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do the roots grow into the ground? Empty do the roots grow into the ground?

Post  Feistywidget on 11/11/2011, 6:52 pm

According to Mel in the book, the depth of regular 4 x 4 boxes (without making any modifications) is 6".

However he also says that they're placed on the ground, and there is no bottom to them; you can add a bottom, but it's optional, not necessary.

Since you place the boxes on the ground, and they have no bottom, then do the roots of whatever is being grown in the boxes grow into the soil on the ground that the boxes are placed on?

Basically do the roots grow into the soil of Mel's Mix, but also beyond Mel's Mix into the ground that the box is placed on.
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Post  RoOsTeR on 11/11/2011, 6:58 pm

I don't have the book here with me, but if I am not mistaken the book says a wooden bottom is optional. Mel still suggests using heavy duty weed barrier. That would keep most roots from penetrating.

Please correct me if I'm wrong... :scratch:

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Post  littlejo on 11/11/2011, 10:34 pm

Just my 2 cents: I believe the weed cloth is to keep the weeds in the ground from going for the nutrients in the MM, and to keep the weeds out of the garden.
The veggies will pretty much stay in the dirt given.
Some root crops, some carrots, potatos,grow long or require more dirt, which is when a taller box is put on top.
Vegetable roots will only grow as long as the plant DNA says. The roots will not grow into the next county, just because they can.
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Post  Glendale-gardener on 11/11/2011, 11:58 pm

I put weed cloth under all my boxes and for the most part, the plants stayed within their box and didn't go past the weed cloth. Apparently, some plants are a little more determined than others though. Quite a few of my sweet potatoes ended up with very voluptuous figures because they took advantage of tiny holes in the weed cloth to venture beyond into the "dirt" (ew) I actually had to tear the weed cloth to harvest them because they had tiny "waists" where the hole was but they were huge above and below, it was kind of hilarious. All of my other plants stayed within their box though.
I would assume that if you put your boxes down without a bottom and no weed cloth that yes, your roots would probably venture past the box into the dirt, dependent upon your soil type, meaning that roots would stray a little less in heavy clay soils. Probably not that big a deal.
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Post  southern gardener on 11/12/2011, 12:31 am

Glendale--I'd like to have seen those potatoes! LOL!! lol! rofl
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Post  llama momma on 11/12/2011, 5:21 am

The book says the box only needs to be six inches. You are giving the plants such a rich compost of nutrition that the roots are satisfied and don't need to travel for their food. Having said that, some plants will grow longer long roots anyway. Someone on the forum shared their experience of a carrot that reached the bottom of the box then grew horizontally into an "L". Another person shared that certain roots travelled around the box. Personally I started out with a 12 inch deep box because I had a hard time believing in the method. My second box was 8 inches and the newest is 6 inches. So you see, the more I learned and experienced, the boxes became shorter! My first 12 inch deep box was 4x8 feet, this means I could have had 2 boxes of 4x8's had I believed in the 6 in depth from the start!
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Post  llama momma on 11/12/2011, 5:27 am

I put hardware cloth (wire with 1/4 inch squares) on the bottom of the boxes to keep out burrowing critters from below. And beneath that is a couple layers of cardboard to smother weeds in the soil. It has been a year since making the first box and so far so good.
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Post  fiddleman on 11/12/2011, 7:12 am

Yes, the roots will grow through the mels mix into the ground, BUT they will go almost anywhere there is space searching for nutrition or water. If they don't find a new source they won't send rootlets very deep and thus you won't get many major roots finding there way into regular soil - Mel's mix supplies everything they're looking for.

I had my tomatoes send 6 foot roots (no exaggeration) across my SF garden hit the side and make a left. There were more healthy roots on my plants than ever because they wanted to stay in the Mel's mix where all the good nutrition and water is. That said, roots are always looking for the best conditions and will search somewhat even if they are finding everything they currently need where they are.

The neat thing is Mel's mix at the depth he recommends is more than enough to support the plants for nutrition and water. No need to make it any deeper unless you're going for root crops such as carrots and potatoes.

Mark
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Post  Chopper on 11/14/2011, 12:32 am

Mine are on the ground and I did not find any roots outside of the Mels Mix. They like it. Theoretically, they could grow into the ground but none of mine did.
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