Hi, Square-Footers! I want to build "square" foot beds from cinder blocks (must be thrifty this year, & not good with cutting lumber and drilling).  The closest I can come to a 3x3 (nine square) or 4x4 (sixteen square) foot area for planting, using standard 8x8x16 cinder blocks, is to lay four blocks end-to-end north & south side, and five blocks east-west, set outside (flanking) the north-south ones. However, then my squares can only be sixteen 8-inch squares, or nine 10.6 inch squares.  I'd like to purchase trellises, grids & supports that are easily obtainable for 4x4 raised bed gardens, but these won't quite work...  Do any of you have cinder block configurations and, if so, what dimensions/block layouts are you using? Have you been happy with using cinder blocks?  Pros/Cons?

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Have fun trying to keep your blocks straight and level.

Hi Bridget,  I don't think the exact dimensions are all that important.  I would you could make adjustments for the differences.  I've actually square foot gardened but have built raised planters completely off the ground made with 2X8s held up with 4X4 posts 40" off the ground.  Growing lettuce, onions, garlic, radish, arugula, spinach and cilantro in them.  Here's a pic of one. 

Vicky, thanks for your comment. Yes, I HAVE wondered if cinder blocks will stay put.  I've thought of perhaps digging & placing a base layer of blocks 4" (halfway) into ground, to set & level them, then laying another set atop those.  I'd also like to make corner 'perching' seating on two corners to make it easy to straddle the bed for weeding & maintaining...

Wow, this is a great idea!  I've seen a few tabletop setups in gardening catalogs (priced at $300-some)  You're lucky to have building skills and tools.  Is your wood cedar?  Thanks for sharing photo.

I was talking about when putting them in I have some at the back of the yard to keep dirt away from neighbor's fence. You could level and add a layer of crushed rock and sand like you lay pavers but it isn't that improtant that they are perfect just tedious getting them in. I suggest you for sure use the blocks that are closed and smooth on the ends not open ended things, I had what ever I could find. I then filled the holes with dirt too. You can plant some stuff like chives in the holes if you wish but they dry out fast.

No, Bridget, It's just untreated pine 2X8" X8'.  The 4X4 posts are some I already had, the bottom is 1/2" hardware cloth supported by scrap 2x2 or 2X4 boards (make sure no knots in them as).  I cover the hardware cloth with cardboard or several layers of newspaper.  The fill is mostly from a old pile of mulch that was mostly composted.  This ones in it's second year.  Cedar would last a lot longer but is way more expensive so I didn't want to use it for my first few.  Thanks for your comment.  Good luck with your garden.  I always have fun trying new things.  Just for fun, you might want to check out www.debtolman.com  and her Keyhole Garden idea. 

Bridget, you have a very well thought out plan!  The cinder blocks will stay put if you lay an even trench for foundation with the first row. I've done a bed that way and it's working nicely.  (Even when the cats n' critters try to stick their paws down into the holes!)  I have filled some of the holes with dirt and planted flowers and some veggies in them.  They make nice cubbies for my hand tools, too.

I like your idea for making a corner perch for sitting, I may try to add that on to mine.  Thanks!

 

Bridget, Cedar, black walnut, and treated woods (especially those treated with creosote) leach into the soil and affect the plants in direct vicinity, so you wouldn't want to use them for beds.... 

Bridget, I know it is late in the season for this comment, but I wanted to share with you and everyone else how I managed to make my Square foot garden. It does require a little bit of cutting and a little bit of drilling but it is really cheap in comparison to buying these beds on-line.

I purchased ...planky board I belive it is called. 12 foot strips of a material that is esentially planks of cement. They sell for about $8 a piece at Lowes. I then puchaced 2x4's. I would buy four planky boards and 2 or 3, 2x4 boards. Cut the planky boards into 4' lengths. With four planky boards you should get 12 4' lengths. Enough to make three 4'x4' beds. then cut the 2x4 into 12'' lengths and cut a bevel out of the bottom half.

I then screw the planky board onto 4'' side of the 2x4 at the ends. You now have two complete sides. Now you take another planky board and screw it into the 2'' side of the end of two of your already pre-made sides. Rinse and repeat on the last side. Then your done. Continue to make your other two boxes and you have made three 4x4 boxes for about $30 bucks which is about what even the cheapest box costs anyware else.

The one problem that I have run into is that the 2x4 rots away pretty quickly. You will get about two or three years of use before you need to start thinking about replacing them. You could however avoid this problem by using the new composit deck boards availble these days that will not break down. They are considerably more expensive but may be worth the investment in the end.

Like I said, it's a bit late for this year, but something to consider for next year maybe.

 

Pat.

Beware of some of that decking material, some friends put in a deck and the wood stuff got wet and it fell apart, they had to redo the deck. There is a class action suit against the company for faulty material. The stuff also probably has stuff in it that would leach out.

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