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Properly hilling vegetables: step-by-step guide

Hilling, a valuable agronomic method, contributes to robust vegetable growth. Discover the process and the array of benefits it brings to plant health and yields.

by BioGrow

Hilling is a straightforward agronomic practice that can contribute to the robust and thriving growth of our vegetables. Let’s delve into its advantages and learn how to implement it. Whether engaging in domestic or professional agriculture, it is essential to hill specific vegetable species for optimal outcomes. During autumn and winter, when plants face the challenges of adverse weather conditions, hilling helps shield them from the elements and facilitates their growth.

Now, let’s explore the vegetables that benefit from this procedure. Additionally, we’ll comprehend when and how to carry it out accurately.

Understanding Hilling

Hilling is a customary technique in traditional agriculture. This approach entails transferring a portion of the soil from between rows to the base of the plant. Its aims and benefits are diverse:

  • Firstly, it provides protection for plants against cold and wind. By returning soil to the plant’s base, it safeguards more delicate parts. Simultaneously, the plant gains stability in the soil, enabling it to withstand the effects of the wind.
  • Weed removal. Shifting soil from between rows to the base of the plant eradicates existing weeds. As the main crop grows in the following days, it outcompetes weed growth due to reduced light and space.
  • The third advantage is the stimulation of new adventitious root development in plants.
  • Lastly, hilling coincides with blanching for certain vegetables, enhancing both aesthetics and taste.

Now, let’s focus on the vegetables that derive benefits from this technique.

Choosing Vegetables for Hilling

Earthing up of fennel

Earthing up of fennel

Not all plants require hilling; some respond very well to this practice, while for others, the advantage is minimal. Potatoes are the cultivar that benefits most from hilling. In addition to the aforementioned advantages, this technique prevents the greening of shallower tubers. Other crops that are commonly hilled are cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, savoy cabbage, black cabbage, all vegetables cultivated in autumn and winter. A vegetable that benefits from both hilling and blanching for improved quality is fennel. Hilling involves covering the plant’s core with soil, promoting enlargement. Other crops where hilling and blanching coincide are celery, leeks, and onions. This technique should be repeated multiple times, following the vegetables’ growth. For example, with fennel, it is performed 3 or 4 times every 15-20 days. It commences when the core starts to enlarge and concludes about twenty days before the anticipated harvest.

Executing Hilling for Vegetables

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Hilling is accomplished in home gardens using a hoe. Several mechanical tools are also suitable for this purpose, such as the hiller. This tool can be added to a rototiller, a commonly used instrument in small gardens. You can find it at this link.
For larger areas, specialized machines known as disc hiller are used. These tools typically have multiple working parts capable of performing the operation on several rows simultaneously. For effective hilling in home gardens, it is advisable to proceed when the soil is damp but not waterlogged. Ideally, this should be done immediately after heavy rainfall. Care should be taken to avoid damaging the leaves and superficial roots of the plants. Therefore, it’s crucial to be attentive to where the hoe is placed, always maintaining safety margins.

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