A: Raised beds do dry out a little faster but that is because the soil in them is typically loose and well-drained, not because the soil gets hot. I commonly see successful raised beds where the sides are eight inches high and the soil has been loosened four inches beneath that. This gives a plant rooting area twelve inches high, which is plenty for vegetables.
Q: Could you tell me how and why kudzu and Chinese privet were brought here?
Robert Leonard, email
A: Kudzu came from Japan to the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. Importers thought it could be a nice flowering vine and a good grazing crop for farm animals. In the mid-1930's the Civilian Conservation Corps and southern farmers planted kudzu to reduce soil erosion. Kudzu grows very well in poor soil and even better in rich soil, leading to its invasive character across the South. Chinese privet was also introduced as an ornamental plant. The white flowers are pretty and the scent is sweet but the seeds are avidly consumed by birds and deposited in unwanted places anywhere there is a bit of soil. I have a humorous essay on how to grow kudzu at bit.ly/GAgrowkudzu.
Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.