Posted on: 27 February 2017
Growing vegetables in the presence of trees can prove to be a difficult endeavour. At first, your vegetable patch may thrive for a season or two. However, if there are trees in the vicinity, especially those with aggressive root systems, they may soon find their way into your vegetable patch. When that happens, your once flourishing plants will be forced to compete for nourishment and inevitably lose as the hardier and more voracious tree roots drain all the goodness from the surrounding areas.
If your vegetable patch is suffering as a result of invading tree roots, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that your vegetable patch puts plenty of vegetables on your dinner table next harvesting season.
Move Your Vegetable Patch
If removing the tree is not something you want to consider, then you might have to start over and plant your veggies somewhere else. When choosing another location for your vegetable patch, remember that tree root systems often reach twice as far as their canopies. Therefore, if the offending tree has a canopy of 20 feet, plant your vegetables at least 40 feet from the trunk of the tree.
Install a Vertical Root Barrier
Dig a trench around 2-3 feet deep around your vegetable patch once you have removed any invading roots, and place metal or plastic barriers. Once you filled the trenches in, they should force tree roots in the vicinity downwards or sideways and keep them out of your vegetable patch.
Plant Your Vegetables in Containers
If space is limited, you can plant your vegetables in containers. This will keep them safe from tree roots and ensure that they continue to yield a bountiful harvest. Most vegetables and fruits can be grown in containers, from tomatoes and potatoes to bigger vegetables like cabbage or lettuce. However, larger plants such as pumpkins, asparagus and rhubarb generally require a lot of space and won't fare well in containers.
Sacrifice Your Tree for the Sake of Your Vegetables
In small gardens, trees and vegetables will always end up competing for space, water and nutrients. Invariably, your veggies will lose out. In this case, you should consider removing the tree. Otherwise, no matter how many times you cut back a tree's marauding feeder roots, they will return and you'll be back to square one.
Calling on the expert advice of a professional arborist or tree removal specialist is another option. After a careful examination of your garden, they will be able to offer some suggestions as to how you might plant your garden. If you do decide to remove the tree, consider having the stump ground down too to clear even more space for your vegetable patch.Share