Raised bed questions, growth, spacing, etc

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Raised bed questions, growth, spacing, etc

Post  Steven on Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:21 am

My wife and I will be moving in sept. to a home with a massive backyard and I have decided to put in some raised beds for my grow out trees rather than replant directly in the ground as I have had to do at my current location.

With that said I am wondering about the size and depth of the beds I should build for my trees? I currently have about 24 trees that I have been developing the roots in squat pots for about 2 years now and feel they are ready to get some trunk thickening done, as well as some trees that have or were previously in the ground at my present location that could use another year or two in the ground. I guess my main questions would be....

1. Would it make sense to create partitions between trees, basically building a planting grid into the design to help from having mingled and tangled roots, or would this limit my growth potential by basically just creating a large box/pot ?

2. I have done raised bed gardening for years but never for my trees, I am good on drainage and soil, but what would be a more desirable depth for growing trees in this fashion or does it matter?

3. I guess if there are any tips or advice anyone has on growing in the beds rather than directly into level ground I am open to suggestions, thanks in advance.

Steven

Steven
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Re: Raised bed questions, growth, spacing, etc

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:18 am

Steven,

if you placed the trees, in your raised beds, as though they were at viewing height, you could sit and train them.

If you are after larger trunks and branches in proportion, be prepared to lose all of the finer branchlets.

It may also help you to first place the trees in plastic colanders [ rice strainers ].
Best of growing.
Khaimraj

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Re: Raised bed questions, growth, spacing, etc

Post  Poink88 on Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:58 pm

Gongrats on your new place and good luck with the move!

If I will do one for myself, the distances will be dictated my the size and shape of the tree. The root zone will be less of the factor.

I will make sure to put a plastic sheeting (tile will be too small) under the tree extending past the future rootball size. It will help make the nebari nicer and make the re-collection much easier...just run a saw all around and the tree can be pulled out!

My ideal will be the drum like blue plastic containers (or just the largest plastic nursery pots you can find), open the both top and bottom. Plant the tree on top of plastic sheeting with space all around so the roots can go down and out at the bottom to the ground. This is a lot less work and roots will be easy to cut later.

Just my ideas.

Poink88
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Re: Raised bed questions, growth, spacing, etc

Post  drgonzo on Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:16 pm

I currently have an 10x8 raised bed thats 8 inches high (deep) its filled with 50/50 mushroom compost and sandy topsoil, the Mushroom compost was placed in last year and allowed to cool down and leach residual salt over winter then I was able to plant this spring without worry of burn.

I filled it to the brim with all sorts of material. Elm, Beech, Willow, Hornbeam..etc. Many were transplanted into this bed from the ground where they had been growing for 2 years and in this year alone I think they have put on more weight in my raised bed than in either of the two previous years in the ground. I love my raised beds. I don't worry too much about spacing, its pretty crowded but all are doing well. The way I look at it is this is for root training (nebari) and whatever mass the tree puts on is a secondary benefit.

Many trees were strapped to pieces of thick (3/4") plywood to help spread the roots and increase trunk flare and it has worked well, I cheated and scratched down a bit to check out an Elm the other night and it looked real good down below! I like plywood as I can cut it to whatever size I want to fit the root flare and I can drill through it to attach anchor string (I actually use twine) to help hold the tree ON the plywood. The roots run all over into other trees (they do this in nature too of course) nobody seems to care...they all thrive.

Only thing? Gotta keep it all watered. Watered, watered, watered...

Definitely an awesome way to grow out trees. I only wish I could devote another one to more trees!
-Jay

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Re: Raised bed questions, growth, spacing, etc

Post  Steven on Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:23 am

Thanks everyone, very excited to finally have some more room to get some of my trees in the ground, this will also give me the space to build some new benches for the rest of my trees in progress. With any luck I will start building in sept. so hopefully I will have some pics to share, I will most likely build a tunnel over the beds and burry my trees in pots for the winter making it a make shift coldframe. Either way it should keep me busy for a while, thanks again.

Steven
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Re: Raised bed questions, growth, spacing, etc

Post  David D on Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:49 am

Dr Gonzo,
Like your method for raised beds. How thick is the ply and how many yrs to you let them grow before moving checking etc? Do you just leave them until you get the growth and trunk diameter you are looking for. I have written down your idea for one of my next projects.

David D
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Re: Raised bed questions, growth, spacing, etc

Post  drgonzo on Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:17 am

David D wrote:Dr Gonzo,
Like your method for raised beds. How thick is the ply and how many yrs to you let them grow before moving checking etc? Do you just leave them until you get the growth and trunk diameter you are looking for. I have written down your idea for one of my next projects.

I just started doing the plywood root training this year. I used twine to tie the roots to the board so that if I need to leave them in the ground the twine will rot out and not girdle the roots. Even above ground twine only lasts me a couple years.

Drilling holes right through the 3/4 inch ply allows me to tie down roots right to the board with a hole on either side of the particular root, then just loop your twine up, over, down through the other hole and tie it off..I was able to cut smaller (6"x6") boards for some saplings and bigger say (10"x10") for the big elms...Seems a bit easier to work with then tile. I do it with ficus too but I use a rubber band to hold them to the board, it does flare the bases out nicely.

I need to do a lot of transplanting next spring and re-arranging in the bed so I intend to take a look at all of the trees at that time and see if I need to work any roots. Ideally you want to trim back very vigorous roots that are flying off the board and leave less vigorous roots to grow out and thicken, balancing the vigor as it were..

Plus I'm just too curious to see how well it worked!!

And I hope you're feeling a bit better David!
-Jay

drgonzo
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Re: Raised bed questions, growth, spacing, etc

Post  David D on Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:26 am

Thanks Jay I am feeling better every day but still have 5 weeks of no driving and restricted lifting. I always appreciate your comments and learn much from you and other members of the forum.

David D
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