Table Top Gardens

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Built a few Table Top Gardens so I don't have to bend over so much. Everything is waist high. 3ft high to the top of the garden. Each person can make them as high as they need to to make it more comfy to garden.
I do like big plots of gardens too but these are extra special. One 2ftX8ft TT Garden will grow 16 cabbage , broc, or cauliflowers or mixed. One per every square foot depending on how big the plants natural space should be. Or you could grow 256 carrots.
Or a salad garden. In addition to having a Table Top Garden, You can build an extra frame rather it be pvc or wood so you can cover it with shade cloth when it is too hot or you can cover it with plastic when frost is about to arrive, or get an early start.
I think covering the squash is a great idea to keep out the squash bugs. You can uncover it in the mornings and pollinate the females yourself or let the bees have a turn. Check for bugs before you cover it back up. If you don't mind pollinating a few plants, You could make screen box frames to keep out even smaller insects. The possibilities are endless so let the imagination run wild.

Table Top Gardens can be made from anything you can box in and fill with soil. The whole Idea is to bring it up to your waste.
Old Picnic tables, Pallets, bed frames, deck banisters, etc....... I prefer my gardens to be at least 8 inches deep. 10 is better and 12 is excellent.
I personally don't like growing pole beans , vine veggies, or sweet potatoes in the table top gardens because they take over the box and you end up loosing a lot of good growing space. I prefer to grow the vine plants on the ground with a trellis. Unless you want to take the time to train the plant to grow over the sides and downward. Wave Petunias did great in the TT garden.

Here is an example of making a PVC hoop over the TT garden for early plants or protecting from the first few frost to extend the harvest time.

Thumbnail by CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

I will post pictures a few at a time as I find time to post. I have several.

The soil should be able to retain moisture and my favorite mixture is 1/3 peat, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 compost
If you cannot get vermiculite, 1/2 peat and 1/2 compost works good too.

Thumbnail by CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Another good soil mix is simply= ProMix BX. Yep, it's expensive but you only have to add it once. A good fresh compost mix can be added every time you plant something new.

Ignore the new house= it is still under construction and over in another thread topic.

These Table Top Gardens have marigolds that were planted back in April. It has new squash plants. Current sown carrots and radishes and one square foot of garlic chives growing. The carrots have taken the place of potatoes that have been dug up and there use to be a few melon vines in there. Mini.

Thumbnail by CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Making 5 more Table Top Gardens at the moment. It will take me a few weeks to complete.
3= 2x8ft
1= 3x4
1= 4x4

A friend gave me some work tables from her shop and I will be using them for the TT gardens.
Some need 4x4 legs. Some need extra support in the center to hold up the weight. Reconstruct to make it work.
I will also be adding a few work shelves on the end of the tables to hold small tools or transplant pots while working.
Someone else said they had a mail box on theirs that they kept their tools in. I thought that was a cute idea.

Thumbnail by CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

If you have Table Top Gardens, have pictures, have ideas, suggestions, opinions, please feel free to chime in and add to the topic. I live to garden and garden to live. vice versa

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I imagine that's a LOT of weight when the soil is wet. What kind of reinforcing under the bottom?

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Since the beds are only 2ft wide, it only needs a 2x4 across with legs holding it up. The four tables that are completed only have 4x4 leg supports in the center and the bottoms are 3/4 ply.
The boxes are lined with 6 mil plastic.

Yorktown, VA(Zone 7a)

I love these Cricket!

I think I will copy them for next year's deck project! :) Is it all just untreated pine? I really love the relative narrowness. Mine is 2 1/2 feet deep, so it is a little bit of a stretch to get to the back. I could easily make two and put them perpendicular to each other in the same space. Luckily we only grow herbs in it right now. One question though, if the bottom is plywood, how do they drain?

The one that I made has hardware cloth topped by window screen on the bottom. It almost drains too well, taking nutrients with it in the process.


Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

I drilled holes in the bottom of the plywood. Some of the boxes are treated but all will be lined with plastic. After I put the plastic in place, I punched holes in the plastic to match up with the holes in the plywood. When I put the soil in, I tried to make sure that the holes were still in line with each other. Drain holes need to be every 6 inches and 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch wide.

Hubby built the first ones for me back in Feb. After he was through he called me outside and when i got there he was laying in one of them.

Thumbnail by CricketsGarden
Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Really getting into his work. LOL

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

LOL! He sure built some nice raised beds☺ I think that those are the best ones that I have seen. (comfy lookin' too, LOL)

Tolleson, AZ(Zone 9a)

Great picture!!

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

The first four tt gardens are really heavy....It takes at least two people to move it without soil and that was still really heavy. You have to make sure they are where you want them before you fill them up cause after they are full of soil, It would take at least 6 men to move it. In order to move the other 3 gardens to my deck after the deck is finished, I will have to unload all the soil to move the box.
We had built the gardens on the deck to begin with. But we had to move them off the deck into the yard so we could move the mobile home and build a house and lower the deck. Hubby had a good set of hand trucks to wheel them around to the back yard. I thought they were going to break my back just getting them off the deck. I will have to round up a few men with good backs to move them back on the deck and feed everyone a steak on the grill.

The cost of two boxes , which uses up a whole sheet of plywood, is about $100 total for all the wood and hardware.

If I had a chance to do those 1st four gardens again, I would of made them 4 ft long instead of 8ft long just because I have had to move them around a lot due to construction.

Had 5 hours of windy storms this morning and it blew my squash plants around like pretzels. They don't seem to be broken and I will have to reposition them gently. I should of anchored them down before now.

happy gardening

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

I built some boxes 6 inches x 6 inches x 8 feet long to grow stuff in.These boxes sit on saw horses and can be moved with one strong man or a couple of people. I like this size it has some obvious short commings but has a lot of good points to.It grows lettuce great and it is especially nice because it is slug free.

I also grew bush beans and bush peas not so good but I see hope that they will do better if I plant less seed. Next year I will plant more boxes of both.

Swiss Chard was a total failure it needs more space for its roots.This is a no try again.

Next year I will probably make a stair step for the boxes to set on in place of the saw horses.

This is five of them side x side snug and warm inside my gh.They will be put out side as soon as they are a bit bigger and the hard freezes turn into hard frost.
Right now I just cover with ins blanket when it is going to freeze hard and then drape a pc of visqueen over that and down to the ground and put a small elect heater under there. You could use a couple of light bulbs/. Thats my story and I am sticking to it.

Thumbnail by eweed
Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

that worked out pretty good eweed.
I was thinking about making my 4x4 and 3x4 tables with 2x8s and making sure I had plenty of vermiculite in the soil so it doesn't dry out so quickly. These are the tables that I want to grow my salads in along with radishes and short root crops. I have to order more lettuce seeds. With all the moving around we have been doing since Feb, I have lost my gallon baggie of lettuce ,, carrot, radish, and cold crop seeds. Already ordered the cold crop seeds.

This table had been painted already. After I build the sides for it, I will line it with plastic and drill a few holes.
All the tables will be painted on the outside. Hoping they will last at least 6 to 7 years. This table will make a perfect salad TT garden.

Thumbnail by CricketsGarden
Yorktown, VA(Zone 7a)

Great picture!

I think that I will use the same setup, but with window screen over the drainage holes. What is the purpose of the plastic? Purely for protecting the wood I assume.

Thanks again!


Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

Cricket if you just want to grow lettuce and are into experimentation you can grow lettuce in a hunk of residential rain trough which is about 4x4. Lettuce will grow but you need to keep the water going to it

This is nice bug free lettuce.I think maybe the new cedar smell of the boxes helps drive them away.

This is outside now still on saw horses lol I have lots of horaes and I built 12 boxes.

This message was edited Aug 4, 2011 5:16 PM

Thumbnail by eweed
Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Wow! I think that is the prettiest lettuce I have ever seen. I so wish I had a GH or even a hoop house.

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

You can make a small one pretty cheap. I have some like cricket shows at the top of this thread only mine are on the ground.

This is one nof two that are filled with peppers I remove the plastis cover in July to keep the peppers from getting leggy . I will replace it in a week or so. I had the boards which happen to be 2x8 and the left over rebar stubs. I paid $1.20 for five pc of 1/2 inch sch 40 pvc pipe. I spent about 10 bucks more for some really neat clamps to hold the plastic down

This message was edited Aug 5, 2011 12:18 AM

Thumbnail by eweed
Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Yes, gutters. I think it was Bernie who showed us a couple years ago how he had several gutters on the end of his greenhouse wall and all were growing lettuce. That was a sight to see too.
I chose not to use gutters cause they dry out so quickly but someone suggested to use more vermiculite in the gutters so the gutter idea is not completely out of the question for the future.

Eweed= your lettuce is beautiful.

I have greenhouses too. I do not grow in them during the summer except for tomato produce in one of them . I am gradually making grow box beds in the greenhouse. That's a whole different subject with hundreds and hundreds of photos since I been doing that for 8 years in the greenhouse.

I grew lettuce last fall in a raised concrete block bed and it did great. The bed is 2 feet deep and unnecessary to grow lettuce in such a deep bed. I had raised the beds to bring them closer to my waist but that takes a lot of soil which is why I decided to make Table Top Gardens. Now if I could figure out how to make table top gardens out of concrete blocks that would last me for the rest of my life, I would be extremely happy but I haven't figured that out yet.

Why I use plastic= well= mostly cause of peer pressure. Others think the plastic blocks the chemicals in treated wood from getting to your food and some think the plastic blocks any type of micro harmful chemical that would be in the paint, and some of course it would preserve the life of untreated and unpainted wood.
Me, myself and I had rather paint it all with elastomeric which is a rubber roof coating for mobile home roofs. The rain runs off of that roof into garden beds all the time and no body ever says anything but if you want to put it inside the actual bed to save the wood, some folks have a stroke. The elastomeric is also white. And if you had concrete block beds it can be painted on them to help prevent the blocks from heating up.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

2ft deep raised block beds..........they are great but they are not high enough. I will keep these beds but I will not build anymore like them.... but I will be building a wood frame around the top of the bed to bring it up a little higher and closer to my waist

This message was edited Aug 5, 2011 9:00 AM

Thumbnail by CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

another view.

Thumbnail by CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Ok, I bit the bullet. I bought Elastomeric Rubber roof coating to paint my TT gardens with. It cost $23 a gallon at HD. I have enough wood to complete 4 tables. One table is actually 9 feet long x 3 ft wide. The bed for it will be 3x8 with a 1 ft working shelf on the end. I will be painting all the wood before I assemble it. Pics later. I'm off cut wood and paint.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

The tables are a little too tall. I will have to cut 11 inches off the legs to lower the tables.
I asked hubby to buy 1x10s but he got 1x12s. While I was building them I thought , wow this is a deep
10 I got the measuring tape out and they are 1x12s. A little deeper than I wanted.

I also constructed the 8 ft garden bed with a 2x6 in the center to help prevent it from pushing out in the center.
The side boards are also screwed to the table. That white sure is bright. I might paint it with a different color.

This message was edited Aug 7, 2011 4:17 PM

Thumbnail by CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

The 4x4 table. I have to lower it too.

Thumbnail by CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

that's all I made today. It is really hot outside. I am surprised that I got that much done. The other table that I want to work on will be framed with 2x8s. Some wood I already had. I haven't looked at it yet and hope it's not warped.
We already lowered the table legs on the previous two tables. Did that while photos were loading.
I already have the soil to fill the TT gardens with. It is soil that I have in 25 gallon containers. (12 of them).

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

Girl, you truly inspire me to go fire up my Craftsman saw!

You are my Hero(ine)!!

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Thank you Gymgirl. In addition to making table top gardens, I made a chicken coop door for one of the chicken coops.
Can't wait to make compost with all the chicken manure, rabbit manure, goat manure, little horse manure, little cow manure====all to add to the ttgardens in the spring. Excited.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I had hoped to add some raised beds in an area where running bamboo was growing. Unfortunately, the bamboo is growing faster than I can kill it! So I'm intrigued by the idea of table top beds.

My entire gardening area is on a slope. How do I figure out how to cut the legs so the actual raised table top is level? I'm absolutely useless with math!

Also, how about watering these beds? Do they dry out as fast as plastic pots?

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

No, they haven't dried out as fast as pots do. Plus you can mulch them better than you can pots.

I don't know all the methods of Math. But if it were me and I knew exactly where I wanted the bed, I would mark out the area according to how big I wanted the table, drive an iron rod in the ground at all corners or a firm stick. Tie a string from back to front and get it level by using a Line Level or you can use a regular level. After string is tied level , measure the difference between the front legs and the back legs. If the height is 4 inches shorter on the back then that is how much you shorter the back leg will be compared to the front leg. Hope that made sense.

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

Or you could just dig the legs down and call it good.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

CricketsGarden - yes, your explanation did make sense. I can now see in my *mind's eye* how to make the table level. My hubby has a line level. Thank you :)

eweed - I thought of doing it the way you suggested, but the ground is hard red clay and I was concerned the legs would rot if I placed them below ground level. I can put some metal plates on the bottom of the legs to protect them from rot.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Do you find that your roots can grow all the down to the bottom, or does perched water keep air out of the bottom inch or two of soil? Especially if the upper layers compress the mix, and you have lots of rain.

If a soil mix is too fine or too water-retentive, the bottom inch or so may not drain out, which can restrict root depth, at least in small pots and where roots are not vigorous enough to just suck the soil dry despite drainage or "perched water" issues.

One idea to beat that is to drop cotton or rayon wicks from the drainage holes. The wicks pull capilary water down out of the soil, improving aeration and making the whole depth available to the root zone. (A wick adds capillary attraction to gravity, beating surface tension and whatever else contributes to perched water.)

Addititonally, you can build a very slight slope into the bottom, like 1/2" or 1", and then place the wicks at the low edge or low corner.

On the other hand, if your roots are vigorous enough to withstand periodic flooding, that "perched layer" serves as a reservoir to allow you to water less often.


Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Corey. Thank you so much for mentioning the drainage on the TT gardens.
I don't seem to have a water drainage problem in the TT gardens. If I ever have a drainage problem in the future I will certainly give your wicking idea a chance. I think I have drilled enough drain holes to keep the excess water drained. When I cleaned the boxes up and got them ready for carrot seeds, the soil was good in the bottom. I had to dig down deep to dig out the potatoes. Which tasted great too. I will keep an eye on the water perching in the bottom during our rainy season and see how it does. It has been raining all week and now would be a great time to check it out too.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> the soil was good in the bottom.

Bingo! That proves you're in good shape.

>> It has been raining all week and now would be a great time to check it out too.

Even better.

I think that, once roots are well-established and fully deep, they can pull some perched water out, like a man in a flooded phone booth drinking enough water to get his head above water. Seedlings can't do that, but a bed full of potatoes or carrots can.

Probably perched water is a bigger problem in a tiny 2-3 inch deep pot or insert than it is in a deep, wide raised bed. But I was thinking that an 8" deep bed might benefit from every last inch of usable soil.


Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

"Probably perched water is a bigger problem in a tiny 2-3 inch deep pot or insert than it is in a deep, wide raised bed"

Yep, that's correct, Rick. The wider the container the less height to a perched water table. Also, the potting mix/medium comes into play as well.


Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

My mix is promix bx and commerical compost. I liked the commerical compost that I use cause it has small bits of barky wood and some sand in it.

I went out right away and checked all the way to the bottom of the garden box on the deck and it is good soil. Not soggy at all. No water ran when I squeezed the soil and we had hard heavy rain for 4 days off and on.

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

I have been using2" of fine bark mulch in the bottom of my containers because of the funky-wet mess that I found in the big/deep ones. It seems to work OK, but I am going to try the wicking when I get new pots/get back to the states. Thanks, Rick!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

[quote]One idea to beat that is to drop cotton or rayon wicks from the drainage holes[/quote}

Corey - . Would the drainage wicks in table top containers take all the available moisture out? I'm concerned this might lead to having to water the boxes more often. I can see using wicks to draw moisture up from the bottom - I've used a similar idea in potted houseplants in the past. (I don't have houseplants here, our rooms are too dark for them)

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

JuneyBug, you might consider using coarser pine bark mulch. That will have more open space to let air in, and hold less water.

>> Would the drainage wicks in table top containers take all the available moisture out?
>> might lead to having to water the boxes more often.

Yes to both, as long as the bottom layers are NOT currently getting so wet as to drown roots or encourage anerobic fermentaion.

A dangling wick will tend to pull any "loose" water down and out of the box. Like removing water from gaps beteen soil particles, so those gaos can fill with air and permit diffusion of oxygen and CO2. But they can't make those bottom layers dry, just not-drowned.

It's almost like adding the weight of the water column in the wick to the capillary force of the wick pulling against the capilary attraction of the soil mix.

But if the bottom few inches of your bed are serving as a water reservoir by holding so much water that most air is excluded, roots can't grow down that far, which seems very bad iIf a bed is relatively shallow.

On the other-other hand, if your bed is so deep that the roots don't need the bottom few inches of soil, and those inches do serve as a water reservoir, like an Earth Bucket, maybe that's not too bad. But my belief is that anerobic or hypoxic soil is "bad".

If your roots can grow down to the bottom of your bed, you already have enough aeration and don't need to increase drainage. The "wick water out" idea is only desirable if the bottom layers get too water-logged.

Wicks would protect against over-watering a soil mix that was too retentive. Even if you flooded the whole bed excessively, they would speed up the drainage so no roots drowned.

Intermittent water-logging with insufficient draingage may be the worst, because roots would grow down to the bottom while that soil was aerated, and then flooding would drown and kill them, or at least kill their root hairs. That seems like an unhealthy situation for both the plants and the soil.

Another view is that, if you have soggy or stinky soil at the bottom of a bed, what you really need is better-draining soil mix, at least lower down. (BTW, avoid sudden changes in soil texture because that can break the capillary action. If you put coarser mix at the bottom, mix it up a little to make the changeover gradual.)

The best thing is to have soil that holds as much water as practical without excluding air. That's why I like big fibers like medium pine bark chips or grit, and less "fine stuff" like peat moss. (But my experience is with small 3 inch pots and raised beds that sit on the ground, not elevated 3 foot wide raised beds. It's true that perched water is usually less of an issue in large containers than in small ones.

>> I can see using wicks to draw moisture up from the bottom

True, that would provide some deep moisture even between waterings, if your bed is more likely to dry out than to become waterlogged. It sounds to me like this might be the best solution, if it's worth the effort: instead of using the bottom few inches of soil as a possibly-anerobic water reservoir. Put a tub under the bed, and wick clean aerated water up into the soil when the bottom dries out.

You can also park a reservoir above the bed, and use wicks to draw water down to the surface of the soil . Water will flow down faster than up, even in a wick.

Those may all be over-engineering! If your mix has enough "loft" to stay aerated down to the bottom of the bed, and holds enough water that you don't need to water more often than you want to, you don't need tricks, not even watering with a timer.


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