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Question
I have 2 small raised bed gardens I started on my lawn.  I did lay down newspapers to kill the grass when I started the gardens 3-4 years ago.  I planned to plant some garlic bulbs in one of the beds this fall, but when I spaded up on the raised beds, it was full of roots, some fine and some fairly thick.  I suspect they are from grass that was not killed by the newspaper, since there are no trees or bushes close enough to the raised beds to be the source of these roots.  I do have pictures of the roots I dug up if there is a way to post them on this site.  By the way, the other raised bed is also full of the same type of roots.

My question is how to kill the roots before planting the garlic. which I probably need to do fairly soon while the bulbs I purchased from Burpee are still fresh and healthy.  Is there a weed killer that quickly kills grass but will not attack garlic if it's planted fairly soon after application.  Ideally, a herbicide that kills grass (or even everything), then quickly breaks down into harmless chemicals.

Answer
Paul,

I would be interested in seeing the roots, you can attach pictures on this site.  Was anything growing in the beds before you started digging them up?  The roots may be from those plants and just have not composted yet.

If you have dug the bed thoroughly you can clear the roots by hand as much as you can, add in some compost or manure, some organic fertilizer and dig it again, then plant the garlic.  Garlic likes be be mulched.  Straw works, make sure you use about 4-6 inches of mulch on the beds.  This should keep any weeds/roots that may want to grow.  The garlic will start growing through the straw in February or March (if you live in North America).

I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any other questions.

Catherine,
http://www.your-vegetable-gardening-helper.com  

Growing Vegetables

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Catherine Abbott

Expertise

I am confident I can answer any questions about planting, growing and harvesting vegetables and culinary herbs. I am very knowledgeable and experienced in garden site planning and design, propagating, soil preparation, transplanting, pest control, disease management, watering, fertilizing, and composting.

Experience

I have been growing vegetables organically since 1993 first in my small backyard, then moving to a 2 acre plot where I grew vegetables for sale at our local farmers market and through a CSA (community shared agriculture). I started a popular website http://www.your-vegetable-gardening-helper.com in 2007 and have answered questions from all over the world through that site. I have 3 published Everything series books on gardening as well as several self published books for sale on my website.

Organizations
I volunteer and assist teaching disabled adults how to grow their own vegetable gardens. I have set up raised bed gardens in the front yards of their group homes and the gardens help to feed the households. I am very involved in our local farming community and am the treasurer and a garden mentor for a local society called One Straw, which promotes organic and sustainable practices for growing local food. I am a board of director for a government committee that is involved in keeping our ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve) safe.

Publications
I have 3 published Everything series books: The Everything Grow Your Own Vegetables Book published in 2010. The Everything Root Cellaring Book published in 2011. The Everything Small Space Gardening Book set to be published Jan 2012. I have 3 self published garden design books: Vegetable Garden Plans for your Raised Beds. Vegetable Garden Plans for Square Foot Gardening. Vegetable Garden Plans for Row Gardening. I have a self published book on soil building: Why is Soil so Important? Tips on Amending and Fertilizing I also publish a yearly journal promoting garden planning and planting by the moon cycles. The current one is called "My 2012 Vegetable Garden Journal" I write articles that are published at EzineArticles.

Education/Credentials
I teach gardening classes on propagating, pest and disease management, and soil fertility at our local community center. My education came from my mother, mentors, and growing my own gardens.

Past/Present Clients
I write a monthly newsletter for my gardening website and send it to a email list of over 1200 gardeners. I write articles for EzineArticles. I have had numerous local clients through gardening classes and mentoring.

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