Brian and I spent a large part of early spring building a new garden. Last year, we just tilled part of the back yard and threw some starters in the ground and called it good. The soil isn’t great though, so my garden didn’t do its best and I didn’t even get to hoard enough tomatoes to make sauce. I knew building beds would be expensive because of all of the dirt, so when we got a settlement check from Toyota (what the settlement was for, I don’t remember) for $125, we agreed to put it towards the garden. If you’ve built raised beds, you know that $125 doesn’t cover two cedar beds and a cinder block bed and all of the dirt. So much dirt. We just used basic soil and a little mushroom compost, plus my own compost and I think we spent nearly $100 just on dirt. We bought 24 cinder blocks at a little over $1 each, and I can’t remember how much the wood was but cedar is pricey. The only thing that made it a little better was that Menards was having a rebate promotion for a percentage back, so we were able to mail in a couple of receipts and get ~$20 back in store credit.
The rebate promo was in March, so we bought the wood and blocks then, and Brian built one bed one weekend and the other the next. We were in no hurry since I knew that planting weather was still a ways off. The hardest part was getting the blocks and dirt to the yard, we don’t have an alley or anything and my garden is on the opposite corner away from the gate. So I had to load the blocks onto a moving dollie and pull them. Dollies make moving heavy objects a lot easier, but that ease was kind of negated by the fact that I had to pull the dollie through grass instead of just over pavement. I wanted cinder blocks so I could plant my herbs in the holes on the outside, and if I want to expand it next year I can pretty easily. We went with two layers of bricks so I could plant greens in it from seed and not worry about Harley hopping on top of them to nap. If you want a raised bed but don’t want to mess with cutting wood I would totally recommend cinder blocks, just keep in mind that they are HEAVY, we had to take ours home in two trips, and leveling the ground can be a pain in the ass and then you won’t do it properly and you’ll end up with some crooked bricks that you’ll have to push inward while trying to shovel dirt underneath with your hand, and that dirt will eventually settle and then the blocks will be crooked again. Hypothetically, I mean. That totally did not happen to me.
The greens as of yesterday. As you can see, they’re doing great! I have kale starters, then kale from seed, collards, and two kinds of lettuce that I can’t remember what they are and the seed packet is out of reach. The front and back have basil, basil, more basil, sage, lavender, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. I stuffed the bottom layer of the blocks with old leaves and dirt we dug up to level the ground to help keep the empty ones stable. If you look on Pinterest, there are some really cool looking cinder block beds, you can even make a simple planter out of a couple, paint them, whatever. And you can dismantle them at any time and re-arrange!
And here are the cedar beds, things are starting to flower and i’ve been eating really small strawberries this week but nothing too exciting so far. The far bed is all tomatoes because i’m insane, the closer one is strawberries in the front (I planted four last year just to get them started and transplanted about a dozen into the bed from the babies they made), then peppers and eggplant, then four zucchini plants (I know, why, i’m stupid) watermelon because I thought i’d give that a whirl, and cucumbers in the back. I tend to grow the same basics every year and try one new plant just to see if it’s easy to grow because i’m the laziest gardener ever. Everything is doing great so far, we’ve had a decent amount of rain since I planted a month ago. I hope to have a small jungle by this time next month!
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