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High Yield Gardening: Sides of Raised Beds?

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jomoncon
New Orleans, LA
(Zone 9a)

February 26, 2011
5:56 AM

Post #8393510

I'll be building several 4x8 raised beds this year. What do most folks use for the sides? In the past, I've used non-treated wood, but it only lasts for a few years without rotting. I currently have 1 raised bed that's built with leftover composite boards from my deck, but that stuff's too expensive for a raised bed, around $90 per bed. I had thought of using cinder blocks, but was concerned that they would be too hot in New Orleans summers.

What are your thoughts?
drumlin
Rockport, ME
(Zone 5b)

February 26, 2011
6:07 AM

Post #8393525

I've asked around about this on different forums, and basically everyone seems to have their own favorite. Wood appears to be most popular because it's cheaper, but the composite specialty boards have lots of fans too. The thing with composite is that they're expensive initially, but then you don't have to buy anything for hopefully years. I guess it's a tradeoff that you have to calculate. I wouldn't think light colored cinder blocks would be all that hot, though.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

February 26, 2011
7:40 AM

Post #8393738

I started with plain pine boards 5 seasons ago. Looks like I'll have to start replacing them next year (2012) because some of them are beginning to rot.

My rows are 24 feet long, so I use three eight-foot boards six inches wide on one side. This year, because I garden on a slope, I've changed the other side to three eight-foot boards ten inches wide to make each bed level.

When I crouch down on the lower part of the garden and look up the slope, I can actually see the terracing effect I'm trying to achieve.
hillabeans
Chaska, MN
(Zone 4a)

February 26, 2011
9:05 AM

Post #8393886

I used railroad ties- that were 8"x8"x8' long. I did them in a double layer. 2 of my beds are L shaped with 24' long side and 12' short side. they are 4' wide. We pounded them in with rebar. The beds are 6 yrs old now, and there has been some splitting, but not bad enough yet to start replacing. I like the idea of having a place to sit while I gardened which is why I like the 8 inch wide ties. I also have 3 beds that are 16' x 4' down the "center" of the two facing L's.
texasrockgarden
Canyon Lake, TX
(Zone 8b)

February 26, 2011
10:00 AM

Post #8393968

My first raised box bed was a small cinder block bed stacked two high that I use for growing garlic. I have found that when working the cinder block bed I am constantly getting cut from the sharp edges on the cinder blocks. Using cinder blocks works really well but you may want to think about addressing the problem of the sharp edges.

I have since built four raised beds made from dry but not splitting (hand picked) R/R ties stacked two high and attached with 1/2 and 3/8 rebar driven 4-6 " into the ground. My beds are lined with tin. I have plans for two more.

Where I live I can get 25 hand picked ties delivered for $225.

The reason I went to R/R ties is because they are easier for me to level on a 16 or 24 foot length of garden space.

I too really enjoy being able to sit on the edges of the beds, if not to work them then just to admire them and have a coffee or cold drink.




This message was edited Feb 26, 2011 5:42 PM

This message was edited Feb 26, 2011 5:42 PM

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 26, 2011
12:10 PM

Post #8394153

Glad for this discussion! Will be constructing beds for the fall. Having a place to sit for coffee & admirIng is a definite consideration.
hrp50
Carrollton, TX
(Zone 8a)

February 26, 2011
1:01 PM

Post #8394220

I use 2" x 8" either 4', 6' or 8' length cedar. I stack them 2 high so I have a 16" depth of soil, and I use 4" x 4" cedar posts cut about 24 " long for the four corners. The cedar is light weight and weathers well so I don't anticipate having to replace them for many years.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 26, 2011
6:15 PM

Post #8394617

I think I'm gonna go cedar, too. A minimum of 14" deep.
drsaul
Hereford, TX
(Zone 7a)

February 26, 2011
6:23 PM

Post #8394625

My beds are 4'x16'x2' pressure treated. I bought the boards 16' long and had them delivered for free. It was much cheaper to get 2"x12"x16' boards instead of 8'. I stacked them 2 high to get the height I needed.
JuneyBug
Dover AFB, DE
(Zone 7a)

February 27, 2011
6:27 PM

Post #8396667

jomoncon, in NO you will be better off using the composite boards or cement blocks. If you hate the look, you can always get a couple of buckets of oyster shells and mortar them on the outsides of the beds.
drumlin
Rockport, ME
(Zone 5b)

February 28, 2011
3:34 AM

Post #8397098

Wow, JuneyBug, I personally LOVE that idea, especially on cement blocks! Very creative!
WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

February 28, 2011
4:14 AM

Post #8397147

Mine are made with cinder block and then stuccoed to match the house. They are lined with a sealing material to keep the water leaching through the cinder block. I have had to repair the stucco twice, in small areas but second time I did it because i watched the guy and it was not a big deal.

When they we constructed, the man that made them, measured me when I was sitting down and that is the height of the bed. They have a flat cap on the edge which I use as a seat.

I think you can see the cap in this photo. I am planting seed and plants on the 5th. Big trip to landscaping friends greenhouses for plants.

Thumbnail by WormsLovSharon
Click the image for an enlarged view.

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

February 28, 2011
4:43 AM

Post #8397188

We used to use railroad ties for landscaping, but I'd be careful about having them in a garden with edibles because of the preservatives used. Same for treated wood, although I know they've changed the formulation to something less toxic.

We don't use raised beds but I'm very interested in high yield and succession planting.
sempervirens
Northern, NJ
(Zone 6b)

February 28, 2011
6:49 AM

Post #8397405

I use rocks as edging throughout the garden, most were collected for free from construction sites locally.
For the vegetable/ herb garden I build up another row for height. Using the rocks enables me to create any shape bed I want.
I also have a combination of cement planters (also free) and rocks along the asphalt driveway.
This is a very hot area because of the reflected heat but the rocks seem to keep the roots of plants cool. I even had volunteer violets growing at the edge and they prefer a shadier cooler spot. Their leaves did crisp late in the season
but they are back now. I realize I'm in a much cooler part of the country so maybe someone from your area can tell you if the rock "wall" would work for you.

My veg/herb/flower garden is more heavily flower/herb/fruit currently but I'm interested in returning to more vegetables now.
sempervirens
Northern, NJ
(Zone 6b)

February 28, 2011
6:55 AM

Post #8397424

Sorry, I forgot to add the photo.
I first saw the use of rocks in the vegetable garden in a book on creative vegetable gardening,

Thumbnail by sempervirens
Click the image for an enlarged view.

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

February 28, 2011
8:12 AM

Post #8397613

That's really pretty. We have rocks around our pond, and so they wouldn't look too out of place we also added them to some of the other plantings, but in our vegetable garden/potager the walks are old brick and the paths are wood chips, so it's easier to get wheelbarrows in and out.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

February 28, 2011
10:36 AM

Post #8397934

I use brick-colored paving stones stood on end and tilting inwards a lottle for stability.
They are around 98 cents to $1.20 each where I live.
8" x 16 x 3/4" or
12" x 12" x 1"

My main goal was to build them fast-and-easy so I had SOMETHING to grow in.
The only usable soil is what I create from almost-pure clay and stones.

For my first 5 years or so, I'm building them as fast as I can make soil (i.e., somewhat sloppy).

After that, I plan to widen most of them by a few inches or add a lower "terrace", and at that time re-make the walls much tidier, probably gluing them together and chinking the corners with wedge-shaped pieces of pavers, or pebbles-and-mortar.

I hope the Admins will move this thread to this forum.
Soil and Composting: Crude but effective raised beds
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1139478/

I found that the up-ended paving stones gave good aeration and drainage, but the corners do dry out very quickly.
What I've started doing on new RBs is to use the heavy plastic from a 1-cubic foot bag of compost to line the corners from the base of the paving stone up to just below soil level.

Corey

Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA
Click the image for an enlarged view.

JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

February 28, 2011
4:58 PM

Post #8398661

I really like cinder blocks, and they do very well in our 100+ temps here. I grow all sorts of things in them- onions, spearmint, oregano, cutting celery- there is no limit as long as it isn't something that needs sidewise space. I usually color mine with some watered-down latex- sand or grass color. I just don't like concrete color in the garden!
paracelsus
Elmira, NY
(Zone 6a)

March 1, 2011
11:20 AM

Post #8400367

I did not have a bunch of money to spend on wooden or whatever sides of my raised beds, and I like to till in green manures, so I just use hilled beds. I keep the grass out by using a half moon edger, which I learned about from Victorian gardening techniques. It works really well--lasts the whole season for me.

Oddly enough, yesterday I was looking at a gardening book from 1907, and it was saying that using beds was old-fashioned and you should switch to planting in rows, lol!
drumlin
Rockport, ME
(Zone 5b)

March 1, 2011
4:53 PM

Post #8400981

That's a riot!!!!
paracelsus
Elmira, NY
(Zone 6a)

March 2, 2011
3:47 AM

Post #8401777

The more things change...

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

March 2, 2011
4:47 AM

Post #8401832

I'd like to see a photo of your half moon edger and how it works; that's an interesting idea!

And how funny about the 1907 gardening book!

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 2, 2011
5:53 AM

Post #8401917

A hundred years from now, our descendants will be advising their gardening friends to do it some other way!
paracelsus
Elmira, NY
(Zone 6a)

March 2, 2011
6:54 AM

Post #8402011

Here's what I bought, although I think I got it at Lowe's:

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100466172&cm_mmc=CJ-_-1992680-_-10368321&AID=10368321&PID=1992680&cj=true

It's got a sort of ridge on it to make it easier on your feet. You press it down into the soil and rock it from side to side to cut. That cuts the edge. But what the Victorians did was tilt the cut edge away from the bed so the surface of the grass surrounding it is undercut a little. That helps keep the grass from growing into the bed. It really works. It's work, but not horrible like double digging or anything. And you only have to do it once a year. At least, that's all I do.

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

March 2, 2011
7:22 AM

Post #8402069

That's what I had pictured, as far as the tool goes, but I still can't see how that would stop grass from growing into the bed. It does sound like a neat idea, though.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 2, 2011
8:43 AM

Post #8402173

Unfortunately, this edger will not stop grass that forms underground runners from growing into raised beds. At least that's been my experience with Burmuda grass.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 2, 2011
9:46 AM

Post #8402273

>> A hundred years from now, our descendants will be advising their gardening friends to do it some other way!

They will probably "discover" new, scientific benefits to digging the soil with a pointy stick, and burying dead fish under corn hills.

And perhaps fertility rituals will make a come-back ... I would cheerfully investigate that if I could get a government grant ...

Corey
paracelsus
Elmira, NY
(Zone 6a)

March 2, 2011
12:35 PM

Post #8402573

It works surprisingly well to stop runners because you are undercutting the grass edge so that the root layer is exposed to air. I find that it works a lot better than using any kind of edging to keep an edge neat and to keep grass out.

I don't know about Bermuda grass. When I had that, my soil was pure sand.
steadycam3
Houston Heights, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 2, 2011
12:55 PM

Post #8402603

I use 2X12 pine which I scavenged from a construction site free. I asked their permission first. I got enough that if I need to replace... I already have the boards. At first I stacked 2X6's because I had not found the 2X12's yet. My beds are 4X4 so the short lengths leftover from cutting floor joists were close to the size I wanted.

Also, I will not replace as soon as I see rotting. I will only replace when the function of the bed is compromised by the rotting. Ive had mine for three years and they still look new. The color is changing from yellow to grey to some degree. I do not believe my boards are pressure treated but they could be... but arsenic is no longer a concern since it has been outlawed. The boards dont have that greenish tint that treated wood usually has. Me and my neighbors have been eating food from them for 3 years and no immedidate bad effects were noticed.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 2, 2011
2:29 PM

Post #8402893

Steadycam,
That's great news about the PT boards. You just keep watching out for scales or horns growing out your body, and let us know if you get any.

JUST KIDDING! Sheesh! ^:-)^
drumlin
Rockport, ME
(Zone 5b)

March 2, 2011
4:01 PM

Post #8403056

Paracelsus, that's what I was doing for years, but I got very frustrated when the lawn mower wheel kept falling into the ditch between the grass and bed. It does work, but you have to make that ditch very deep, and crabgrass seems to looove finding it's way in there. I guess if I could go out everyday, but that's not an option. That's why I'm leaning towards raised beds with walls. You can just weedwack around the walls, or even just kill all the grass by putting newspapers and crushed rock down between beds.
paracelsus
Elmira, NY
(Zone 6a)

March 2, 2011
4:36 PM

Post #8403128

Yeah, but you have to build the walls, get the dirt to put in it, and then you cannot grow any green manure in there because there is no way to till it in. I can understand why people like that kind of raised bed, but for me they are way too much work and require too much outside input. The hilled beds with traditional edging as I described work better for me because I can get right in there with the tiller and mix in the white clover and peas I grow for green ferts, and because I don't have to bring in any dirt. True, there is no nifty thing to sit on on the side!:) I just have to sit on the grass and crawl around in the dirt. Which to me is part of the point of gardening.:)

Crab grass is a real problem if it goes to seed, but otherwise I have been able to contain it.
drumlin
Rockport, ME
(Zone 5b)

March 2, 2011
6:29 PM

Post #8403366

How do you mow around it, just keep the wheels away and then weedwack closer?
steadycam3
Houston Heights, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 2, 2011
10:13 PM

Post #8403738

Paracelcus, I discovered that that weed claw or garden claw that was popular several years ago makes an excellent tiller for my square foot beds. I tilled in my green manure last season with it and was very pleased. I wanted a small Mantis tiller for the job but not in the budget. I got a garden claw from Big Lots for $10. I dont know how big your area is but I just have 8 4X4 beds and it works great for me. I use it to till in any ammendments and compost, etc. Cam
paracelsus
Elmira, NY
(Zone 6a)

March 3, 2011
3:54 AM

Post #8403866

drumlin, I just mow close to the edge, but I have an electric mower, so it is very light. It's easy to mow an edge with a steep drop-off or next to a cement curb by just holding it level even if the wheels on one side are in the air.

steadycam3, I have about 2000 sq. ft. in garden. I use hand tools a lot but for working in green manure, I use a rear-tine tiller.
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

March 3, 2011
6:48 AM

Post #8404138

Here's a good article about edging http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/perfect-edges.aspx?nterms=74884
and here's a video http://www.finegardening.com/videos/index.aspx?id=106928&c=3

Hop you like 'em. I just love modern tech don't you?
steadycam3
Houston Heights, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 3, 2011
1:13 PM

Post #8404778

Loved those articles, Yehudith, but now I want one of those electric edgers. Im reminded of a story about a contest to win a $million. The interviewer asked each of the three finalists what they would do with the $ if they won. One man said he would invest in the stock market, another said he would donate it to charity. The farmer said he would farm with it as long as it lasted. I seem to have a never ending want list!!!
yehudith
silver spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

March 3, 2011
2:49 PM

Post #8404929

I have one!!!! Hubby bought it for me years ago. I have a 1/2 moon edger too. I like the 1/2 moon better, but then I make my bread by hand and gave away my bread machine. He just can't figure it out.
drumlin
Rockport, ME
(Zone 5b)

March 3, 2011
4:01 PM

Post #8405069

Actually, yehudith, I can understand that. It's a control thing! That electric edger looks pretty cool, but man, it goes fast. I can just see me losing control and ripping through some beloved plant. I have a couple of half moon edgers. With those, you HAVE to get the best and sturdiest, because the half-moon has a tendency to get bent back and forth, and a cheap one can end up so bent it's practically useless. Learned THAT the hard way.
sempervirens
Northern, NJ
(Zone 6b)

March 3, 2011
7:03 PM

Post #8405458

I have a question about the half moon edger. Do you use your foot to rock it back and forth or can you cut the edge with arm strength only?
steadycam3
Houston Heights, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 3, 2011
7:05 PM

Post #8405461

chuckle. First, can you send us a photo of your arms?
sempervirens
Northern, NJ
(Zone 6b)

March 3, 2011
7:40 PM

Post #8405566

Ah, really really long lol.

The edger I saw in a catalog had a long handle I was assuming it was so you didn't have to bend down to cut the edge.
I recently hurt my knee so I can't put a lot of pressure on it or bend down I was looking for something I could use standing with arm strength only.
steadycam3
Houston Heights, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 3, 2011
8:17 PM

Post #8405625

Sounds like the electric one is the one for you. Unless you are super strong or the dirt is really soft. Sometimes I have to stand on the shovel with both feet to make it go into the soil. I guess if I was smart, I would water it first. Did you look at those two links posted above by Yehudith? They are both good for selecting the tool. Cam

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 3, 2011
8:18 PM

Post #8405627

Would a shovel or spade with a straight blade ("trenching spade" or "sharpshooter") also work for edging?

>> That electric edger looks pretty cool, but man, it goes fast.

I need to dig rather long, shallow trenches through very heavy clay-plus-rocks, and they would ideally be very narrow trenches. "Slit trenchs" but not in the military sense. Just an inch or two wide.

I wonder if renting an electric edger would be practical? I always assumed they would ride up over any rock larger than a pebble, which for me would mean "always".

Corey
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 3, 2011
8:25 PM

Post #8405640

Rick, your soil must be the same river bed that mine is! I can't drive a stake in the ground deep enough to support anything!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 3, 2011
8:43 PM

Post #8405659

Well, I spent 2-3 years swinging a big heavy pick up as high as I could and banging it down as hard as I could, to drive it in deeper than an inch or two.

Then someone pointed out that I could spray a litlle water the night before, so it had time to soak in and SOFTEN the clay, to make it easier to dig.

(DUHH)

I had been waiting for several dry days in a row that I WOULDN'T ever work clay when it was wet, since the first time I did that, I turned some poor soil into a lunar landscape.

If your going to dig it out and wheelbarow it away, or just pound a stake into it, consider dampeneing it first!

P.S. I discoved that a pick is good for breaking up clay and stones. A mattock is needed for breaking up clay and roots. Clay plus stones plus roots makes Jack a strong boy.

Corey
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 3, 2011
10:10 PM

Post #8405741

The problem I have is not clay- it is ROCKS! Our house is built on an old river bed- complete with millions of rocks- I wish water would soften them!
paracelsus
Elmira, NY
(Zone 6a)

March 4, 2011
5:52 AM

Post #8406050

sempervirens, you use your weight to bite into the dirt. There's a little ledge on the edger to make that easier. Then rock it back and forth a little. I believe the long handle is because it is intended that you cut at a slight angle towards yourself.
sempervirens
Northern, NJ
(Zone 6b)

March 4, 2011
6:44 AM

Post #8406149

Thanks for the response paraceleus, I think I'll purchase one.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 4, 2011
8:17 AM

Post #8406358

"...sides of raised beds..."

?????

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 4, 2011
9:09 AM

Post #8406480

>> The problem I have is not clay- it is ROCKS! Our house is built on an old river bed- complete with millions of rocks- I wish water would soften them!

Urrr! Not much you can do with rocks other than excavate and build a wall, such as the side of a raised bed, to sdtay "on-topic".

Dynamite? Diamond-tipped drills? Pitons?
Ground-penetrating radar to find the one spot BETWEEN rocks where you can drive a stake?

I saw this in central Oregon where I guess they had no big stones, and the soil was too sandy or soft for solid anchoring: They would make an above-ground "pillar" of small rocks contained in a cylinder of chicken wire, with a little bracing. The "pillar" was solid enough to hold something like a mailbox post upright.

Maybe use some of your rocks to build small "pyramids" reinforced with chicken wire, and build them around the stake that you wnat to hold upright. It would have a pretty big footprint! And take lot of time per stake.

Corey
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 4, 2011
2:55 PM

Post #8406957

Here's what all my gardens look like- edged with rocks! I had to put plastic edging between the rocks and grass to try to keep the grass from encroaching- it does help, but I still have to dig a lot. It is worth the work for the beauty of the flowers, though.

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

March 4, 2011
3:41 PM

Post #8407011

That's gorgeous, Jo! It looks like something from a magazine!
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 4, 2011
4:38 PM

Post #8407124

Here's another angle- taken in late May last year. I hope it is as pretty this year.

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

drumlin
Rockport, ME
(Zone 5b)

March 4, 2011
5:19 PM

Post #8407198

Just beeeeeeautiful, Jo!!! Very inspiring!! Um, so, jomoncon, are you getting any ideas out of this, or are you now completely overwhelmed?? I know I've gotten a lot of information!

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 4, 2011
5:53 PM

Post #8407252

You know, I was just about to comment about this thread ...then, you posted those GORGEOUS pics and made me forget what I was gonna say...

You sure those are real flowers and grass??? ^:-)^
steadycam3
Houston Heights, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 4, 2011
5:55 PM

Post #8407254

I have Delphinium envy, Jo. It's beautiful. Cam
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 4, 2011
7:37 PM

Post #8407392

Thanks for all your compliments- yes, it is all real- When I moved here in Dec '07, the entire front and back yard was completely dead- I will post a photo- I worked like crazy- it had been empty for a year, and here you need irrigation or grass dies. I dug, aerated, added composted manure, and pampered it like crazy. I'm gonna go find a photo- be right back!
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 4, 2011
7:54 PM

Post #8407412

OK- Here is the yard about 3 months after I moved in. I don't think I could do it again! The yellow spots are newly transplanted sod that I dug in the back yard where I was making my vegetable gardens.

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 4, 2011
7:57 PM

Post #8407418

One more- I can hardly believe it ever looked like that! My neighbors think I am nuts- I am 76 years old! But hubby is disabled, and I love a challenge- in fact I have painted the entire outside of the house too- and I have photos of that!

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 4, 2011
8:04 PM

Post #8407427

Last one, I promise- somebody is gonna fuss at me for getting off topic here! This is me on the ladder with a neighbor holding it!
PS- Thanks for the comments on the Delphinium- it was gorgeous, but I'm not sure it will be back this year.

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

March 4, 2011
8:08 PM

Post #8407432

JoP, I am 68 and I am amazed you are still alive. Great job. Sharon
WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

March 4, 2011
8:09 PM

Post #8407433

JoP, that photo explains everything. You are nuts. A high ladder...

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

March 5, 2011
4:22 AM

Post #8407663

I showed your photo to DH; he says, "Bless her sturdy little heart!" Amazing!

I looked at pansies the other day, but here they bloom for such a short time and then they go to seed and/or dry up. It gets very hot here in the summer. They're beautiful, though.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 5, 2011
5:18 AM

Post #8407719

Jo, I wish my garden looked liked yours - it's absolutely gorgeous!

We are not blessed with "rocks" just hard-as-a-rock red clay!
mraider3
Helena, MT

March 5, 2011
7:34 AM

Post #8407930

I use both rock and cinder blocks for various borders, but when it comes to raised beds I go strictly with treated lumber. I have opted for more expense vs. extra labor in this area, since I have enough to do as is with nearly a quarter acre devoted to raising edibles. I now have six 4ft x 8 ft raised beds having built two each year for the last three years. The fasteners for the corners actually cost more than the lumber, but I'm certain these beds will outlast me. The biggest problem I have is the pathways around the outsides of these beds. I have been building these up with clay from holes dug in the garden for tomato and other plants. The level around the beds is sufficient enough now that I will be able to lay down some ground/weed prevent cloth this year. But before I do that I will use Soferdigs suggestion of adding a layer of wood ash to prevent the spread of invasive grass and weeds.

As an added note I have read that the creosote in railroad ties is toxic to plants, but there are ways around that problem.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 5, 2011
8:46 AM

Post #8408057

greenhouse_gal, our temps get above 100 here, but my pansies bloom all summer. Those in the photo were planted in spring '09, went all winter and lasted all last summer. Some of them are still going, but most will have to be replaced.
mraider3, I also use a combination of cinder blocks, composite decking that I recycled and cedar fence boards for edging my raised beds.

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

LiseP
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 5, 2011
9:47 AM

Post #8408142

Man, after all those gorgeous pictures, JoParrott, I hate to ask for another one. But do you happen to have any pics of your cinder blocks (the ones with the holes in them)? Just curious to see them, both to see the color and also what you have grown in them. Like you, I am not too fond of gray concrete color.

I really want to grow a ton of herbs - especially oregano, parsley, basil and dill -- and I think the blocks might be a great answer. Any problems with them, like drying out? Or does painting them help with that?
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 5, 2011
10:16 AM

Post #8408185

I sure do- here is one- taken last July. I watered down some of my house paint and rolled on the blocks- I have had brown in the past- just anything other that concrete color!

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 5, 2011
10:20 AM

Post #8408195

No problem at all with drying out- or heat for that matter. I have irrigation sprinklers, but I like to hand water so I can check each plant. You will love them for herbs. Just don't put bushy plants side by side. I usually put scallions or chives in between basil, etc. I grow a lot of cutting celery since I don't like the stalks.
drumlin
Rockport, ME
(Zone 5b)

March 5, 2011
11:02 AM

Post #8408251

Between Jo and Sharon, I'm gettting pretty convinced that concrete blocks are not the ugly things I thought they were. OK, Jo, I have to ask. HOW do you get the edge so completely perfect against your blocks?
drumlin
Rockport, ME
(Zone 5b)

March 5, 2011
11:02 AM

Post #8408252

Edge of the grass, I mean.
steadycam3
Houston Heights, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 5, 2011
11:41 AM

Post #8408305

And I want to know how you get pansies to last that long. Mine always quit around April. We have 100 degree days a lot in July and We often have 75 in Feb and March. I am four zones away in 9a. If I moved them to the shade do you think it would help? I love your gardens and I love it that you are 76. I think gardening is good for longevity. I see lots of gardeners on here well past 60. Im 68 and without my garden, life would not be nearly as good. It gets me excited often and I love being excited about life. Im 68. Can you come help me install this gutter on the back of my neighbor's garage so I can have his rainwater? He said it was OK. chuckle. Cam
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 5, 2011
11:53 AM

Post #8408328

OK- To get the good edge I use strings tied to stakes- then some hard digging! The half moon tool would be good, but I have a spade that is not curved, and I keep it sharp. Lots of elbow grease and you got it!
As for Pansy longevity, I believe soil temperature is almost more important that air temps. A nice mulch would surely help, but in TX that means you have to control snails & slugs- we don't have them much here- When I lived in Louisiana (40 years) I fought them year round. Here Earwigs are my worst emeny, and I had never heard of them in the south! We all have our regional struggles, but it is well worth it. Today we have a perfect day and I am cleaning aroung perennials to see any signs of life. I am learning year by year about the hardiness in our zone.
This photo was just about at the peak of blooms last year.

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

steadycam3
Houston Heights, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 5, 2011
12:38 PM

Post #8408418

Drumlin, in the case of cinder blocks, you could just use string trimmer held at a slight angle. It can give you a clean edge. I used it for years to edge with when I had a lawn. A string trimmer is not good around trees and shrubs...too easy to "slip" and girdle the bark enough to kill the plant.

Now without lawn, I have a more "natural" style. Im going for a more woodland or arboretum look so I dont use the string trimmer anymore. I have another tool rechargeable for about 30 minutes work that looks kinda like the clippers barbers use. I dont know the name of it but it's made by Ryobi. It has a long handle so it can be used standing but for the small tasks I use it for, I dont use the long handle. It has wheels on the bottom to assist when using the long handle. I think if you had yards and yards of trimming to do, this would not be fast enough. Good for small jobs tho. Cam
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

March 5, 2011
1:04 PM

Post #8408453

I just had to show you this- A few months ago I had bought several Dungeness crabs- one of my addictions! and after making broth with all the shells I ground them up in my VitaMix that I use for such things, and buried it in several places. Today I got out my B&D 18volt cultivator and went through all of it. It looks like gold to me! I am so impatient to start planting!

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

greenhouse_gal

greenhouse_gal
Southern NJ
United States
(Zone 7a)

March 5, 2011
1:24 PM

Post #8408508

Jo, you're my idol! It's so inspiring to see what you do, and the results you get! I have the same problem with pansies that Steadycam mentioned; they just die on me. Maybe I need to deadhead them more faithfully but I'm really pretty good about that.

Today I planted peas, kale, spinach, broccoli raab, lettuce, chard, beets, arugula, and mixed mustard greens outside. And I put my pepper and eggplant seeds in my Parks BioDome inside to get them started. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain, so that should be good for my garden.
PrissyJo
Roswell, NM
(Zone 6a)

March 19, 2011
8:08 AM

Post #8436210

WormsLove Sharon~~ Wow. That's really pretty... especially with your wall. I was wondering how you put those hoops in, did you fasten them or stick them in the ground? And if they're PVC, what size are they? Thanks.
cody_wellard
Seattle
United States

May 30, 2011
8:49 AM

Post #8596694

Wow, lots of good info. I am new to the forum and we are planning on building some new raised beds. Great info.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

May 31, 2011
12:27 PM

Post #8599545

I put some pictures of my concrete-paving-stone-walls into the "wrong" thread.

Post #8589887
Post #8589943
Post #8589955
Post #8589960
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1182544/

Corey












Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA
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Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

May 31, 2011
9:21 PM

Post #8600573

I've decided to go with painted cinder blocks. May do the stucco treatment down the line, and definitely a cap for sitting.

Gonna need ya'lls tutilage on leveling and dimensions. Will keep you posted.

First order of business: a new fence.
jomoncon
New Orleans, LA
(Zone 9a)

June 1, 2011
7:39 AM

Post #8601203

Gymgirl, I'm with you. I Think I've decided on cinder block as well. I really would like to to do them 2 layers high - about 16" tall with a capstone on top. I think this would be the perfect height for sitting.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

June 1, 2011
8:33 AM

Post #8601301

Jomoncon,
We're totally on the same page! I've located the cinder blocks and need to go pick 'em up.

WorMs,
Please tell me more about the sealing, the stoccoing, and the cap seat.

Thanks
oyye_vey
Fort Wayne, IN

June 5, 2011
6:48 PM

Post #8611588

To construct our raised beds my brilliant husband came up with a great idea using clearance wooden siding from Menard's. At 49 cents per 4 foot length we made each bed including the 2 x 4's to screw the siding into for about $12 a bed for a 4ft x 10ft bed. We primed the beds with an outdoor sealer to make the untreated wood last longer and this is the second year they're being used. We made 4 last year and constructed a "few" more this year. I'll post a few photos to get a better idea of what I'm talking about. The tomato bed has a series of screw eyes that we tie jute/sisal type rope into a criss-cross pattern that easily supports the weight of hundreds of tomatoes. It did REALLY well last year except that our soil level was too low and we crowded the bed with FORTY tomato plants... oops! Not the prettiest beds in the world, but they work really well and fast and easy to construct.

Thumbnail by oyye_vey
Click the image for an enlarged view.

oyye_vey
Fort Wayne, IN

June 5, 2011
6:50 PM

Post #8611597

Here are a few more of the beds... yes we need to mow :D

Thumbnail by oyye_vey
Click the image for an enlarged view.

oyye_vey
Fort Wayne, IN

June 5, 2011
6:51 PM

Post #8611604

And a few more... the tomato bed is in the background of this one.

Thumbnail by oyye_vey
Click the image for an enlarged view.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

June 6, 2011
12:23 AM

Post #8611966

Grrrreat price!

I like that you can add depth at will ... what, 4" at a time? How wide is the siding?

At that price you could replace them every 3 years and still have less cost for a long time.
Maybe an inner liner of heavy plastic below soil level would keep the boards drier longer.

I think yours look better than mine!

Corey
oyye_vey
Fort Wayne, IN

June 6, 2011
6:12 AM

Post #8612272

They have wooden siding available in various widths 4-8 inches I think and the clearance siding was in 4 foot widths, but if you buy a 10 or 12 foot length of non clearance siding it ends up being about $6-8 per 10-12 feet. (Not nearly as affordable as 49 cents for 4 feet) They do join together so you can stack them as high as you want. The tomato bed is maybe 16 inches high and the supports for the string (just 2x4's) are 5 feet high. You could always go higher, but I'm not all that tall so I wouldn't want them much higher. Our peas and pole beans are growing on 6 foot string trellises and if they get too tall I might need a step stool. :)

Crops that we just wanted to try on a trial basis we just made short beds like these butternut squash that I'm going to see if I can get to grow along this fence.

We didn't line them with plastic, but we did get lazy on a few of them and didn't dig them out. We just stapled in landscaper's fabric over the grass and dumped the dirt in. Our garden did REALLY REALLY well last year and we had more veggies than we knew what to do with, but we called it our "learning" year. We didn't have nearly enough soil in the beds so our veggies didn't get enough sun/air, but that didn't stop them from making enough to share with the whole neighborhood and then some. Heck, what year isn't a learning year? I read the best book at the library! http://www.amazon.com/Small-Plot-High-Yield-Gardening-Turning-Organic/dp/1580080375 It's called "Small Plot - High Yield Gardening" and it was full of such useful info that I never knew. Because of that book we're working towards setting up a rabbit hutch somewhere to have rabbits just to keep the poop. According to the author ONE rabbit produces enough perfect fertilizer to feed 500 square feet of garden space. Next year we are going to give rabbits a go. This year we've planted garlic and onions around all the beds because I read that it helps keep pests out of the beds, but I think I went overboard. I've planted over 300 onions and at least that many garlic. We decided that we would grow things that we just wanted to try out in pots and if it turns out we like them then maybe next year they'll get a spot in the ground. Our entire back yard is sunny... there isn't a single tree. So we're very luck with sunny space. :)

Thumbnail by oyye_vey
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

June 6, 2011
6:33 AM

Post #8612314

Can you let a rabbit run loose in a totally enclosed yard? Will he dig his way out? What about predators?

I'm putting up a new fence soon, 6ft. I KNOW he won't chew through a 2x12 rot board will he?

I need a productive pet...

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 6, 2011
9:50 AM

Post #8612752

oyye_vey - what a great set-up! I love the jute twine idea, I'll have to try that next year. My tomatoes always flop all over the place!

We had rabbits when we lived in South Florida and their poop was a great addition to the garden.

Gymgirl - I used to have a book called: Rasing Rabbits the Modern Way, but gave it away before moving to NC.

http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Rabbits-Modern-Publishing-Classic/dp/0882664794

Hmmm... Maybe I should buy another copy and get some more rabbits.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

June 6, 2011
11:03 AM

Post #8612922

Uh, never mind. It just occurred to me that a loose rabbit will eat my greens!

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 6, 2011
2:05 PM

Post #8613325

Gymgirl - you could build an enclosure for your rabbit. Domestic rabbits don't "wander" like wild rabbits do. They are happy to stay near their home.

Ours were in separate cages with trays underneath so I could collect the droppings. Each had a little box that they could hide out in. One thing to know about rabbits: they need to eat some of their droppings. I don't remember why, had something to do with the bacteria in the poop being needed for digestion.

Hope you weren't eating as you read that! LOL

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

June 6, 2011
2:30 PM

Post #8613367

I have a strong constitution...
beckygardener
(Becky) in Sebastian, FL
(Zone 10a)

June 9, 2011
10:36 PM

Post #8621470

I am very impressed with all the ideas of building materials to make raised beds. I've done the wood beds and they do rot. Can't afford cedar, so I used treated wood. I am really liking the idea of cinder blocks. Build the bed up 2 or 3 blocks high with a capstone on the top sounds perfect to me! I am interested like some others as to what you use to seal them with??? Doesn't concrete chemicals leach into the soil/ground around it unless it is sealed?

Something else occurred to me ... what about constructing your own concrete "walls" for a bed? I was wondering how hypertufa would work instead of solid concrete? Use cheap plywood to make the forms: http://www.all-about-planters.com/articles/build_concrete_planter.html Pour hypertufa or concrete into the forms to make solid walls? A lot more work, but it would certainly outlast me over time.

I really need to find an alternative to wood. Between the carpenter ants, the termites, and rotting ... wood just doesn't last at all here in Florida.
JuneyBug
Dover AFB, DE
(Zone 7a)

June 9, 2011
10:44 PM

Post #8621472

Yes, you can make fake rock walls with concrete ☺ here are some ideas to work with:
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/399153/
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/575362/
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/439175/

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