• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Anne Miller
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • James Freyr
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
master gardeners:
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • thomas rubino
  • Carla Burke
  • Greg Martin

Cement blocks for raised edges

 
gardener
Posts: 2312
Location: Southern Illinois
384
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello everyone,

So at present I have 3 raised garden beds.  One I raised last spring and filled with woodchips inoculated with wine caps.  The wine caps are doing their job admirably, really breaking down the wood into great compost.  The chip level has dropped considerably so I can see that the fungi are highly active.

This brings me to the main point which is how to keep the raised edges.  Last year I raised the edges with 2x10 lumber painted with a masonry product called drylock which is pretty rot resistant but fairly expensive.  In the end the whole project cost almost $200.

I am not certain how long the wood will last, even with drylock.  I have another bed getting ready and it will be about the same dimensions as the first (8x16).  It needs a raised edge as well and I am thinking of something more permanent.  More specifically I was thinking about using cinder blocks.  I am thinking that I would have to partially burry the first row to make everything level and then add a second level.  

If I go this route, I want to make certain that pieces don’t jut get bumped out of level.  I was thinking about using some type of construction adhesive.  Does anyone know of a good, solid masonry adhesive that won’t cause toxicity for my garden bedding?

Thanks in advance,

Eric
 
master steward
Posts: 6617
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
1879
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Why do they need to be level?  I'm thinking frost heaving will overpower any adhesive you put on them, at least in that application...
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2312
Location: Southern Illinois
384
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Mike,

Around me, the ground freezes about a millimeter thick so there is no real frost heaving.  I just thought I would purdyfy the bed a little bit.

Eric
 
Mike Haasl
master steward
Posts: 6617
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
1879
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ahh, ok.  So if you only care about prettiness, I wouldn't bother with the adhesive.  Just lay them out and if they get wonky, fiddle with them.  Then if you want to rearrange the bed in a few years, the blocks will come apart and fit together for their next use.
 
Posts: 32
Location: Hemingford Nebraska
17
transportation hugelkultur forest garden earthworks building solar
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Would you be able to stand them on end, burying them 1/3 or so?
 
gardener
Posts: 2056
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
735
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pretty is in the eye of the beholder. The white below the blocks in my picture below are paper feed sacks on top of a bunch of small rocks I'd collected as I was digging beds and used here to level the garden to "good enough". That said, I was only leveling an approximately 4 by 8 bed, not larger like Eric is planning.

The layer of 1X4's you see on top of the blocks makes them prettier in my opinion as it blocks the holes. I didn't have enough little rocks to fill all the holes, and I wanted to be able to cover the bed as otherwise tomatoes don't have much of a chance in my climate. I do have an area I raised with something we call "Allen Blocks" and I planted herbs in the holes, but the dirt tends to keep falling out which is a bit of a nuisance. If you go that root route, I'd consider putting a bit of weed barrier cloth in the bottom of each hole and up the edges a little to help keep the dirt in. Those holes are larger than cinder block holes. If you're really just trying to make a cheap raised border, you could consider using a masonry saw to cut the cross piece out of some or most of the blocks so that you have one large hole? Seems like a lot of work, but in my Allen ones I've got chives, oregano, marjorum sage, thyme, rock cress, "hens and chicks", crocus bulbs and some walking onion, so growing in the holes does have some benefit! If I used a different system for covering my next bed, I might consider growing strawberries in the holes, but deer and robins *really* like strawberries so I need decent protection!

The bed got christened "the covered wagon bed" - duh!

What I particularly like is that the blocks are solid and wide enough that I can put a cheek or knee on them to reach the center of the bed easier (I'm fairly small and top heavy.)

The blocks were salvaged by a friend, and he has since salvaged enough for me to make another, but it's been just too wet here to finish projects that were already jamming the queue.
covered-wagon-tomato-bed.jpg
covered wagon tomato bed
covered wagon tomato bed
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2312
Location: Southern Illinois
384
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay,

That little garden of yours looks very nice.  I actually have plans for something similar but on a larger scale.  I particularly love the top board covering the holes, something nice to sit on.  Alternatively, if I were to adopt your plan, I might have to plan for a series of gates to keep the deer out.

On my raised bed that I made last spring I have the beginnings of a series of gates.  The reason is our deer population.  Typically, at any given point in time there are usually 4 deer somewhere on our 9 acres.  I think it is a doe, a yearling and two fawns.  This last week that number has swelled to fifteen!  Anything not corralled off will fall victim to hungry deer.

At any rate, I could totally see using your technique adapted to fence off hungry deer.

Eric
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 2056
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
735
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, I've seen a very similar type of hoop covered with chicken wire to stop deer. I believe they used PVC whereas the hoops I was indefinitely loaned are conduit for electrical cables (there are initials for that, but I think I'm thinking of the wrong ones at the moment.) Unfortunately the person who bent that set for my friend is long gone and buying the equipment is rather pricey, so we've stalled on the idea. I'd like to raise it again with hubby, as in a sense it would be a community resource if I bent hoops for others. The more food that is grown locally, the better (in my not-so-humble opinion!) I could bend more out of PVC, but that stuff has environmental drawbacks and wouldn't be as strong or stable without some sort of cross bracing.

The hoops slide over pieces of rebar with a hose clamp to hold them at the same height. If you use rebar which isn't covered, consider finding a tennis club and asking for worn out tennis balls - cut a hole and put it over the top of the rebar so if someone falls on it, they won't be hurt. It all depends what height the rebar ends up when installed, but you don't want you or anyone else poking an eye out!

The trick with everything is how to make things as convenient as possible. I'd like a large area with deer and raccoon proof fencing and the option of fencing off sections of the internal space so that chickens or ducks could forage the paths at times to keep the slugs under control without harming the crops too badly. It's all about keeping the big picture flexible and balanced. I tried to grow a polyculture in that bed last year, but the tomatoes were critical and they were so happy that really only the basil that was at the very south gave me a crop. The sweet peppers and walking onion just didn't get enough sun to prosper. Sun is my limiting factor due to shade from trees, many of which I can't remove. I planted 8 tomatoes last year, and I'm waffling whether to try 8 again, or reduce to 6.  If I did 6, I could maybe put some carrot seed in around them as they're supposed to be good friends, but I really like homegrown tomatoes, so it's a tough call!
 
Posts: 50
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This got me thinking, blocks are possible to take with you if you  have to go
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 2056
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
735
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

paul salvaterra wrote:This got me thinking, blocks are possible to take with you if you  have to go

Technically yes, but they're heavy so if you've got a substantial number (I used about 40 for the bed shown above) you're going to need a substantial vehicle +/- multiple trips to do so.
 
It sure was nice of your sister to lend us her car. Let's show our appreciation by sharing this tiny ad:
HARDY FRUIT TREES FOR ORGANIC AND PERMACULTURE
https://permies.com/t/132540/HARDY-FRUIT-TREES-ORGANIC-PERMACULTURE
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!