- Author: Bill R. Reed
To document this I purchased tomatoes plants (Ace variety, from a 4 pack), and utilized three of the plants to run a trial to see if I could determine how significantly the eucalyptus roots affected the tomato plants' growth.
First, I planted one tomato plant directly into the root-infested raised bed. The second tomato plant was planted in a 5-gallon container which I filled using the raised bed root materials, cut up into chunks, and planted the tomato directly into this mixture. This planting was to test to see if the dead Eucalyptus roots had any phytotoxic effects on the tomatoes. The third tomato was essentially my control, with the tomato planted in a 5-gallon container in the new potting mix. All were fertilized bi-weekly with low nitrogen organic fertilizer and watered every other day.
The experiment was run for about 5 weeks. I found that the tomato planted directly into the root-infested raised bed grew very little, and seemed to struggle to get enough water, so I gave it extra water. The tomato planted in the chopped Eucalyptus roots with the raised bed potting mix actually did quite well and has the best set of tomatoes. There does not seem to be any phytotoxic effects from the dead Eucalyptus roots. The tomato in the new potting mix is growing fine and has set some tomatoes but fewer than the tomato plant in the dead roots. My belief is that this might be due to more nitrogen in the fresh potting mix.
Other garden vegetables such as vine crops, beans, and some other plants do not tolerate the root competition. We have found that carrots do okay, asparagus does moderately well, and potatoes are marginal. However, all these crops grow during the spring months when there is more free water in the soil.
The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources recommends that farmers stay 50 feet away from Eucalyptus, we are within 30 feet. We have shifted to above ground containers after excavating several raised beds and lining them with double landscape fabric to no avail.
Four photos are attached separately, as well:
Photo 1: Initial photo of the three tomato plants
- Author: Mike Gunther
- Author: Launa Herrmann
Native habitat: Indonesia, New Guinea and Malaysia
Leaves: Delicate grayish-green fronds finely divided
Light: Prefers shade to part shade
Water: Likes sprinkling. Needs enough water in growing season and when dormant, but does not tolerate saturation. I place the pot atop a brick for adequate drainage.
Location: Can survive outside in sheltered areas. Does not tolerate temperature below 20̊
Native habitat: Fiji
Leaves: Frond tips turn brown in hot dry air
Light: Indirect. No direct sun.
Water: Needs humidity. Likes misting.
Location: Often grown indoors in pots or hanging baskets. Prefers 60-75̊average room temperature spring to fall. No lower than 55̊ in winter.
- Author: Martha White
I recently had to replace a small section of sidewalk next to my garage. Not sure what caused it, but it had become uneven, leaving a dangerous lip I could easily have tripped over. Since I am not the most coordinated person, able to trip over throw rugs, hoses, and my own feet, I arranged for the corrective concrete work to be done. As part of the process, an old wooden planter, containing an asparagus fern, had to be moved.
The plant had been in that same location for over 20 years, watered when I thought about it, but ignored most of the year. It had obviously become pot bound, with the planter splitting apart from the overcrowded roots. One of the concrete workers got it up for me. The roots that had broken through the bottom of the planter extended into the ground. Many tiny white shapes that resembled really small potatoes were attached to the roots. I searched in my newest book, “Plant Propagation”, from the American Horticultural Association, to figure out what to do with them. This excellent resource book called these small shapes “bulblets”. It suggested removing each one and planting each in individual containers of soil.
I did further research online, and learned that what I had been calling an “asparagus fern” was not its true name! My long-lived plant is actually a “Foxtail Fern”, Asperigus meyeri. This plant is originally from South Africa, is part of the lily family, and thrives in the Mediterranean area. A problem arises when it is mislabeled as an “asparagus fern”, the Asparagus sprengeri, because the true asparagus fern is considered invasive. It is classified as a weed in Florida, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia! It looks similar to the foxtail, but it contains spines, poisonous red berries, and spreads by spores. A quick search of my garden revealed that I had two of the bad guy Asparagus sprengeri in pots. I have carefully removed them, placing all the offensive fronds into a large trash bag, and cleaning off my garden pruners with rubbing alcohol so I did not accidentally spread the invasive spores around.
I am enjoying my newly smooth sidewalk, and have moved the old wooden planter under a nearby tree so it can happily be ignored for another 20 years! I have planted my bulblets into individual pots, and will carefully tend them. Hoping for a bumper crop of foxtail ferns, with extras to share at the next Master Gardeners plant exchange!
- Author: Karen Metz