If you're thinking about building raised beds for your vegetable garden, definitely go for it. Plants do better in deep soil and as long as you don't walk in the beds, you'll also avoid soil compaction. Now what root wouldn't want to grow in nice loose, deep soil? If I was a root, I'd tell all my root friends, "Hey come on guys, nice deep, loose soil over here, let's go!"
But this weekend, I had my first bad experience with raised beds. You see there was a root invasion from trees that were pretty far away. The closest trees to my vegetable garden are at least 30 feet away but I guess that's just a short hop for tree roots. It's almost as if one of these roots said to all his buddies, "Hey come on guys, nice deep, loose soil over here, let's go!"
So on Sunday, I was planning on planting some more salad greens but wound up spending the afternoon digging and pulling roots out of my beds. I always wondered why Mel Bartholomew in the book Square Foot Gardening advised to build a bottom to raised beds. At the time, I was like, why build a bottom, what is this guy crazy? I want earth worms to tunnel up from underneath my garden beds and munch on all that compost that I loaded in there. More like Square Foot Craziness, no bottoms on my raised beds.
Well, I was wrong about that. After pulling a few giant piles worth of roots out yesterday, I made an executive decision. Whenever I build a new bed, a bottom will be a mandatory feature. I don't think I'll use a sheet of plywood for the floor as suggested in the book, but at a minimum, I'll load the bottom up with landscape fabric. Usually, I'd layer newspapers to stop weeds and because I know they'll break down and feed those earthworms that I was talking about. But since I want to avoid future root invasions, I think I'll pass on the newspapers. Do they make landscape fabric out of steel?
Mr. Bartholomew, sir, I'm sorry about the Square Foot Craziness remark. You were right and I should have listened. It won't happen again.