Edible Landscaping Under Trees: A Cautionary Tale

overwatered tree damage edible landscaping suburban stone ageI’m learning a painful lesson right now about edible landscaping. This picture is of a patch of dead leaves that has been steadily growing on my Chinese pistache. Underneath this tree are several tomato vines, pumpkins, basil, lettuce, and melons.

In my eagerness to try out some edibles in the former lawn under the tree, I recently transplanted some vegetable seedlings. Why not try to maximize the space with food, right?  Trouble is, baby plants in the summer need a lot of water to get off to a good start while they establish their roots. And there is a pretty thick bed of mulch under that tree that has smothered the lawn and keeps the moisture in. Therein lies the mistake.

While trying to meet the needs of the seedlings, I think I’ve damaged the roots of the tree by overwatering. I believe the combination of more water than usual plus the insulating mulch has stifled the trees roots.

A course correction in in order. I’m going to rake away some mulch and stop the extra watering immediately. It’s hot right now, and the soil should dry within a few days, allowing it to breath. If the seedlings perish – too bad, so sorry. The tree take precedence here.

In the long run, I’m going to stop planting annual vegetablee under that tree. In their place I’ll put some edible perennial shrubs. I’ll still get the edible landscaping I desire without having to cater to different plants at different life stages. The shrubs and the tree can mature together, and they can all enjoy a consistent watering schedule.

The annuals are still important, but I’ll have to some up with a different strategy for them, either a dedicated bed or something else. I’ll figure something out. When I have a solution, I’ll certainly share.

I hope my mistakes will save you some time and damage to your trees!  Feel free to share this article if you think it will be helpful to fellow  gardeners.  [sharexy] Thank you!

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