Ask a Question forum: raised garden bed

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Sep 9, 2016 6:22 PM CST
Hi there!
This year my daughter and I built a simple raised bed, hoping to avoid hair roots of a maple tree from the their house over, to stop interfering in my small
vegetable garden. All seemed well until today. I was cleaning up after pulling out some plants I decided to dig. In some places it was difficult to push the spade into the ground because the fine roots of the maple were back! the crop was good, because I had filled the bed with triple mix, but I am disappointed about the roots. the raised bed is twelve inches above the ground and was 3/4 full. HELP! What do I do now?

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Sep 9, 2016 7:37 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @jasu !

I have problems with tree roots in my garden as well (I don't have raised beds, just a "regular" garden). Our yard is completely surrounded by trees, and it is quite amazing how far their roots will travel, and how they will take advantage of some cultivated earth. I just keep digging them out and removing them... I hope someone else here will have a better solution for you!

If all else fails, and the roots are too troublesome, you could consider growing your plants in containers rather than in the raised bed.
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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Sep 9, 2016 8:48 PM CST
I'm in the same boat with you, jasu. I have a beautiful raised bed 18in. deep that I grew veggies in for a year or two before the roots of the oak trees invaded it. I've been fighting them off (digging them out, that is) ever since. That oak is at least 30ft. away but it is huge so I should have expected it I guess.

The fact is, you water and fertilize your veggie bed generously, and the tree roots will come no matter what you do when they get a taste of those "goodies". Even if you dug a deep trench all around your raised bed and poured concrete in it as a barrier those roots would find their way under it, then up into the bed. All you can do is either cut the tree, or move the bed much further away from it.

I have a big sifter - 2 x 4 frame with hardware cloth stapled in it - and a sharpened shovel. Every fall before I start planting (winter is my growing season here) I sift half the bed. The next fall, I sift the other half. I take away a good big wheelbarrow load of oak tree feeder roots each time.

OR try using Earth Boxes. I have several of them, standing up on cinder blocks so no roots can invade. They have been very productive and my kids give me a new one every Christmas for the last few years, after they saw me laboriously sifting soil in my raised bed. It's a great system, the boxes are made of recycled plastic and with the fitted plastic covers on over the soil they are extremely water efficient and don't grow any weeds, too.
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