2013 Design of Concrete Block Raised Bed Garden

comments (2) December 17th, 2013

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Troy_R Troy_R, member
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Beginning of season
Midway thru season
Midway thru season
Notice plant in corner closest to you, it is a 4 oclock flower.  I will describe reason in veggie bed in post.
Downside of hanging bird feeders on trellis of bed.  Random plants growing from falling seeds. Here is my unintentional sunflower. Heeehee

After seeing a bunch of folks putting my previous beds on Pinterest I figured Im long overdue for an update.

For those of you finding this post for the first time let me fill you in on the past years experiments.

After years of traditional gardening in my yard I wanted a change.  Tired of weeding, insects, and my male dog doing his stuff on my cucumbers had me looking for a better way.

I decided on building a raised bed.  But out of what?  I put together build lists for a variety of materials including pressure treated lumber, decking, composite decking, regular lumber, and pavers. I found the costs to be more than I felt appropriate for a hobby meant to save money.

Concrete block is the cheapest, at 1.24 for a 8"x8"x16" block.  My first bed was very easy on the budget.  I looked into what to fill it with, and found LOTS of ideas, working on keeping costs low I decided on 100% compost.  Cheap compost can be found at most waste management locations.  Think about it, if you see your neighbors putting their green waste on the curb for the garbage man to pick up, your waste management is making compost.  Ours sells full size pickup bed loads for $15.00.  Great deal.

The concrete blocks are stacked like laying brick with an overlapping pattern.  No mortar is used between the blocks.  This is very handy especially when you decide on a redesign.  The block holds shape fine, I will put some rocks or random pieces of scrap lumber in the corners just for reinforcement, but not needed.  

Another great thing about beds of compost is they stay unpacked.  Since you are not walking on the beds the compost does not compact.  It is not uncommon for me to go out to the bed and plunge my hand right into the bed about a foot and a half down to feel the soil temp.  Try this sometime with a ground garden (no dont, you will break your hand).

This raised bed idea started with a couple beds and grew each year, with this past season being my biggest yet.

For 2013 I consolidated my previous beds into a single grand bed design.  After years of my garden expansion my wife gave me the green light for major yard domination.  Mwaaa haahaa (my evil laugh).

The bed forms a box shape with a seating area in the center and trellis entrance. Herein the Northeast we get attacked by Japanese beetles about midway thru season.  Not wanting to use pesticides I found natures cure (4 O'clock Flowers). I grow these in each corner of the bed.  They serve two purposes.  First, they make the Mrs. happy since they are very pretty, second they kill Japanese beetles.  For the last three years the beetles come, the beetles die, I lose no plants or herbs.  WIN !!!

To make the bed pretty I built a trellis entrance for my cucumbers to climb, and to hang bird feeders.  My birds were happy, but their messy eating habits left me with things growing that I didnt plant.  This is seen in the Sunflower image, that I didnt place there.  But it grew into a pretty flower, so no real harm done.

On the back of the bed I placed a couple small water features from Tractor Supply, just to add some sound.

I realize it not the Ritz, but for a blue collar guy like me, I couldn't be happier.


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Comments (2)

Leigh52 writes: What did you have covered with the wire? Has there been anything that was not happy growing this way? Did you take it down for the winter or how is it holding up so far with this past snow/wind storm? I am in mid Atlantic area. I will have to get my kids to help me. Thanks for doing all the research. Leigh

Posted: 12:48 pm on January 22nd
MommaLeah writes: I was wondering how large an area each of the 4 o'clock plants cover? I really like the confidential idea too. Do you plant in the holes? Im wondering if strawberries would work. I'm also in the NE. Vermont. Leah
Posted: 8:46 am on January 22nd
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