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Tree roots running through new vegetable bed


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Damo
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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 6:27 pm    Post subject: Tree roots running through new vegetable bed Reply with quote

Well it's been a year since I introduced myself over on the 'intro' page, and not a post have I put up! The summer garden (small raised bed of herbs and salads) went really well, and learnt a lot from the doing. Still not sure if I'm always doing everything right (sometimes we just stick things in the ground and see!) but enjoying the gardening experience.

But the time has come when I need help. I've extended to two raised beds and just bought a aluminium/polycarbonate (I think) 6X8 greenhouse from Chadwicks (€370), which is due to be put up tomorrow. I was originally going to dig up some lawn and place it directly on the earth and started digging up sods, however I decided there was a better place where it would get some more sun, on a small stoned area by the house. I shovelled the stones out of the way leaving a few in hard earth and spent €65 on 12 large paving stones which I will put the greenhouse onto and probably drill it down as well.

So that's the background - now the questions:
I decided to use the area I dug up as a potato patch. I wasn't going to contain this bed, just add some compost, dig it together with the soil and plant. However, there are roots running through the bed, no thicker than a finger, maybe 4 or 5 of them. I'm not sure if they come from the apple tree which is 4-5 metres away or a pine which is 7-8 metres away on the other side. Both trees are decades old and as high as the house.

Can I just cut them off? Surely the apple tree doesn't depend on these few roots for its nourishment? Or, if I need to leave them, can I plant the potatoes on top of them? On the understanding that one or two spuds may run into problems. The other option is give the bed a border and build up, which I'm happy to do, I just thought I'd save time this time and try something different.

And while I'm at it, do you all think I should put some grouting between these paving slabs I'm putting under the greenhouse? There shouldn't be too many weeds but there's bound to be some, there always is right?

Thanks in anticipation!
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My Potatoes
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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would cut those roots.
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Blowin
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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with My Potatoes. Cut the roots off. For trees as well established as you say, it won't do any harm at all. They'll probably reappear though.

To me, grouting will decay pretty quickly with rising moisture and let weeds come through so I'd suggest you either put up with the odd weed or lay one of the special fabrics like Ground Control down. My only proviso would be to make sure your paving slabs have no movement in them as this will tend to wear holes in the fabric. A layer of sand cold help achieve this. Good luck!

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tagwex
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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The lads are probably right if both trees are as well established as you say. The roots are most likely from the apple as that trees root extend outwards whereas the conifer is a tap root but it too will have some lateral roots.
With regard to the slabs I would leave them open to let water away, the weed seeds in the greenhouse would/should be fairly minimal.

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Damo
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many thanks, I'll go ahead and cut the roots, and also leave the slabs without grout. I'm not worried about a few weeds and hadn't thought about the drainage issue. Today was the big day to put together the greenhouse but the weathers not damp. Building in the rain isn't fun.

Thanks again


Last edited by Damo on Sat May 24, 2014 9:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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medieval knievel
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

if you have any old roof slates, they could be buried in such a way as to prevent the roots from re-entering the bed.
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Greengage
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with all of the above.
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tippben
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to be clear, both trees will have a 360 degree spread of roots in the top foot of soil. They are the most valuable part of the root system. An anchoring, or tap root, does just that, provides anchorage. In terms of gathering nutrients or water, it is relatively useless. If you cut the roots, make clean cuts with sharp loppers or a pruning saw, don't just rip them up or hack them with a spade. That will virtually guarantee poor tree health. Even if no disease infects, the tree has to shut down the root further up to seal off the wrecked remainder. Burying root systems is also a very bad idea. Given the choice, cut them cleanly rather than trying to bury them and grow on top.
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Sneachta
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PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Me neighbour has a very large, very healthy Cherry blossom growing next door to me. Its roots and I do battle each year when I go digging, neither of us seem to sustain any long term harm!
The suggestion about the roof slates is interesting, will definitely give that a go next year. How far down should one go, I suspect the roots may eventually just find their way under unless you bury to a depth of 50cm or so?
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Blowin
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PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They're 60cm x 30cm so that would work and the roots will only go where there's nutrient to be had. While they'll do their job admirably for years, there's not much substance to them outside their use zone so I should sink them in completely as anything left exposed will get broken and look bad.

The good side is that, if you see a roofer taking an old roof off, he'll almost certainly be grateful if you take some of the slates off his hands - saves him finding somewhere to get rid of them. While you're at it, and having just had our garage done, the 2x1 battening they've been sitting on will have been baked over a number of summers and be thoroughly seasoned. Again, if you take it off his hands, you'll have all sorts of useful garden timber - and firewoood from what's left.

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My Potatoes
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PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blowin wrote:
The good side is that, if you see a roofer taking an old roof off, he'll almost certainly be grateful if you take some of the slates off his hands - saves him finding somewhere to get rid of them.

Apart from those old traditional slates, or those made from natural slate. They're selling for about €1 per slate on DoneDeal.
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Damo
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PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2014 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the advice, especially about not using a spade to cut the roots. As I had started to do. I went back out the shears, which, while not pruners, performed a fairly clean cut.

Greenhouse still being built... Confused
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Damo
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:48 am    Post subject: This time it's a raised bed! Reply with quote

Folks, this time I'm digging a new bed that's going to be raised. It should have 2-3 inches of soil above 'ground level'. The large finger width roots are about two feet under ground level. It's about 3 to 4 metres away from the trunk of the tree.

Instinct tells me I could just go over this root. It's a vegetable raised bed, and will be rotating.

Thoughts?

p.s. Here's the finished slabs and greenhouse!



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tippben
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep Damo, just leave things be. If it's that far away, and only going to affect a small portion of the root system, go for it, and let the tree decide whether to shut down those roots, or whether conditions are still ok. As before, if you do end up needing to (or accidentally) damage those roots, leave the cleanest cut you can. I would also be tempted to incorporate some water retention granules into the raised part of the bed, as if the tree likes it, it may rob a lot of moisture, right in the area where your vegetable roots will be.
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Edlyn12
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ya cutting the roots wouldn't do any harm but they will grow back.Border the vegetable bed with slates like others said or just place large tiles around the bed where the roots are growing.
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