Lee has many plants growing inside her house, but she didn’t have a critter-proof outside space. So we volunteered to build an attached raised bed as Lee already had most of the materials:
Blocks, fiberglass panels for covers and some concrete.
Lee bought some more concrete and 2″ x 3″ x 8′ boards for the covers and we brought screws with grommets, some rebar to keep the blocks in place and hooks so the covers can be opened and secured to the wall.
It took several weeks to build the bed because first we had to decide on the location and then finish the siding for the house where the bed was going to be.
The blocks are half the width of regular blocks and stacking them 3 rows high, we had to put pipes or rebar through every block to keep them from falling over. With regular full sized blocks we only use rebar or stakes in the corners and we use only mud (cob) to fill the blocks. While our dirt doesn’t have a much clay, it’s strong enough for garden beds
Here is Lee filling the blocks:
Lee already has lots of experience working with mud as she built an earth ship. We use only screened dirt (not sand, DIRT), straw and water to mix the mud.
Here you can see that we filled holes with rebar or pipe with concrete and the remaining holes are filled with mud. Jose did an excellent job setting the blocks, pounding in the stakes, mixing mud and concrete and building the covers. Leo helped gather the bricks and Frieda took Lee to town to get materials. Thank you!
Lee put plastic against the house wall and big tiles are in front of the plastic to keep moisture and dirt from the siding. A row of block or backer board would have been better, but then again, it’s easy to replace the siding if it gets damaged.
In the bottom of the bed is some local dirt and towards the top we mixed in wood chips, organic mulch and aged horse manure.
One side is lower than the other to accommodate both root crops and taller plants.
If you leave the roots in the ground instead of pulling entire plants when they’re done producing, the roots decompose and add badly needed organic material to the soil.
We gave Lee some red wiggler worms and if she just grows a lot, she’ll have some pretty good dirt within a season.
This was our first High Desert Gardening Club project and it sure turned out great. Lee has a place to grow salad and herbs and she gave us a pile of cedar posts for our fence and several crates with all sorts of PVC pipe fittings.
Unlike Henderson and Las Vegas, we don’t have community gardens. It’s tough to get a garden going if you live by yourself and you can’t afford to hire someone to do the work. If you need help building a raised bed or a garden, fencing, etc., let’s talk about it at one of our meetings. We hope to help many of our neighbors get started. Lee will be happy to help!