Raised Bed Redux
Somewhere between my rapturous exploration of the possibilities of recycled-plastic raised bed kits and now, I had a bit of a revelation. I could subscribe to a pair of organic farm CSA subscriptions for a couple of years for the money I was thinking of spending on raised bed garden kits. "Oh, but they will last for years!" "They are reusable!" and so on. All true. I still want to grow what I want to grow, and I don't eat nearly enough salad to make a CSA subscription as useable as it should be. So I still want raised beds. But I should plan something more affordable, and save the money toward our little patch of land up north someday.
So today I went looking for advice on cinder block raised beds, as I think those might be affordable and easy to build, and have the advantage of holding in heat during the cooler months. In fact, I'm thinking that covering a bed or two with black plastic, and letting it drape over the sides, would really warm up the soil. The blocks are light gray, so I could leave them as-is in the summer, or make a light lime wash to whiten them for maximum reflectivity.
I was browsing today for info on building cinderblock raised beds (for my own garden) and found that a common theme was using them as affordable and sturdy accessible gardening beds. If constructed well, they can be leaned on by gardeners who may need a little extra support when standing up, for instance.
Found lots of good ideas in a cinder block garden advice request from the (fascinating!) Square Foot Gardening forum at GardenWeb. Among the excellent suggestions:
- planting invasive plants such as mint in the holes where they can stay contained
- growing strawberries the same way (I imagine they benefit from the warmth and from being off the ground away from snails)
- nasturtiums and marigolds in the holes, to form a bug-repelling border
- getting cap blocks in a contrasting color instead of planting in the holes
- using more expensive split-face block, which looks much nicer
- lining the bed with sturdy plastic to keep it from drying out quickly