I know, that was a pretty bad pun, but a wonderful way to start off the blogging season!
The first (sort of, i’ve been doing lots of other gardening chores already) order of business was to dig up the strawberry bed. There is an elm tree about 10 feet from two of the back yard’s raised beds which have infiltrated the vegetable beds. I knew that this would be an issue, but i didn’t expect it to happen so quickly (in two years!).
As you can see to the left, the elm has thoroughly enjoyed my efforts to improve the soil in my yard: i first suspected this when last year’s tomatoes barely grew only 4 feet and produced a quarter of what they did the season before.
Luckily, strawberries have compact, fibrous root systems, as you can see on the right, making them perfect candidates for life in a container. One by one, i dug under each strawberry crown and pulled it free from the tangle of tree roots. I mixed some light potting soil with the raised bed soil to try to get the best of both types: the well drained potting soil with the high organic content of the raised beds.
I toyed with the idea of putting in a full-on tree root barrier: digging a 3′ deep trench and installing a rigid plastic sheet to prevent the roots from spreading. The problem with this approach is that i would seriously stress the well established 30′ tall tree. I had visions of the tree falling in the next big storm due to the weakened root system. Since i want to keep the tree for shading the house, i’ll switch the two closest beds to above ground containers- tomatoes and strawberries. I’ll have to water quite a bit more, but i might actually be able to grown more veggies in the same space, since i won’t have to worry about the vegetable roots competing for the limited space of a raised bed. I’ll keep you posted…