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Hilling Plants


Native American Indians knew the benefits of hilling plants (or mounding plants). When early American settlers arrived in the New World, they found Indians cultivating their fields, using this technique. While hilling plants is commonly practiced in cool weather areas and in wet climates, it can be advantageous almost anywhere.

Here are the major advantages of hilling, or mounding plants:

First, the elevated soil warms quicker than the surrounding garden soil. Hilling allows more soil exposure to the warming rays of the sun, and to the air. This allows you to begin your planting season earlier. It can also translate into extra days of gardening in the fall.

Secondly, excess moisture can drain off and away from seeds and plants. Cold, heavy spring rains that rot seeds and drown roots of your seedlings can be minimized, or avoided, by hilling a raised bed.   

Hilled soil, or raised bed soil, is less compacted, making air pockets and and nutrients more accessible to your plants. The looser soil allows your plants to more readily spread and grow a healthy root system. 

In drier areas, hilling may not be desired, as much needed water can drain away. But, your can always add water. It's more difficult to take it away.

Tip: When hilling plants, bury healthy amout of compsot under the soil of the hill. Your plants will thank you!

How to Hill Plants:

Hilling is easy! It is done either in mounds for individual plants, or in rows.  

To hill or mound individual plants, take a few shovels of rich garden soil and form a mound. Three to six inches high is enough. Bury a large amount of compost and well rotted manure underneath the mound.  Once the soil has warmed a bit, plant your seeds or seedlings. This works great for pumpkins, squash, cucumber, potatoes, and watermelon.

To hill rows, shovel three to six inches of soil in a row the length you need. Use a rake to smooth the row. Then use a hoe to dig your furrows and plant seeds. This works great with peas, which can be grown as soon as the ground can be worked. It allows an earlier start for a wide range of plants, including corn and beans You can hill potatoes in rows, too.

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