Why butter potatoes peas and other vegetables?

Hilling the vegetables consists of piling up garden soil at the foot of the plants. It’s a technique as old as Herod, which all gardeners practice. Hilling concerns, for example, potatoes, peas, asparagus, fennel and other leeks… But what is the point of hilling your vegetables? Are there really benefits? Let’s try to answer the many questions posed by beginner gardeners who sometimes hesitate to mound the vegetables in their vegetable patch.

Butter the vegetables: how to do it?

To mound vegetables, you don’t need to be an experienced gardener since you just need to bring a little garden soil around the foot of each plant or on the whole bed so as to create a small mound.

We use according to our preferences or what we have on hand, a hoe, a hoe, a swagger or even a rake (used upside down), and we take care not to damage the roots of the plants. Hilling particularly tight rows requires the use of another manual tool, namely the ridger. It is thus much easier to bring back the earth without damage, by exerting a simple traction because the ridger has two blades forming an angle.

Hilling vegetables from the vegetable garden: the advantages

Hilling vegetables is one of the gardening jobs that many enthusiasts would not skip under any circumstances because it has the following advantages:

  • loosen the earth,
  • Allows the surface earth to warm up and stay warm,
  • Protects the root system against winter cold or late frosts,
  • Promotes the development of the consumable part,
  • Allows the ground to retain a little freshness,
  • Limits the risk of stagnant humidity by promoting the flow of rainwater and watering, which is particularly important for vegetables grown in heavy soil,
  • Prevents the floor from becoming too sticky,
  • Slows down the development of weeds,
  • Limits the attack of pests capable of creating great damage in root vegetables,
  • Retains part of the water since by hilling, we form channels,
  • Makes the twigs more resistant under the weight of vegetables or fruit vegetables but also against strong winds,
  • Forces vegetable plants to grow vertically,
  • Increases yields,
  • Improves the taste quality of certain vegetables to be blanched by depriving them of light, which is the case for example with asparagus,
  • Prevents the natural process of manufacturing toxic alkaloids by depriving the underground part of certain species of light.

Hilling can therefore be carried out for different purposes depending on the vegetables grown.


We mound our vegetables so that they blanch. Hilling should be carried out several times in the season, as the plants grow so that the consumable part is always in the dark. Ridging makes it possible to blanch:

  • The leek : mound three times at least, namely 20 days after planting then two more times at two-week intervals.
  • The ribbed celery : for it to remain white, two mounds are necessary.
  • L’asparagus : hilling should be done as frequently as possible so that only the tip of the asparagus can see the day, everything else should always remain in the dark.
  • The fennel : it must be mounded as soon as it reaches the size of an egg and then regularly until harvest.

These vegetables must grow protected from daylight so that the process of photosynthesis is blocked. In this way, there is no chlorophyll productionso that the buried part remains white.

Avoid standing water

Some vegetables can’t stand standing water. However, this is not always easy to avoid when growing in an area where it rains a lot and often. Water stagnation is also common in clay soil.

Hilling is an ideal solution since the earth mound thus created represents a real protection for the plants. Thanks to the small mound thus created, we avoid stagnant water but we also allow the ground on the surface to warm up, which is essential for sensitive species such as:

Protect root vegetables from pests

Some gardeners have gotten into the habit of generously mounding their rows of carrots a good 15 centimeters in height in order to completely cover the young foliage. Thus, the carrot fly no longer has the possibility of depositing its eggs at the level of the collar since it finds itself under the mound.

Protect against the wind and promote rooting

So that some plants are less vulnerable in the event of wind and at the same time take root well, it is necessary to mound them. This is among others the case of the following species:

  • The peas : a single ridge is sufficient if care is taken to bring the soil down to the first two or three leaves.
  • The green beans : they must be mounded first of all when they measure a dozen centimeters in height and then again a few weeks later if necessary.
  • The beans : the earthing up must make it possible to create a protective mound 10 to 12 cm high, favoring the anchoring of the roots to the ground.
  • The tomatoes : Bringing soil up to the collar is essential to strengthen the vigor of tomato plants by encouraging the formation of additional roots.

Hilling is done quickly and requires no effort. So there is no excuse for neglecting it.

Prevent the potato from becoming toxic

Many species must grow in the dark so that the edible part is tender and white. The potato must also benefit from ridging in order to be protected from light, but for a health reason. Indeed, hilling the potatoes from the garden is essential for preserve the health of the whole family.

In this way, the tubers are always in the dark and this is fundamental to be able to consume perfectly healthy potatoes. Let’s not forget that they produce solanine as soon as they are exposed to the slightest light intensity. Now, this alkaloid is a substance toxic. Its presence is detected at tuber greening.

All potato that has turned green must therefore be discarded because it is unfit for human consumption. A intoxication solanine can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting and high doses of fever, jaundice, cardiac arrhythmia, neurological manifestations, cerebral edema and even, in extreme cases, death, which is fortunately extremely rare in Man. Solanine is also dangerous for animals.

By listening to gardeners who have practiced their art for several years and therefore have extensive experience in vegetable gardening, we realize how much it is important to mound a good number of vegetables. However, not everyone shares the same opinion about garlic. This subject divides! Some say that it is essential to form a mound of earth about ten centimeters high before planting the cloves, then to mound the garlic again when the foliage begins to develop, but only if the bulb comes out of the ground. The others certify that if the garlic bulb is completely buried, it rots.

It’s up to everyone to make up their own mind by testing, why not, these two versions. Gardening experience is not acquired in a day but by dint ofobservations day-to-day, and we have to admit that we learn a lot from our mistakes.

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