A lesson learned…

… is a lesson earned. An older post of mine showed two newly made raised garden beds that I hurriedly assembled and filled in time for spring planting. During spring, everything we planted in them seemed to grow exceptionally well. We made many spinach harvests and our garlic fattened up as well. This spot is ideal, receiving well over 6 hours of afternoon sun every summer day.

So it was surprising to us that our summer crop was such a huge embarrassment. We planted a whole patch of water spinach – or kangkung (Ipomoea aquatica) – in both beds, mainly because we love the vegetable so much. The problem was that unlike the previous years’ harvest, these plants did no grow past about 15 centimetres high, with narrow, yellowing leaves that drooped at the first peek of direct sun. And these plants love direct, hot sun. The hotter, the better – as long as they are well watered, which we did as well. That’s why it was so puzzling to us why they did not grow.

It wasn’t until yesterday when I went to pull all the dead plants out and replenish the soil that I realised why they weren’t growing.


When I made my first turn of soil with the pitchfork it immediately dawned on me. I placed these raised garden beds under our Golden Ash Tree (Fraxinus excelsior ‘Aurea’) and all the way throughout summer, the horizontal, fibrous roots had made it’s way into our moist, fertile beds and literally sucked the life out of it all. Both beds are riddled with roots.

At the time of assembling the beds, the idea to put in a root barrier did cross my mind – but it crossed my mind so fast I didn’t even remember it visiting. So if you are planning on putting in a raised garden bed under a big old tree, do take the effort to protect it from roots. Lucky for this tree, the council won’t let us cut it down.

Just kidding – I would never cut it down. It has provided us with a nice view and a free supply of yearly leaf mould. Can’t complain about that right?

So yes, I will be earning this lesson because now I have to remove the soil, filter out the roots, put a new membrane in and replace the soil. All because I neglected to protect the boxes with a root barrier in the first place. At least I won’t make the same mistake again – haha!

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