Regular reader Leon is just dialing it in with his hugelkultur experiment. He posted something cool in the comments section of a post I did a while back. I decided I needed to re-post it – because it’s brilliant:
“(…) That reminds me of another experiment I did last summer – I dug a hole with a posthole digger and stuffed it with rolled up phone books and catalogues. Then I covered it with a bit of sand and planted cow-peas on the top of that hole and a few control holes (with nothing but sand inside). No irrigation except for the rain. Plants on top of yellow pages were about 3 times as big and lived a whole month longer into the Fall and almost made it to seed (I planted them pretty late, July, I think). I take it means that here water is the main limiting factor (and it’s great to finally have a way to use them stupid catalogues for
something good :)”
Three times as big. That’s success!
These are the kind of things you do when you color outside the lines and don’t live your life by the “conventional wisdom.” These “eureka” moments make gardening exciting. We’re interacting with a dynamic, living world and sometimes something as weird as burying a phone book can cause very productive results.
I wonder if specific sections of the phone book would be more conducive to plant growth? For example, if you planted an invasive plant over the “legal” section of the Yellow pages, would it die from fear?
UPDATE On The Phone Book Hugelkultur Experiment:
“Checked on the phone books in March of 2013 – they’re pretty much still there and wet as a sponge (much more so than the sand around). New plants (chaya) planted on the top. At another location a newly planted poplar tree planted next to a “yellow pages hole” survived my 3 week absence (and lack of watering) but the one further away did not. I’m running out of catalogs and such – now I’m sticking them everywhere I plant anything!”
This is similar to the melon pit idea I write about in my book. Hugelkultur is just hitting mainstream – let’s build on it with millions of experiments!