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  • Raised Garden Stays Wet (Poor Drainage)

    Created by Nancy Wynes on

    I started a corner raised bed garden under our backyard Maple tree. I’ve redone the planting mix twice, as it never dries out because it gets no sunshine (total shade). Now the plants are failing again, even with a 1/2 bag of Vermiculite and sand added to dirt.
    What else can I do to keep the plants from dying?

  • Author
  • #208018

    Eric Vinje

    Hi Nancy –

    What sort of draining system do you have in the bottom of your raised bed? If there is a plastic sheeting, I would recommend adding holes to prevent water from collecting in the bottom of the bed. There are a couple more things you can do to help your garden proliferate.

    First, I would consider trimming back the undercarriage of the maple tree to encourage sunlight to reach the garden bed. This might be the single most important thing you can do to help your garden.

    Second, it would be ideal to plant only shade loving veggies and herbs in your bed. Unfortunately, this means staying away from some garden treats such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and melons. Stick to vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, beets, lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, kale, garlic, beans and peas. All of these will tolerate shade well. Herbs that will do well in shade include mint, thyme, chives, oregano and curly leaf parsley. These veggies and herbs need about 4 hours of direct sunlight per day in order to flourish.

    If all else fails, it would be possible to turn the bed into a raised flower garden. Plants such as lily of the valley (conuallaria Matalis) actually prefer full shade and moist soil. A couple other ornamental plants that would do well in moist, shady conditions include ferns, sweet woodruff (gallium Odoratum) and hosta hybrids.

    Good Luck!

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