I’m being invaded…

…by roots!

We returned to Portugal in Mid October and the weather was hot and dry; a balmy Indian Summer. My raised vegetable bed which had been left to run wild in my absence was full of weeds and in dire need of some tender loving care. I’d never grown winter vegetables before so I was keen to experiment and plant a selection – anything and everything from carrots and spinach to cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower to name a few. Well that was the plan until I started digging and weeding to prepare the soil…

My vegetable garden was full of roots!
My vegetable garden was full of roots!

It was then I discovered to my horror the roots from nearby mimosa trees and the melaleuca hedge had invaded my raised vegetable bed. Please don’t ask me why, but it never occurred to me roots grew skywards as well as downwards so I never took preventative action by laying a root barrier membrane at the bottom of the bed. Big mistake!

Did you realise roots grew upwards? Probably. It’s just me that’s a complete muppet!

Have you ever noticed we are wiser in hindsight?

How many times do we say “If only”?

Well, “if only” I had engaged my brain I would not have to remove all the soil to lay a membrane!

Fortunately, when we built the raised bed we divided it in two with some building blocks. Although a temporary measure at the time, to ease the strain of filling such a large area with soil in one go, it did mean I could easily move the soil from one side to another in order to lay the membrane.

As you can imagine, moving thousands of shovelfuls of soil took weeks. It was back-breaking work, but I’m very pleased to say Mr. Piglet (after a good moan) did take pity on me and moved the lions share. However, as he dug, he did his utmost to convince me I was wasting my time and energy.

Nearly there!
Nearly there!

Digging keeps you fit!

Well, there was only one thing for it, all the earth would need to be removed from the bed so I could lay a root barrier at the bottom of each bed to stop (hopefully) further problems with roots…

Mr. Piglet kept reminding me (as he dug and I supervised) that my vegetable growing “failures” to date far outweighed my successes. Was it really worth the effort? However, he finally accepted my continued optimism and acknowledged the joy I experienced when something did grow.

Root Barrier
Root Barrier

Finally, we completed the task and I went to a local market to buy some seedlings.

I cheated and went to the local market and bought seedlings.
I cheated and went to the local market and bought seedlings.

….and the moral of this story is?

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49 thoughts on “I’m being invaded…

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  1. PIP, the large roots go into the ground to hold up the tree/bush etc the tracer roots go out near the surface in hunt of water etc.
    Did you make holes in the root barrier in-case it gets water logged. I always buy seedlings because half the seeds don’t grow.

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    1. Hi DP,

      I was tempted to use thick industrial plastic, but with no holes in case the roots came through. However, a friend pointed out the water would not drain away and the veg patch would become waterlogged so another senior blonde moment. I then remembered the special membrane we used under the Brita (gravel) It allows water to drain away and stops roots. It has proved most effective so, although more expensive, I plumped for that.

      Apart form some red cabbage I always grow my own plants from seeds. I won’t any longer, seedlings are by far the easiest option and have saved me at least a month.

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  2. Nothing is done so badly that it can’t be rectified, even if that DOES mean extra work. Alternatively, the moral could be stop and think before you act and save all that rectification work.

    Take your pick!

    Great work!

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    1. Hi TO.
      I nearly made another mistake with the type of plastic I used…lucky for me my firends brain was engaged!
      Sometimes I can ponder for ages and at others I can jump in with both feet! A bit like the lottery as to the outcome

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  3. There is always sometime in nature that throws a spanner in the works. I tidied up my raised bed last week and found ivy growing in there. It’s metres away from the ivy that grows around the garden but the roots seem to get everywhere. Well done for finding a way around the problem.

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  4. Yep, I agree, I’ve discovered that in gardening (& life) ‘Hindsight is 20/20’ 😉
    With a garden, moving the soil around like you did and clearing it of roots and things, may be a major boon to it’s success. I admire the work you and Mr P put into to moving that much soil. Well done. Your seedlings look happy. I hope they flourish and produce lots of yummy foodies for you. Happy gardening! 🙂

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  5. Life is like a series of roller coasters, each adventures has it’s own set of ups and downs, and you never know what is coming around the next bend. But in the end, you’ve conquered it and are a little more prepared for the next adventure. 🙂

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  6. Persistance is a beautiful thing. So glad you have someone there with a strong back willing to “back” you up, despite his doubts! You and he will reap the rewards. You keep me smiling. And, I do identify with the frustrations!

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  7. PIP, have you tried adding chicken manure to your garden soil…when done in the right amount it will make great improvements in your veggies growth…although overdone will burn up the plants. It is the secret to my husbands garden!

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    1. Hi Jeanne,
      what a good idea! I know someone with chickens I wonder if they will part with some! When do you apply it? I’ve already planted up my little plot for the winter – can I water the chicken manure down and apply in liquid form?

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