Do you love to garden but have not-so-great soil? Limited Space? Back problems? Then a Raised Bed Garden might be the perfect solution to your problem!
There are many advantages to have a raised bed garden-
You can choose from many different materials to construct your raised bed garden from. You can use red cedar or fancy stone blocks. You can choose a more rustic look and create it from treated lumber or old styled barn wood. Some people have even used old railroad ties, but these have the sticky creosote residue, (not to mention contain arsenic) so we don't recommend using them. There are also manufactured kits that you can purchase to make a raised bed frame. Here are a few examples...
Since a raised bed using the concrete cinder blocks is quick and easy that is the method we will be discussing in this article.
What you need:
Prep the area:
1) Decide where you would like to have your raised bed at. Make sure you can move around all sides easily.
2) Try to pick a place that is relatively level. If its to lumpy. you'll have to level it out.
3) Spray the area with a good herbicide. We recommend Hi-Yield Kill-z-All. You will have to wait a few days after you apply the herbicide so you can make sure you have effectively killed out all of the weeds. The more you make sure in this step, the less weeds that will make it through to the top of your bed.
4) Use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the native soil to a depth of 6-10". This will improve drainage and moisture retention in your raised beds. It also means that even with a simple 8" high raised bed, your plants will think they're growing in a bed 12-18" deep! This makes for plenty of room for carrots, potatoes and great tomato plants!
Building the bed:
1) Start out at one end by laying 2 blocks end to end. Then form your corners by laying a block with its side in line with the end of the first 2 blocks you placed.
2) Next start laying bricks down to make the sides of the bed. You will use 8 blocks on each side. Use your tape measure to make sure you are keeping the blocks the same distance apart. Once you get to the end, leave it open so you can wheelbarrow your dirt in easier.
3) At this step, if you want to add another row or 2 of blocks you can before we cloes up the end. That way you can add enough compost/soil with the wheelbarrow.
4) Now build up your end and fill in the rest with your compost/soil so the whole bed is filled almost to the top. You can either cover the top of the concrete blocks with matching concrete caps or leave them open to plant goodies like herbs and strawberries in the holes. If you decide to actually use them, make sure to fill them with compost/soil as well.
A few words about compost/soil:
Good soil is the single most important ingredient for a great garden. Raised beds give you an immediate advantage over a regular garden, because you can fill it with a blend of soil that is superior to the native soil in your yard. Or sand as we have here in East Texas!
The more organic matter that you can include in your compost/soil mixture the better it will be for your plants. Soil microbes are fed to them, oxygen and water will readily reach the roots and your plants will thrive.
For most raised beds we recommend using-
10% growing mix that contains peat moss and/or vermiculite.
Make sure your peat moss does not go over 20% of the total mixture. Peat moss is naturally acidic and is not good for growing vegetables.