Raised beds on concrete pad

happycthulhu(7)March 2, 2007

I'm trying this as an experiment this summer.

Because I have limited space to garden in, I decided to build a couple of raised beds on a concrete parking pad in my back yard.

This spot will get full sun all day.

I used 80 cinder blocks.

Layered the bottom with about 5 inches of hay (1 hay bale per bed).

Then filled it up with mostly finished compost from my pile.

I'll put another layer of finished compost, soil and sand on top of the un-finished compost.

Hopefully, these beds will be better protected from cutworms and vine borers.

I'll even plant marigolds in the holes in the cinderblocks.

I'll be growing tomatos, peppers, and some strawberrys.

In the fall, I can make a hoop house cover over each of these beds for salad crops.

My back is real damn sore right now though.

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I'm new to gardening but that sure looks great to me!!! I have only been doing perennial flowers and strawberries and raspberries but plan on trying to grow from seed instead of buying mature plants so I am glad to have noticed this forum! You've done a lot of good work and I'm sure it will pay off!!! Jane

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 12:08PM
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linda_schreiber(z5/6 MI)

Sorry to be late...... This looks terrific! Hope your back is better by now . There are a lot of other things that would be happy in those holes in the cinder blocks besides marigolds, although a bunch of those would be nice. Chives, garlic chives, thyme, savory, mints, lots of other herbs would be happy in those holes. Ditto nasturtiums with their flowers great in salads, although they would drape a bit. And just stick the supports for the hoop house in the *outside* of the holes, and you can have herby, salady stuff to go with the greens.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 8:44PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

I feel for ya bro.. I did something similar a couple days ago in my little back yard... though with free, discarded cinder blocks and bricks. The idea is to use the cattle panel trellis arch for cucumbers and melons and then cover it with plastic in the winter for an early growing start on some seedlings. I put marigolds in the cinder block holes ($1 for 16-plants on clearance at the neighborhood Kroger grocery store) as well. Got any newer pics to show how it is coming along?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 11:47PM
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Everything is coming along just fine.
My tomatoes are getting big and I added some squash plants in between the toms since they'd stay low and I had the room.
The only regret I have is not over filling the beds.
The compost compacted down to a little less that two thirds from the top of the beds. Now I have to water a little more often.
Oh well, I can always top it off at the end of this season.
Here's some pics....

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 11:01AM
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Wow, I couldn't be more excited to find your posting.
I am a long time gardener but a first time homeowner (hooray) who just bought a house whose whole sunny side yard is an RV pad.
I've been waiting years 'till I owned a home to plant crops that take a couple of years to really yield, like aspargus and rhubarb.
I was doing a search about the possibility of building raised beds right on top of that pad and Bingo-there you were-wonderful pictures and all.
One of my big concerns was how deep I would need to make the beds to grow a variety of veggies as well as melons next summer.
I'd appreciate your telling me how things are working out for you. (it certainly looks wonderful) and the actual dimensions of your beds which look about 4'wide and 3' tall to me. Would you change them?
I will note your advise on overfilling the beds and wonder if you have any other advise for someone who is just setting up?
This is my first time in this kind of format so excuse me
if my postings are too long etc. while I get a feel for this new community I am joining.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 5:59PM
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The raised beds turned out great.
Even with the compost settling to about half the depth of the bed, the tomatoes and peppers produced like crazy.
I did have to water more because of it being on the concrete pad, but I just did that when I was watering the lawn.
As for the measurements of the beds, they are only 16 inches deep (the height of 2 blocks), about 2 and a half feet wide (inside measurement), and just as long as I could make it.
I'll be adding a lot more fresh compost to refill the beds soon, and maybe some more in the spring as that settles.

I did have a disaster happen though. During a storm, my huge pecan tree dropped a main branch right on top of both beds.
This broke all my tomato plants and crushed the peppers and flowers. They did bounce back, but didn't produce near as much as I had hoped for.

Well, next year ought to be better since I had the whole pecan tree cut down. Now my back yard is in full sun instead of mostly shade.

I also plan on placing a 55 gallon barrel at the top of each bed, attaching a spigot and soaker hose, and using collected rain water to water next summer.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 1:15PM
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This looks wonderful and thanks for sharing your tips and learnings. I've been thinking of doing the same with a garage-size concrete pad I have in my garden (there used to be a garage but now it's fully uncovered.
My worry: how does the drainage work? I live in Portland so there is a lot of rain, and my fear is that the rain would evacuate and run out to the sides of the raised bed, leaving the rest of the concrete building up moss.
Have you had any experience with water leaking outside of the concrete raised bed?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 6:38PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Jeanne, you may want to start your own discussion.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 11:40AM
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Jeanne, my pad is on a slope so yes the beds do drain.
However, I believe that would happen in any case.
Raised beds always drain faster than a garden that's not.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 3:22PM
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Doesn't all that concrete leach into the soil and raise the pH too much??

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 1:52PM
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Wow! I know this is a very, very old thread, but I had to comment. I recently learned I cannot dig my garden and have been seriously contemplating a layered type garden. I love the block idea...

Here is a link that might be useful: LinderCroft

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:43PM
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Well, the beds are still going strong.
I do have to top them off every year with some fresh compost and give them a good turn.
But, it doesn't cost me anything since I make my own compost.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 11:00AM
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Yes, the concrete blocks will raise pH alot. Study by Univ. of FL showed that soil next to walls (if new concrete) will raise pH from 5.6 to 9.0.

This would make growing difficult longer term. Most plants prefer 6-7 pH.

In our compost production we can't produce our soil with an ideal pH, if it is touching concrete walls (piled next to).

On the bright side though - if the leaching from these blocks for raising pH doesn't raise it too much to prevent plant growth.

It is a good way for adding a Calcium supplement. (lime in concrete is calcium bicarbonate and calcium oxide).

Looking at some of the compost that was added in the pics .... I'm guessing the materials added have a pretty low natural pH.

The only way to know for sure though it to test :)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 5:18PM
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