Allan asks about how thorny berries and potatoes would fit into a Grocery Row Garden :
I enjoyed watching @davidthegood. A couple questions – I’m worried about planting potatoes as you need to dig out of the ground, and would disturb the roots, especially the trees, the other question is about the berries, being that the rows are so close, the thorns would be quite annoying to go past? I would love to hear your thoughts on these and from others as well.
Back in 2014, I wrote a post about sweet potatoes, in which I stated:
“The first way I grew them as a kid, long, long ago, was in my neighbor’s flower box when she was out of town. They took over and smothered the petunias.
It was awesome.
Later, I’ve grown them here and there in raised beds and in deep mulch gardens and even in my blueberry patch.
I don’t recommend doing that anymore, since my blueberries grew really slowly thanks to the root competition.”
Both sweet potatoes and white potatoes do require digging to harvest, which is going to cause some root disruption.
Blueberries are particularly unhappy when you mess with their roots, as some other trees must be.
But some trees haven’t seemed to mind when we grew huge yams right next to them (and then spent hours digging them out):
As for the Grocery Row Gardens, growing potatoes around trees may be a problem long-term. However, our potato growing in the rows has only been done during the first year, when the tree root systems are still small. They’re barely effected, if at all, since the potatoes aren’t being planted right next to their tiny root system.
Unfortunately, our dataset is slim on long-term potato growing in Grocery Rows. And by that, I mean non-existent.
The first prototype Grocery Row Garden beds we built long ago in North Florida were filled solely with perennials.
The second set of Grocery Row Gardens we built in Grenada, where we really expanded on the idea of using food forest verticality in a controlled linear system, were not in a climate amenable to growing potatoes. We did grow sweet potatoes around some trees, but there wasn’t enough time to observe results before the pandemic swept away our tropical homesteading dreams.
Then, our next beds – this time in Lower Alabama – only gave us two potato-growing seasons before we found our new homestead.
Not enough for long-term testing with potatoes and fruit trees.
However, I have a hunch that growing potatoes around the trees may actually reduce their vigor a bit in a positive way, by helping to keep the trees smaller, which is necessary to maintain a Grocery Row Garden long-term. I also think that some limited root disturbance may even make the trees more resilient and give them tougher root systems, as pruned roots may branch out more and spread.
But, if you’re worried, just plant your potatoes somewhere in the 12′ gap between fruit trees, and not too near them.
As for thorny berries, yes, they could be annoying. Our Mysore raspberries are really nasty to grow in the rows. Though we grow a few anyways, here and there. It’s probably best to avoid growing them on both sides of a path or you’ll have to pass through the gardens in a full suit of armor.
The main berries we’ve grown in the Grocery Rows are thornless blackberries, blueberries and the somewhat thorny Heritage raspberry. If you do plant thorny types, you might want to put some strings or a short piece of fence or trellis you can use to keep them from destroying your pleasant garden paths (and your clothing) as you pass by.
Happy gardening! Be sure to watch the complete Grocery Row Gardening documentary, if you haven’t seen it yet.
Also, don’t forget, we have a plant sale this weekend.
Plant Sale Details:
Come meet us and get some “GOOD” plants!
We will have our nursery booth set up on Saturday, JUNE 17, at the Atmore Flea Market, from 8AM to 1PM.
ADDRESS: 1815 Highway 21, 36502, Atmore, AL
Some of the plants for sale include: Pineapple guava, Chaste tree, Echinacea, Edible cannas, Sweet Shrub, Jerusalem artichoke, Comfrey, Tobacco, Bamboo (giant yellow timber type) “Robert Young”, Longevity spinach, Tropical milkweed, Chocolate mint, Stevia, Banana (Dwarf Cavendish), Daisies, Elderberries …and a few more rare tidbits
We will also have books, and would love to talk gardening when you stop by.
SPECIAL DISCOUNT OFFER!
We like to recycle pots and reuse them, so we’ll give you a $.50 credit on any blank, useable, one-gallon or larger pot you bring to our booth. Bring what you have and trade ’em in for plants!
Hope to see you there.