• 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 pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • r ranson
  • Nancy Reading
  • Anne Miller
  • Jay Angler
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Nicole Alderman
master gardeners:
  • Christopher Weeks
  • Timothy Norton
gardeners:
  • Matt McSpadden
  • Rachel Lindsay
  • Jeremy VanGelder

Quikrete or concrete in raised bed construction

 
Posts: 4
Location: Cumming, Georgia
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Folks:
In my vegetable garden I use 8-10 inch high raised beds with hardware cloth underneath primarily to defend against voles.  Wood sides do not last but a few years in my woodchipped garden space.  I'm considering concrete sides as an alternative.  I have experimented with concrete blocks, but they are overkill.  Seems like I could make some thinner walls using a form and Quikrete or another concrete mix.  Should I be worried about contaminating my soil?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
Rob
 
pollinator
Posts: 5168
Location: Bendigo , Australia
429
plumbing earthworks bee building homestead greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Can you use steel, such as roofing iron cut to the height you want, and held in place with star or T pickets?
Also, quik crete would be very expensive to use and concrete mix to be good value needs to be mixed, and I guess you need a fair bit so bulk sand and screenings, bagged cement and a concrete mixer would be needed.
Why is 2" wood not good enough?
 
master steward
Posts: 6337
Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland. Nearly 70 inches rain a year
3050
4
transportation dog forest garden foraging trees books food preservation woodworking wood heat rocket stoves ungarbage
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't think concrete is particularly a thing to be worried about in the garden. In my opinion the main problems with it relate to the manufacture and distribution of it as a material - high embodied energy and pollution of heavy metals near the manufacturing plants. When trying to find some useful information for you I found quite a few papers on using cement to stabilise metal contamination of polluted soils, which implies that the concrete itself would not be a problem.
You could check this thread out: https://permies.com/t/83626/Making-raised-bed-edges for other suggestions. One way to reduce the amount of concrete required is to use it to fix stones or reclaimed building materials perhaps.

(edited for grammar)
 
pollinator
Posts: 1595
Location: Ashhurst New Zealand (Cfb - oceanic temperate)
493
duck trees chicken cooking wood heat woodworking homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We've moved to large rocks and lime mortar for many of our beds. There's also the option of hypertufa, which is a sort of low-cost concrete. We make ours with crushed lime rock, lime putty, and wood ash. By making a stiff mixture, it can be either troweled on in layers, built up in successive days, or formed. My standard mix is 6 parts aggregate, 2 parts lime putty, and 1 part ash.

The finished product is a bit soft but hardens with time. In our climate it grows a nice coat of moss and liverworts. You can add a little portland cement to make it more durable and speed setting. When you demolish it, the pieces can be broken up and used for aggregate or as a soil amendment where calcium is needed.
 
Posts: 34
Location: Central MN
5
2
foraging books cooking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Might I ask what type of wood you have tried in the past? I wonder whether some especially rot-resistant species like cypress or teak would be worth sourcing.
 
Posts: 324
Location: Tip of the Mitt, Michigan
43
monies cooking building
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi, If you have access to lots of rocks then by making the chinese motar with sticky rice and lime it would be cheaper and more earth friendly.  
 
gardener
Posts: 5035
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
954
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Rob!
I struggle with this durability problem myself.
You might want to consider cement board, or large tiles, if you can get them cheaply.
I have used each of these to good effect.
Concrete in the garden should be fine.
For casting your own walls, there is this series of videos that go into great detail on various mixtures and how to:


 
gardener
Posts: 5256
Location: Southern Illinois
1368
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ditto what Nancy said.

Most cement is a mixture of oxides of Calcium, Silicon, Aluminum and Iron.  By itself, that is pretty benign stuff.  She is right about the embodied energy, but if you have some stuff laying around, why not use it?

Eric
 
Rob Chambers
Posts: 4
Location: Cumming, Georgia
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for your suggestions folks!  Very helpful ideas!
To answer your questions, pine is the affordable wood in my area and it does not hold up in my humid environment beyond a few years.
Thanks again!  Rob
 
Beauty is in the eye of the tiny ad.
full time farm crew job w/ housing
https://permies.com/t/178213/jobs-offered/experiences/full-time-farm-crew-member
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic