With the theme of nature fresh in my mind, it’s about time that I share one of my favorite projects Dale and I have undertaken since moving into our first house. We built a raised garden bed!
One of the best parts of our new place is its backyard. Not only is it the first yard we’ve had in the six years of living together, it’s huuuuuge. Oh, the possibilities it provides.
With this new addition, Dale and I quickly decided that we would no longer need the plot we rented at our local community garden. The downside of this is that we miss out on the community the shared garden provided. Pulling weeds is much more fun when others are suffering with you. Also, we learned quite a lot from the casual conversations that popped up when fellow gardeners passed by and saw us fretting over limp or otherwise sad plants. There was plenty of gardening inspiration about, from creatively engineered supports for vine plants to gorgeous vegetables I didn’t even think to grow myself. That said, backyard gardening has a special draw. One that involves taking just a couple of barefoot steps out of my door, questionably dressed, to do some morning watering. No more walking/biking/(okay, let’s be honest: driving) to the plot.
It turns out that being a homeowner is expensive. As we planned to create a raised garden bed, we knew we needed to be frugal about it. While a nice, wood bed would certainly be lovely, the upfront estimate was simply more than we had. Plus, we knew we’d have to replace the wood after some time. That is why we turned to cinder block as our main building material. I was doubtful at first about how this would look. But then I realized we could plant things in the little holes created by stacking the bricks. And there’s always the possibility of painting the blocks. (I haven’t done this yet, but it still sounds like a fun idea.)
To create the bed, we carefully selected the most level part of the yard we could find that still got a good amount of sun. Because the area seemed so level, we didn’t need to move much dirt around to create a secure foundation on which to lay the blocks. Next, Dale laid out a large rectangle of bricks in one layer (I’m not going to claim to have helped on this…he’s strong and I’m pregnant.) For the second layer, Dale staggered the bricks for to increase stability. We noticed a little bit of unevenness with the ground on one corner of the structure, so I packed in extra dirt below the blocks to make them more even and stable.
Next came the filling. We used a mix of sandy loam and compost, topped with a couple of bags of soil we had on hand. This time around, we’re growing tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers, sweet peas, broccoli, and cauliflower. Dale also planted a bunch of marigolds and some nasturtiums around the edge. So cute!
Most recently, Dale dug out the grass around the bed and filled it with gravel and round rock. Besides being more friendly for walking around the bed, we’re already finding that this is helping some draining issues we were having with the grass at the bottom of the slope. Plus, it looks quite nice. Good work, Dale!
June 11, 2013 8:41 pm
I’m jealous that you can grow those things right now! Nothing will survive if I plant it now… too hot and wet!
June 13, 2013 3:13 pm
Boo on it being to hot in Florida for planting now. I’m hoping these plants work out, but it’s always a little hit and miss for me. We’ll see.
June 14, 2013 10:18 pm
I LOVE THIS
June 20, 2013 8:14 am
Every time I do anything garden-y, I think “What would Jessica Stokke do?” So I’m glad you like it.
June 19, 2013 9:48 am
Love this! Have been wanting to do something similar.
June 20, 2013 8:15 am
Fantastic! I’d love to hear how it goes!
May 3, 2014 8:47 am
Can you give an idea how much dirt you use to fill it?
June 10, 2014 9:04 am
Hi Debbie, I can’t remember for certain, but we dumped all of our compost and grass clippings in the bottom, then I think we added a half yard of sandy loam. We topped with a could of big bags of topsoil.