Raised beds and capillary action

G. D. M. doji@interpac.net
Tue, 06 Jul 2004 22:30:27 PDT
It can be a tricky proposition to rely on deciduous trees to remove excess water.  Just because a plant looks dormant, it's roots are not necessarily not growing.  A worst case scenario would be planting a willow anywhere in the vicinity of a septic system or a leaking pipe/drip system.  In Jim's part of the country as well as many others Acer palmatum or other small statured Acers should do well.  

I have a raised bed made of corrugated steel sheets that measures 4' wide, 3 1/2' deep and 20' in length in which I grow vegetables.  It took a year to fill as it started as a compost pile, and additional material was added as soon as available.It is constructed with a solid sheet of the same material as a bottom, unattached.  Drainage is excellent, but I noticed that growth had all but stopped no matter what kind of vegetables I planted.  Digging around the outside perimeter I found that the ideal conditions in the raised bed had encouraged roots to encroach from a tree 30' away.  They had entered at the junction of the walls and the bottom.  Having been cut off a couple of feet away from the bed and a trench 1 1/2' wide and a 1' deep filled with sand for easy checking of encroachment,  I think I can control them in the future.  Practicing the French intensive method of vegetable gardening, I will have to wait for the severed roots to rot in place.  The fine feeder roots have become a solid mat in the planter, to hard to dig out.  I punched as many holes as possible ( I got tired), and added 5 pounds of earthworms.  Let them do the hard work.

Gary in Hilo, HI

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