Potatoes Hugelkulture/Wood chips test 2014

HighlandRimJuly 30, 2014

Just wanted to relay the results I had in a small experiment with growing red potatoes in a raised bed with half the area done as a low hugelkulture bed, and the rest wood chip mulched.

The bed is 4 X 10 feet split into 4 X 5 sections, with one half having 4-6 inch wild cherry logs buried 8 inches deep. Both sections were mulched about 3-4 inches deep with mixed hardwood woodchips from the local utility trucks. Fertilization was about 4 pounds of 15-15-15 and 1 pound of lime.

I planted on March 21st, but due to a cold snap in early april all the plants were frozen back to ground level so a "real" planting date could be considered to be a little later than normal for our area. Harvest was done yesterday July 29th. Two pounds of cut seed potatoes went into each section.

The yield for the 4 X 5ft mulched section was 28.8 pounds, and the yield for the mulched and buried log section was 43.8 pounds, so it looks like I'll be burying more logs this fall...

One interesting observation about the difference in the sections was that the area with buried logs showed evidence of mycelium all though the soil from logs through the wood chips, while the chip mulched area did not show nearly the same amount of fungal growth.

Interesting results, so I guess I'll keep the bed the same next year and see what the effect is as the chips and logs age.

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I planted ten sea berry seedlings around the orchard perimeter this spring. Three had four old (4 yrs+) oak logs, about 6 inches diameter, 2 to 3 feet. Seven had nothing. All ten got mulched with leaves.They were watered reasonably well.The three survived, the seven did not.

Note however that hugelkultur will work with a majority of plants, those that use micorrhyzal exchange. All trees and shrubs, solanaceae, legumes, cucurbita, allium. But not beta or brassica.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 6:01PM
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In fact, on my own I had come to the decision of burying logs under all trellises. Also of note: some trees I planted in Fall died (due to the severe winter), on digging them up I noticed that were there were buried logs the soil was finely ground, where there were no logs it was the usual hard clay.

For me it is a no brainer, the question is should I go to the extent of establishing some permanent log beds, only to be populated with micorrhyzal vegetables. I do grow more beta and brassica than most so it would affect my crop rotation. Also what would happen with root vegetables. Would I be able to dig carrots and parsnips if they were to penetrate a log.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 7:04PM
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lantanascape(z6 Idaho)

Very interesting about brassicas, I'm glad I read that! I have some fall seedlings started and was planning to put them in my new hugelkulter bed, but maybe I'll save that for greens and put the brassicas where the squash bugs just did in my zucchini.

These are the beds I just built at the beginning of the month. I lined the bottoms of two of them with chicken feed bags to slow infiltration since we're in such a dry environment. Hoping that will speed up the rotting process. This was a low-tech solution after planning to put together some more complicated self-watering beds.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 11:42PM
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The beds look very good. It is a lot of OM and a lot of water capacity. No need to fertilize with anything but nitrogen for the next ten years, and plants, once they touch the mycelium, will have access to the whole woodpile in terms of nutrients and water. You should experiment, but I think it would be worth assigning those beds only to those vegetables.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 10:31PM
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