Raised beds and capillary action

Rodger Whitlock totototo@pacificcoast.net
Fri, 09 Jul 2004 13:15:49 PDT
On  5 Jul 04 at 17:54, Jim McKenney wrote:

> For several years I've been experimenting with raised beds for
> growing summer dormant plants here in Maryland...

> In late May and early June sections of this bed were covered with
> panes of glass... The surface of the bed looks dry and even
> crusty... when I dug down an inch or two, it became apparent that
> there is plenty of moisture still in the soil. In fact, I checked a
> small sample of tulips and frits in this bed and found that some had
> already rotted in the hot, damp soil. Bummer!
> Obviously I need to change something. I'm assuming that capillary
> action is causing water to wick up into the bed. I'm thinking about
> putting in some sort of vapor barrier at the base of the bed,
> between the medium in the bed and the ground soil.
> Does anyone have suggestions about this? 

E B Anderson, the famous English rock gardener and bulb specialist,
grew his summer dormant bulbs among (or near) the roots of deciduous
trees. As the trees leafed out in late spring and the roots became
active, they would suck the soil around them bone dry.

Moral: put your raised beds within root-reach of deciduous trees.

Of course, you're in a much hotter, steamier summer climate than 
anything England has to offer, so this method may not work quite so 
well -- but it's worth consideration.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
"To co-work is human,
to cow-ork, bovine."

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