I put 10 bags of compost onto the slash.  Then I put one 4x6 trailer load of partially composted leaves onto the spoiled round bale.  I got the partially composted leaves from the municipal pile.  On top of that I placed the scalped soil that had previously been on the bed.  It was sod and crab grass weed basically flipped.  On top of that I added 15 bags of mushrooom soil.  I had a few bags of garden soil and a few more of compost to top off the bed. I watered each layer thoroughly except the final soil additions which got a good rain the following day, thank goodness.

First reaction was atrocious.  The bed rose 4-5 feet up from the earth and looked like a mass grave.  I  planted the following
-three lemon grass plants
-two old and dying house plants that resemble palm trees
-four creeping thymes
-three or four greek oreganos
-three cherry tomato varieties
-one yellow plum tomato variation
-six basil varieties
-four lettuce varieties
-two lemon verbenas
-two rosemarys
-four parsleys of different variety
-scattered some dill but it never came up

I live in zone 6/7 Virginia, major clay, highish alkaline soil. I watered the bed twice this summer overnight.  I used a 55 gallons of water from my rain barrel for the task.  We had pretty great rain volume this year with pretty terrible rain timing.

Previous years I had gardened this area that receives no morning sun and no evening sun due to shade.  I had successfully grown lettuces, peppers, squash, rhubarb (which is still beside the new bed), and tomatoes of both heirloom indeterminate and cherry varieties.  These crops required consistent watering every 3 days. 

My summary is that I succeeded in reducing my watering chores to a minimum, reduced my consumed water though if I had more rain barrels it wouldn't have mattered as far as volume, this year in which we received so much.  The trick seems to be that I kept my kitchen garden well maintained with little ongoing effort as far as watering.  I hope that this bed lasts a long time but plan on planting mulching plants next year to ensure it.  Not sure how to overwinter the lemon grass while also planting cover crops.  Suggestions requested. 

David


[Thumbnail for 2011-08-31_19-31-10_571.jpg]

                              


Joined: Sep 28, 2011
Posts: 12
Location: Eastern Texas - zone 8a
H Ludi Tyler wrote:
So far my hugel beds seem to be holding water better than the surrounding soil, and the small amount of beds I had done by the hot summer last year survived better than the non-hugel parts of the garden.  This is Central Texas in severe drought, rainfall around 15 inches per year  ("average normal" rainfall about 28 inches per year) with summer temperatures of 95 F or more.   I'll be interested to see how the larger area of hugel beds I have now fares this summer.   


After this summer of severe drought, can you report on your Hugelkulture successes/failures?
                              


Joined: Sep 28, 2011
Posts: 12
Location: Eastern Texas - zone 8a
millerdavidpatrick wrote:
New to the forum but wanted to share some positive results about HugelKultur with anyone interested. 

This spring (2011) I built a new bed in my backyard.  The basics are that I built the bed by digging down two feet into a 10 degree inclined hill (laterally, I dug into the hill so that the lowest part of the hill was barely dug). The incline is a guess, its a mild incline but I wanted to terrace it because it was enough to make my gardening there awkward.  Once I had dug down two feet I put old cinderblocks into the border to hold the bed (aesthetics) and then raised the lower portion using one level additional of used cinderblocks to hold/terrace back the bed.  Once complete I had a very ratty hole that promised to terrace the land if I filled it back in.

Filling it back in:  I started with logs, all of the logs from my wood pile that were rotten.  The bed is about 10x7 so how ever many logs it was, the hole had one completish level of rotten 6" logs.  I proceeded to cut the weeds from a 15x15 foot area and spread the slash onto the logs.  I had a down comforter from the winter that had worn out completely so I placed it on top of the  slash, it only covered 1/2 of the slash but I figured it would be a good second life for the comforter.  Then I put 1/2 of a spoiled round bale onto the slash.  Then I put 10 bags of compost onto the slash.  Then I put one 4x6 trailer load of partially composted leaves onto the spoiled round bale.  I got the partially composted leaves from the municipal pile.  On top of that I placed the scalped soil that had previously been on the bed.  It was sod and crab grass weed basically flipped.  On top of that I added 15 bags of mushrooom soil.  I had a few bags of garden soil and a few more of compost to top off the bed. I watered each layer thoroughly except the final soil additions which got a good rain the following day, thank goodness.

First reaction was atrocious.  The bed rose 4-5 feet up from the earth and looked like a mass grave.  I  planted the following
-three lemon grass plants
-two old and dying house plants that resemble palm trees
-four creeping thymes
-three or four greek oreganos
-three cherry tomato varieties
-one yellow plum tomato variation
-six basil varieties
-four lettuce varieties
-two lemon verbenas
-two rosemarys
-four parsleys of different variety
-scattered some dill but it never came up

I live in zone 6/7 Virginia, major clay, highish alkaline soil. I watered the bed twice this summer overnight.  I used a 55 gallons of water from my rain barrel for the task.  We had pretty great rain volume this year with pretty terrible rain timing.

Previous years I had gardened this area that receives no morning sun and no evening sun due to shade.  I had successfully grown lettuces, peppers, squash, rhubarb (which is still beside the new bed), and tomatoes of both heirloom indeterminate and cherry varieties.  These crops required consistent watering every 3 days. 

My summary is that I succeeded in reducing my watering chores to a minimum, reduced my consumed water though if I had more rain barrels it wouldn't have mattered as far as volume, this year in which we received so much.  The trick seems to be that I kept my kitchen garden well maintained with little ongoing effort as far as watering.  I hope that this bed lasts a long time but plan on planting mulching plants next year to ensure it.  Not sure how to overwinter the lemon grass while also planting cover crops.  Suggestions requested. 

David



Regarding lemongrass, it is not cold hardy.  I would mulch it heavily but unless your bed generates heat, it is unlikely that it will overwinter for you. 

If you want to save a start, dig a portion to overwinter in a sheltered area and you will be able to replant next spring. 

You might leave one plant in the bed to see how it does.  I would cut it down and mulch thickly.  Good luck.

Thank you for sharing the photo of your successful Hugelkulture bed.  It is nice to see one in service. 
Benjamin Burchall


Joined: Sep 11, 2011
Posts: 181
Location: Atlanta, GA
Dieter wrote:
Therefore, the opposite of raised beds, sunken beds called “waffle beds”, are sometimes used in a dry climate.  But that is only possible if you have a very deep and sandy soil.  It’s no good for a shallow clay soil.


I did this in coastal Southern California (arid subtropical climate) in heavy clay soil basing it on the idea of swales. It worked very well! I can see why someone would call them waffle beds if they are arranged in that pattern. (I hadn't heard that term though.) I didn't sink whole beds though. I dug trenches and planted in then. For some plants I dug depressions for each individual plant.

Now I live in a wet climate, but there isn't any top soil. What we have is the clay sub-soil left from bad soil management (or rather, the lack of any). So, I'll probably still plant in trenches and depressions while I build top soil. Otherwise, water will just run off with little percolating down. Raised beds would help, but I'm not going to spent money on materials, nor do I want to spend the time scrounging up free stuff and building beds. I can build beds up over time.
David Miller


Joined: Sep 13, 2011
Posts: 231
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
Thanks for the advice on lemon grass, as I was suspecting I'll just have to cross my fingers.  I'm going to mulch the entire bed in hopes that I can save at least most of the plants without extensive potting.  Also attached a photo of the bed in progress for anyone interested.


[Thumbnail for CIMG0281.jpg]

George Collins


Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 85
Location: South Central Mississippi
    
    1
I don't mean to be dissin on huglekultur, I even did a small test bed myself this past year after learning of the merits of this most interesting technique. I certainly hope they are all that and more especially since I am the first kid on my block with his very own. 

This year for me has been one of many experiments. So in addition to the huglekulture experiment, there has also been a Ruth Stout mulch-it-till-you-drop experiment. 

Comparing the the two methods side by side (literally), the Ruth Stout method seems to win by a wide margin. Granted, my efforts will not stand the test of scientific rigor, but I planted a bunch of running butter beans in all sorts of wierd and strange places as well as in my huglekulture bed and in one of the spots where the cut worm helped me de-tomato a spot in my Ruth Stout test plot. (Rekon how the little bastard knew I wanted to run a pseudo-scientifical experience?)  The results were stark even to my neophytic eyes. 

I understand that the Hugelkultur will not come into its own until a year+ hence but supposedly the Stout method takes year(s) to hits its stride also. The crucial test though seems to be how well they performed side by side. Perhaps in subsequent years the Hugelkultur with kick Ruth's knickers up around her parasol but all I have to go on so far is this: the Hugelkultur test plot took up a good bit of an afternoon and the Stout test plot took up a bored minute. 

The Hugelkultur caused me to work up a really good sweat and the stout method caused me to get a few strands of hay down the front of my overhauls. 

The Hugelkulture gave my dear ol pappy fits trying to pronounce it but he didn't have any trouble picturing a woman gardening nekkid.

The hulgelture is ugly and the Stout bed is not quite as ugly. 

The huglekultur bed has a rat that calls it home whereas the Stout bed has what appears to be the location for the next Ratatouille film. 

However, as important as all that stuff is, I can't help but think about the little things . . . take water for instance. 

We went 3+ weeks with nary a drop of liquid sunshine during one stretch in August/September, my Stout stuff . . . You just laughed!  You just laughed at me cause I said we went three weeks without rain. You laughed cause you're trying to garden in some place that sometimes goes for three months without rain. Well, I see you ain't never been to The South in August. Many people have laughed. Then they come down for a spell and experience one of them there . . . How do you say it? Paradiggem shifting experiences.  Summertime in Mississippi outright won The Battle of Brice's Crossroads.  It'll kick your ass too iffn you ever get down this way.  Anhway, where was I?  Oh yeah, well, after three weeks, my Stoutkultur remained unwatered and un-in-need of aqua-terrafirma whereas my Hugelkultur bed needed a couple swigs of the wet stuff. 

And even though I've never personally seen a tomato grown in a Hugelkultur, the two in my Stoutkultur (which the cut worm obligingly let live cause he felt sorry for me (the little bastard)) are growing at a rate that can only be explained by someone slipping into my (daddy's) garden (that he let me play in the corner of) and injecting them t'maters with Arnold Schwartzenegger (notice the Austrian reference?) amounts of steroids AND Miracle Grow. 

So after what I'm sure all would agree is an all-to-brief brief set up, I ask the general you, what is the criteria for determining which method is better in a given circumstance?  Seems to me that the Stout method is infinitely easier at least on a small scale. And if water capture is an issue, seems like a heavily mulched swale with a Stout type of system located on the inferior aspect of the uncompacted and heavily mulched berm would be just what der medinizer ordered. 

Or am I missing some underlying, fundamental truth that makes a Hugelkultur the preferred method for modulating the hydrological cycle that is so self-evident that I am simultaneously showing my limited experience level as well as my low IQ? 

Please don't tell me that Sepp Hozler gardens nekkid too!


"Solve world hunger . . . tell no one."  The, the, the, . . . THE GRINCH!
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I think the idea of hugelkultur is to put a lot of carbon into the soil at one time and encourage beneficial fungus.  As I understand it, mulch tends to encourage bacterial activity.  Both are good!  I think a combination of both techniques might be super fabulous. 

Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
what is the criteria for determining which method is better in a given circumstance?


id say in no particular order

-materials
-time
-labor

if you have to import tons and tons of logs to do hugelkultur, probably not the best option. if you have tons and tons of wood waste, ruth stouts method might seem a bit out of place.

i also wouldn't determine the hugel beds productivity from the first year, it needs time to get into its sweet spot.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
David Miller


Joined: Sep 13, 2011
Posts: 231
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
hubert cumberdale wrote:

i also wouldn't determine the hugel beds productivity from the first year, it needs time to get into its sweet spot.


I'd agree, I jump-started my hugelkulter by ammending with mushroom soil to get a productive bed its first year.  Also seems that I included much of Ruth's technique as I used spoiled hay as my last layer.  Granted total I used at least 18 inches of hay, the top layer was at least 4"
George Collins


Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 85
Location: South Central Mississippi
    
    1
AHA! Mr. Lawton per his recent podcast tells us that he rarely uses Hugelkultur because the environments in which he practices his craft are not cold enough to be best served by huglekultur. If memory serves, Mr. Lawton told us that hot, wet environments would not be best served by huglekultur beds for the woody material at the core of the bed would break down too quickly to justify the amount of work that goes into their construction.

The area in which I live (south central Mississippi) has very hot, very huid summers, mild, winters and receives, on average ~65" of rain per year. Seems like this is the very type of environment that Mr. Lawton says is bad for hugelkultur. Which makes a whole bunch of sense for we have a slash pile that was left over from a clear cut performed against our will by some bitch named Katrina that ain't far from one big amorphous mass situated on top of a hill.
 
 
subject: grow tomatoes without irrigation or fertilizer
 
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