Are you building a raised bed garden, or are you looking to improve your raised bed crops? You have come to the right place. Earlier this year, I invited my email group to send me any questions they would like me to answer on the topic of raised bed gardening. Little did I expect the flood of responses I received. As a long-time raised bed gardener, I am thrilled to see how many of you are looking to start your raised beds for the very first time — and want to make sure you get off on the right foot.
WATCH RELATED VIDEO: Grow your own vegetablesContent:
- Right crop, right place: choosing what goes where in your veg patch
- Create a Square-Foot, High-Yield Vegetable Garden
- 20 Easiest Vegetables to Grow in Raised Garden Beds Or containers
- Gardening Tips on Layout & Planning for Your First Vegetable Garden
- 8 Vegetable Garden Layout Plans to Boost Your Homegrown Harvests
- How to Plant a Vegetable Garden
- How to Build a Cinder Block Raised Garden Bed
- Fresh Start
- What are the benefits of raised beds and how can I construct one myself?
Right crop, right place: choosing what goes where in your veg patch
Is it safe to use cinder blocks in a raised bed, or might chemicals from the concrete blocks leach out of the blocks to contaminate your soil and food plants you grow there? John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County, responded to my questions on soil safety.
I have seen warnings on the Internet that cinder blocks or concrete blocks used in a garden might leach harmful chemicals into the soil and ultimately into your food plants. He found universities recommending the use of concrete blocks in container gardens or raised beds. The concern cited in many warnings is specifically fly ash, the residue you get from burning coal, that might have been used in older cinder blocks, but he doubts whether that is commonly used anymore.
However, one thing you should take into consideration when using old bricks, old concrete blocks or other recycled material is where those materials came from, he said. The materials may have been resting in soil that was contaminated with chemicals. If you go to this product page at home depot for a 16 in. If so, how much? Fly ash is a recycled green product and is requested from some builders because they have green criteria they would like to meet — LEED certification, reduce CO2 emissions, etc.
John Farfaglia looked into this more and said that there probably needs to be more research on this. If you are concerned, you could get your soil tested for heavy metals. Naturally rot-resistant wood like cedar or redwood is the best choice for raised bed construction for gardeners that have concerns regarding any possibility of exposure of chemicals in the building materials.
Farfaglia also sent along information from the University of Maryland Extension: Cement block, cinder block and concrete block all are made with cement and fine aggregates such as sand or small stones. Fly ash is also often included.
Fly ash is a byproduct of burning coal and so contains heavy metals and other hazardous waste. Labels do not give specific information on exactly what aggregate is used in the manufacture of the block. There is also little research data on this topic. Ultimately, this becomes a personal choice based on your comfort level. If you plan to use block as a raised bed material — and many people do — and you are concerned about potential risks, you could seal the blocks with polymer paint.
Or you can choose to use another material. Farfaglia said people often ask about using treated lumber for raised beds. The risk of using new treated lumber is low, but he still recommends using natural wood such as cedar to be safe. As added protection, when growing food in a raised bed, you can line the bed with plastic to act as a barrier from any chemicals that might leach into the soil from the building materials. Use a thick gauge plastic, like 6 mil, Farfaglia said.
Awhile back, we told you about one local gardener who plants herbs in her hellstrip , the area between the road and sidewalk, but a reader commented that he would be wary of eating food planted there. That area can contain residues from salt and other chemicals used on the road, and there may be a higher concentration of lead still there from auto exhaust. You should also be wary of beds near the foundation of an older home that may be contaminated with lead from paint that flaked off and accumulated in the soil, he noted.
If your soil is contaminated, rinsing your herbs or vegetables might not be enough to get rid of the contamination. How big the risk is depends on many factors, including how high the concentration of the contaminant is, how often you eat the food and how you cook it.
Joe, thanks for the kind words. Your question seems to be whether concrete will make nearby soil more alkaline. The article says this happens especially with acid rain. We could discuss how acidic the rain is in Western New York, whether the amount of rain we get flushes the soil and keeps the pH level more neutral, etc. Then choose plants that work with that pH level, whether it is alkaline, acidic or neutral.
Contact the Cornell Cooperative Extension in your area to find out how you can get a pH test. During the pandemic, you may have to mail in a soil sample rather than have a test done at their office, during a garden walk or other event.
See contact info here. And if you really want to know the likelihood of lime being released from concrete when it rains, ask the Master Gardeners. They may be able to dig up that information for you.
I have always heard that soil near foundations or concrete driveways is more alkaline because of rain runoff. Perhaps this is not technically leaching. This website seems to support this theory. I respect your opinion. Melissa, John Farfaglia recommends that when you use old bricks, you consider where those materials came from. Does anyone know if there is an issue building a bed with recycled red brick, set with your run-of-the-mill mortar mix? I came into a wealth of unused brick and cinder blocks that were purchased likely some 25 to 35 years ago.
Thanks to all the knowledgeable gardeners out there! For more on sand versus compost in clay, see this article and the comments under the article: Clay soil: compost is better than sand. Lloyd, I just re-read your comment. Are you planting shrubs in the small holes of a cinder block? The roots of the shrub could indeed crack the block.
Are you using leftover cinder blocks or are you going to plant in blocks that are part of your patio? If you want to plant in blocks that are part of your structure, definitely listen to the advice of building experts. I had incredible problems due to clay soil. There is nothing easier to cure than clay. Just add sand, lots of sand. End of all clay soil problems, almost immediately. It is mixed with water to form mortar or mixed with sand, gravel, and water to make concrete.
My garden is now 33 years old. I've enlarged the garden, and the first thing I do is add sand, lots of sand. Of course, organic material is vital. I've got the finest loam you'll ever see. I've shared this with many friends. Everyone who has tried it has has the same results. One friend way overdid it. An older than me gentleman, he added six tons to a smaller area than mine and had a guy come in and rotor-till his new garden.
He planted nothing but peas the first year. I have never seen such yields! If you have clay problems SAND is the immediate and lasting answer! Then, incorporate organic material. Leia, thanks for sharing. The concern is that there may be toxins in the cinder blocks that get into the vegetables. I grew carrots in Michigan o e season in clay soil. No problems with water build up or cracking.
Just get a long concrete bit.. I grow flowers in those raised beds and food in the cedar beds or ground. I started off buying expensive cedar and changed to cedar fence pickets not treated. Hope this helps. Thanks Connie — local brickie said it could be an issue! Have a raised patio as I built my house on a slope, so plan to plant evergreen bushes in the hollow blocks to produce a boundary.
Thank you for replying. Is there an issue with cracking of the concrete from expansion due to moisture freezing within the blocks? But sometimes people want a raised bed that is deep, but not wide. You can make a raised bed with just good dirt.
Just a thought. Wendi, the best thing for you to do would be to contact the extension service in your area. They can give you advice for what would work in your region. I hope that helps! I have a raised bed made of cinder blocks 3 blocks high so I can sit on it easily. Do you think that all that cement heats the soil more than a cedar raised bed would? Would it be better to cover the holes, fill the holes with dirt or leave open to keep it cooler? Thank you in advance for any help or advice.
To Chuckers: Clay tends to have a high mineral content which is great for plants. The problem with clay is that plant roots have a hard time penetrating it, thus the poor growing condition of pure clay. However, if you break the clay up and add organic matter, then you get the best of both worlds. The roots can get through the soil to grow and feed the plant and they can wrap around the clay to extract some of those excellent minerals.
The clay content just cannot be too high. Keep breaking the clay up and keep mixing in leaves, compost, etc.
Create a Square-Foot, High-Yield Vegetable Garden
Installing a vegetable garden where there are tree roots in the soil is never a good idea, because the roots will quickly invade, stealing water and minerals from the vegetables, rendering planting and hoeing difficult, and making harvesting root vegetables next to impossible. And you have to put a good distance between the garden and the tree, as its roots can easily extend twice as far as its longest branches. Here are 7 possible solutions:. If you start to grow your vegetables in pots I recommend recycling used plastic buckets for this purpose and you give the pots a quarter turn 3 or 4 times during the summer, this will tear off invading tree roots yes, they will try to work their way in through the drainage holes before they can do any damage. Or place the pots on a section of geotextile to stop the roots entirely. At least the side where the roots come from. A trench about 1 foot 30 cm deep is usually enough, because the tree roots tend to grow near the surface, especially those that are far from the trunk.
Plant vegetables adjacent to each other which Vegetable transplants can be purchased at garden stores, wood, lumber, blocks or rocks.
20 Easiest Vegetables to Grow in Raised Garden Beds Or containers
Interest in starting a home vegetable garden has been spurred on by food scarcity or uncertainty related to the ongoing COVID pandemic. Joe Masabni, Ph. He also has easy-to-follow tips for beginners to protect and provide for plants. But the gardening part takes a commitment to the plants if you want to be successful. Pick an area that gets a good amount of sun, he said. Full sun, or morning sun and some afternoon shade are best. Start by building raised beds , Masabni said.
Gardening Tips on Layout & Planning for Your First Vegetable Garden
Imagine; a hearty minestrone soup filled with broccoli and beans sourced solely from a backyard vegetable patch! If this sounds like your flavour, our how-to guide on how to make a backyard vegetable garden has outlined every step with simplicity, broken down into 5 main stages:. A patch requires at least five hours of sunlight per day, so pick a spot for your backyard vegetable patch that receives ample amounts of natural light. Direct sunlight helps to create disease-resistant plants and sweeter flavoured carrots, tomatoes, chillies and onions. The amount of sunlight your vegetables receive will also be determined by the direction of your patch.
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8 Vegetable Garden Layout Plans to Boost Your Homegrown Harvests
When starting a community or school garden, the first thought often turns to the building of raised beds. In the context of community and school gardens, the term "raised bed" refers to an elevated box that is relatively small in size and filled with enough soil to support plants without using the soil underneath the box. A raised bed frame can be made of wood, masonry or other building material. Raised beds can vary in size depending on the site, the materials used in their construction and gardeners' preferences. Raised beds are typically 6 to 8 inches high, 3 to 6 feet wide and 6 to 8 feet long.
How to Plant a Vegetable Garden
Out of all of the images that will be presented below, the idea that really melts my heart is the tenth one that we will examine on the list. The cinder blocks are placed in the garden in a manner that the different heights give the area a look that sports many different levels and angles. Creating a garden that is more than a simple square is a great way to show personality in your backyard. The other one that really stands out to me in this list is the 14th idea on this list. It is a solid wall that is created from cinder blocks, but certain ones are placed so that one side sticks out from the wall. This leaves the hole in the cinder block outside of the wall, which means that the open area can be filled with dirt and used as a planter.
If you would like to create a vegetable garden but aren't sure where to start, these free plans will get you on track to grow a healthy.
How to Build a Cinder Block Raised Garden Bed
The layout of your crisis garden, now that the location is fixed, will primarily be determined by the size and shape of the land you have available. In this post, I want to outline a three-step permaculture design method for creating the best layout for your crisis garden. Here is some brief information about each of them:.
Fresh StartRELATED VIDEO: 12 Perfect Vegetables To Grow in a Shady Garden Space
One of the things I look forward to every spring is planting my vegetable garden. It is so fun and rewarding to see your plants grow and to harvest and enjoy the results come late summer. And this year, garden centers are saying that there is a surge of interest in vegetable gardening resulting from the COVID situation. There could be a variety of reasons for this, including uncertainties about what will be available at grocery stores; people looking for new hobbies they can do at home; or as a learning experience for children. There are additional considerations if you live at higher elevations, as well. For tips on these, see Colorado Mountain Gardening Basics.
More and more of us are growing our vegetables in raised beds. Check out these 12 top tips to make sure a raised vegetable patch is right for your garden.
What are the benefits of raised beds and how can I construct one myself?
Happy DIY Home. Growing your own vegetables is a great way to get outside, stay active, and feed your family delicious, nutritious veggies all summer long. Luckily there are ways around that! Growing a beautiful vegetable garden in a small space is possible. The phrase square foot gardening comes from a book written by Mel Bartholomew. The idea is that instead of a huge plot of land with various vegetables grown in rows that are spaced one to two feet apart, you separate your plot into square feet.
Home » Seasonal. The year got many people interested in growing and managing their own food. We answered a number of questions about gardening, companion planting, raising chickens and goats, and much more. Depending on your gardening style, the coming months could involve lots of preparation, like organizing your tools and purchasing new ones, securing a source of nutrient rich compost, starting and caring for your seedlings, and finally tilling and prepping your soil for planting.