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Fri Aug 22, 2014, 09:21 PM

low-cost easy raised garden beds?

I need to build a raised garden bed for some lowbush blueberry plants.

They were planted this spring in a 4x4 ft cedar raised bed (a kit I got at Home Depot) with some wild native strawberries.

However, the strawberry plants have been growing quite enthusiastically and are taking over the 4x4 ft bed. The blueberry bushes are looking pretty sad, and I really should transfer them soon if i want to save them.

I'd like to build something that's 2-3 ft wide and 6-8 ft long, and at least 1 ft high. The plan is to protect the plants from deer using PVC hoop covers. Or something ...

I don't have a lot of time to construct it. The logistics for a wood raised bed are too difficult right now. So I was thinking of using 16x8x8 in. cinder blocks, stacked twice, to give 16 inches of height. My concern is stability; is there some way to secure the blocks with a cement-type glue, or is staggered stacking enough?

Are there other low-cost suggestions? I need something that's fast, easy and cheap, and it doesn't have to be permanent.

Someday, when I have more time to make mistakes and re-do it until I get it right, I'll make some nice cedar raised beds.

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply low-cost easy raised garden beds? (Original post)
shireen Aug 2014 OP
Arkansas Granny Aug 2014 #1
shireen Aug 2014 #2
shraby Aug 2014 #4
shireen Aug 2014 #8
LiberalEsto Aug 2014 #3
shireen Aug 2014 #9
csziggy Aug 2014 #5
shireen Aug 2014 #10
csziggy Aug 2014 #12
shireen Aug 2014 #16
csziggy Aug 2014 #18
Major Nikon Aug 2014 #6
shireen Aug 2014 #11
NJCher Aug 2014 #7
shireen Aug 2014 #13
jtuck004 Aug 2014 #14
shireen Aug 2014 #15
jtuck004 Aug 2014 #17

Response to shireen (Original post)

Fri Aug 22, 2014, 09:44 PM

1. If you are just going two layers with the blocks, you probably won't need anything,

but I was watching a diy show the other day and they were using an adhesive between layers of retaining wall blocks. If you felt the need to use something, you could probably find it at a Lowe's or Home Depot or similar store.

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Response to Arkansas Granny (Reply #1)

Fri Aug 22, 2014, 10:07 PM

2. thank you!

If you think two staggered layers without adhesive would work, that's great to know. It would give me some flexibility in size of the bed, and take it down when i get a better bed built next year.



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Response to shireen (Reply #2)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 12:41 AM

4. We have 2 large composts that are 4 ft. high by 4 ft. wide by 6 ft. long.

We use no mortar or anything because once ever couple of years we take one side down and use the compost out of it. The rest stays together real nice and doesn't lean at all. We've had 1 for over 15 years, and the other one we built about 3 years ago. The whole thing has a floor of patio blocks and they are built on those.
Raised planting beds without any mortar or anything should hold up good. Just put some patio blocks down for a flat base for them.

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Response to shraby (Reply #4)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 10:37 PM

8. thanks Shraby

good to know they're so sturdy. Good tip on the patio blocks too!


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Response to shireen (Original post)

Fri Aug 22, 2014, 11:21 PM

3. Rebar

 

Get 36-inch pieces of rebar and hammer one into each cinderblock hole.

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Response to LiberalEsto (Reply #3)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 10:38 PM

9. nice idea!

Thanks LiberalEsto.

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Response to shireen (Original post)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 01:48 AM

5. Straw bale raised beds

http://modernfarmer.com/2013/07/straw-bale-gardening/

Easy to set up, adds compost for future beds. With the T-posts for trellis, you can add some for fencing and netting over the top.

You could start the straw bales then add the concrete blocks for future raised beds and just continue to add compost and soil.

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Response to csziggy (Reply #5)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 10:46 PM

10. intriguing idea

but i don't think i have time to find a farm that sells straw bales. Besides, my blueberries need acidic soil so I'm not sure how they'll take to a straw substrate. Cool idea for vegetable gardens.

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Response to shireen (Reply #10)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 11:07 PM

12. If you are not totally invested in organic farm stores sell straw

I have horses, so getting straw and hay is easy. Hay is not a good idea for the bale gardens because the grass tends to have more seed.

Depending on how things go this fall and winter, I may try some straw bale beds next spring. I have flower beds to dig out and re-plant, some old bulbs that need to be dug from our hold house site and moved to the new one, and some terracing that needs to be redone.

We're like you are - lots of deer and other critters just aching to get into our beds. I had to give up on pansies in my flower beds - they're just snacks for the deer. And I have to plan what to plant other places because the squirrels and armadillos will get into them. If I want to grow vegetables, I will have to put up an electric perimeter fence. That would give me a place to put my bird feeders where the deer and raccoons can't get to them, but I'd also have to defend the vegetables from the birds.

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Response to csziggy (Reply #12)

Sun Aug 24, 2014, 12:30 PM

16. Thanks for noting that distinction

I'm so clueless! LOL! I had no idea hay and straw are different.

The deer drive me nuts. They even nibble on the deer-resistant plants I've lovingly grown. I'd like to set up a deer fence but it costs too much right now. I don't want to exclude rabbits (easier to protect plants from them) and foxes from the yard. The goal is a small vegetable garden, but I want to create a wildlife habitat using native plants in the yard, except for those pesky deer.

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Response to shireen (Reply #16)

Sun Aug 24, 2014, 04:58 PM

18. More info on straw vs. hay

Most hays are cured grass though some places may have "meadow hay" that can be other plants. When cutting hay, they don't worry about having the seeds left on - seeds add nutrition and don't harm the animals that eat the hay. The seeds will sprout and once established, pasture grass is very hard to eradicate.

Straw is the stems of wheat, oat, or rye after the grain has been harvested. They really don't want to leave the grain heads on the straw - grain is too valuable and while straw is generally not intended to be eaten, animals do tend to nibble it. Some of the grains have husks or fibers that can be harmful to the animals, especially to horses.

I have problems with the deer - they come right up to the house to eat out of the bird feeders. I moved the feeders closer, next to a walkway, so they are four feet outside my window. The deer will come right up and are very bold and unafraid. I've opened the window to yell at them, and they just look at me like, "Hey, shut up - we're eating here!" They come up day or night, but eat more at night. So if I want to feed the birds without letting the deer eat 2-40 pounds of seed a night, I have to bring the feeders in every single night.

The raccoons are worse - they climb up the poles and knock the feeders to the ground to empty them. They'll even do it with hummingbird feeders. Then that attracts the opossums and foxes. Plus the raccoons fight with the cat and I worry about them learning how to get in through the cat door.

It's my own fault - the site where we built our new house was a grazing and hunting area for all the animals for over thirty years and we were careful to not disturb them. Then we plunk a house down in the middle of their territory and expect the animals to move on off. No matter than they have the rest of the 60 acres to roam in - they like this spot!

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Response to shireen (Original post)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 06:27 AM

6. You don't need to frame them at all

The simplest raised beds have no frames at all. It's just a matter of adding improved soil on top of your existing space. Just add straw or mulch around the border to limit erosion. At my last house, that's pretty much how I did my raised beds except I installed some metal edging because I had Bermuda grass which is pretty invasive.

Hoop covers are pretty easy to make. Just drive sections of rebar into the soil about a foot or so and put PVC or thinwall metal conduit over it and bend them to make a hoop.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #6)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 10:57 PM

11. Thanks Major

In reading about raised beds for blueberries, i get the impression that the beds should be at least a foot high. I'm a bit concerned about erosion. But it's certainly the easiest thing to do.

Thanks for the idea. I'll try a test plot to see how i feel about it.

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Response to shireen (Original post)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 02:09 PM

7. I have ideas

but no time to post right now. I do have some questions that may help me answer better, which will be tomorrow, after I get a dinner party over with:

a) what state or growing zone are you in?

b) why do you think they need to be a foot deep?

I have 12 raised beds and recently repaired mine, which were put in 17 years ago! Pine lasted that long. Amazing.



Cher

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Response to NJCher (Reply #7)

Sat Aug 23, 2014, 11:19 PM

13. Hi NJCher

(a) 7a
(b) based on advice for blueberry plant beds i've been reading about.

Wow! 17 years for untreated pine is pretty impressive.

I don't want to deal with wood construction right now. I can never get the sides to come out at a 90 degree angle, it's quite pathetic! LOL!

I think I'll look into Major Nikon's borderless beds, and if I don't think it's right for my situation, i'll try the cinder blocks.

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Response to shireen (Original post)

Sun Aug 24, 2014, 04:18 AM

14. Set it in place, fill it with dirt and plants, water it. They will self prune.

 


Still probably have to weed the grass, however.

http://www.lgrmag.com/fabric-raised-bed


New product, I think. It is manufactured in Oklahama City I believe. It is starting to appear for sale in many hydroponics stores around here in NE Washington State.

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Response to jtuck004 (Reply #14)

Sun Aug 24, 2014, 12:22 PM

15. like!

Thanks for that tip. It looks like a supereasy setup. My only concern is that earthworms can't get past the fabric. Otherwise, it's very nice.

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Response to shireen (Reply #15)

Sun Aug 24, 2014, 01:23 PM

17. If there aren't holes in the bottom, maybe could add a couple. Maybe give them an out.

 


Or could dump a handful of red wigglers in the top after planting, and pick a spot where you could feed them some scraps and brown stuff once in a while. Those would leave castings throughout and return for food to that spot. Those don't live that deep, and might be happy in the larger of these, if there is food for them. I have seen a piece of 4-6" PVC stuck in a bed, with some bedding and food dropped in, then worms. Then they just toss some food scraps down there on occasion, and keep a rain cover on it. The worms seem to gather around it.

One of the reasons I want to try it the beds (I think the retail on that is $40) is that I have major problems with crabgrass getting into my raised beds. I am having to rebuild them to remove it. It may be that this won't let it grow in from the sides. I am going to try one.

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