concrete block holes

marialyceAugust 3, 2002

have had soil in my concrete block holes and am now thinking of experimenting with a few things. fine perlite is free here but was told it could make the blocks break during the winter if it froze. have access to wood chips soaked down they could help with the humidity, it's dry here. thinking of composting in the holes but afraid it would feed weeds. ideas anyone?

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cather39(z7AL)

A long time ago in South Florida, I had a catch-as-catch-can herb garden. The chives went into the 3-holed blocks and even 2-holers. I used sewer pipe, PVC, even a "found" chrome bubble. I think I've not had a more attractive patch than that. There were lots of textures and greenery goes with ANYTHING! Wouldn't it depend on what you are growing? Orchids and bromeliads would need very loose stuff. Good luck with it.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2002 at 11:04AM
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akidleativy2(z9 CA)

A really pretty way to decorate with these blocks is to sink them into the ground side by side to create a patio with a lattice pattern. Then plant moss in the openings. When it all fills in, it looks like a plush, patterned carpet.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2002 at 2:34AM
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BarbC(8 coastal SC)

Cool idea!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2002 at 2:28PM
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frogribbit(z5 KS-midwest)

I used concrete blocks to create several raised garden (vegetable) beds. I filled them with lime and topped them off with pea gravel.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2002 at 10:53AM
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Kim_in_ky(z6 KY)

I've seen raised beds made from concrete blocks with herbs and marigolds and nasturtiums planted in the holes.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 12:04PM
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Kim_in_ky(z6 KY)

A former neighbor used them as edging and planted the holes (using reg. garden soil) and they've survived many z6 winters with no breakage.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 12:05PM
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Nelz(z5b/6 NW PA)

For those of you that fram raised beds, how well do these buggers stay in place? I always thought they would start sliding into the paths, or whateve, from the weight of the soil inside and more weight when wet, etc.

Do they move around? If so, is it obnoxious enough to re-think the idea?

I have access to lots of cement block from time to time, but always pass. I really like the herb/flower idea around raised beds (or a variety of other possibilities), and had never thought of it before.

Quite honestly I'm too lazy to haul 75 blocks out to the garden and then decide I don't like it and have to haul them back behind the garage awaiting their next project.

Ken

    Bookmark   September 23, 2002 at 2:12AM
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sharon_ga_zone7

M.,

We have a similar situation. Lucked into a bunch of old dairy barn bricks. Much larger (w/larger holes) than the average brick. We made a raised bed w/vegs & herbs. Last year I put portulaca flowers in the holes & they looked great! Just had to remember to leave some bare bricks to have room to weed, etc. in the interior of the garden. I also started catnip & lemon balm in a couple of the bricks, but the catnip I had to cut down due to aphid/ant invasion. Unfortunately, that left some ugly stems behind. The lemon balm still looks great! I also use the holes for "storage" - rocks for the homemade row cover, plant markers, etc.

Ken,

We have a heavy clay soil here. We filled the lowest layer of bricks w/clay, watered it in & it has been very stable. It is in a level part of the yard, so if you have a sloping area, I don't know how it would do. Seems like we may have dug out some of the topsoil in the yard & the first layer is partly buried in the ground.

Hope some of this info is helpful.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2002 at 3:29PM
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Nelz(z5b/6 NW PA)

My yard is level, and I have a loamy soil. Not sandy, not clay, but several feet down is gravel, and there are TONS of tiny stones (less than pea sized) throughout the garden, as well as many many bigger ones, but that's a different issue.

Drainage is excellent, well too good actually. My peppers (115 pants total) had a rough summer, droopy, soft peppers. Couldn't have been water, I water them enough, I thought. Then we get 7" in 48 hours and the peppers perk right up, then about 1"-2" every day or other day for a week. I know they've grown at least 3-6 inches in the past 2 weeks. The fruit is abundant, ripening like mad, tons of flowers and tiny peppers forming.

In retrospect, such a dry summer meant lots of places for water to go when I watered, and it went. Now I'm kicking myself. The harvest is just getting good (awesome actually) and cold is coming.

I may try framing one bed next summer, and partially burying the block as you do. I guess if I get some roots going in the holes that would help hold them too.

Thanks again for the info.

Ken

    Bookmark   September 25, 2002 at 11:49PM
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frogribbit(z5 KS-midwest)

My raised garden beds using cement blocks filled with lime have not moved at all. I kneel on them and my son uses them as the sidewalk :( I did not dig them in - just made a semi-level spot for them. My garden is also on somewhat of a slope. The only thing I did notice was that I needed to pay more attention to levelling the soil within the raised beds because when I watered, the water would run downhill.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2002 at 4:09PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I would not think that perlite would freeze and break the blocks unless the block was completely full of water. That is not likely with perlite or most any other potting medium.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2002 at 2:43PM
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simply_shelia(z8 TX)

I saw an article in a gardening magazine one year where the gardener had edged her garden with concrete blocks and planted succulents in the holes.It looked really neat.I brought home alot of blocks to do the same thing but I never quite got around to planting the succulents.However I did end up with alot of some sort of pink flowers growing on their own thru the holes.I forget the name but it spreads like crazy here in East Tx and was all over my yard.I thought the succulents looked really pretty.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2002 at 2:13PM
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Bamboochik(Z-8-HOT-S.AL)

I use cement blocks as raised beds for veges and flowers around here because I am on a wetland and that is about the only way I can garden. I make them 2 blocks high, "glue" them together with construction adhesive and then stucco them with a hypertufo mixture so that they will look more attractive. The ones in the shadier spots grow moss quite easily which is very attractive and the ones in the sun I whitewash with watered down pastel colors of pink, blue, yellow, green or white. A different color for each bed. Most beds are 4' X 10' or 20' long...I have a two acre labrynth of them. As far as the top holes go....perfect for herbs! B.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2002 at 2:41PM
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KAYGARDENER(BAY AREA--CALIF)

YRS AGO, IN THE ALASKAN INTERIOR, I SAW CONCRETE BLOCKS USED FOR LOW RETAINING WALLS,~24" HIGH. THE MORTAR BETWEEN CRACKED, BUT NOT THE BLOCKS, EVEN AT 50o BELOW (F). YOU COULD ALWAYS STICK SOME REBAR IN THE HOLES FOR REINFORCEMENT BEFORE PLANTING THEM, IF YOU HAVE LOTS OF HEAVY SOIL BEHIND THE BLOCKS. GOOD GARDENING TO YOU.K

    Bookmark   January 29, 2003 at 6:19PM
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palyne(Zone 6a NE OK)

I have three 24" high raised garden beds made from 8x8x16" cinder block brick. At my request, the landscapers did not do any kind of mortar etc., as I intend to expand their size next year. The holes in the blocks happily grew strawberries, basil, and even a small green bell pepper; I didn't have all the seeds I planned (I killed my seedlings with leggyness et al.) but I think it'll grow anything that isn't too large.

As far as getting pushed out of place, my 7 year old and her friends did manage, in walking/playing on them, to move a few top bricks slightly (a few inches) -- I just pushed them back in place, no big deal. Remember they've no mortar whatever, they're just stacked on a strip of 1/4" hardware panel (to keep out moles etc.) and then filled with soil. I wanted to be able to change my mind, change the size, move things if necessary, without being committed to these giant planters, hence the no-mortar thing.

We did a square bed, a rectangular bed, and a circular bed (around a stump I want to rot out). The circular doesn't allow me to use the holes in the block because they all lead to open air at some point due to the shape. The others are fine, but unless you are planting something super short (like strawberries), be sure you only plant away from the sun, so you don't shade the bed, or with some space (so you can reach over them into the bed to do stuff).

This is the first winter, so we will see how it does over winter. However, I've seen cinderblock in other yards for other reasons and it doesn't seem to fall apart in the cold in this climate (I think it's around -10F zone).

This spring once it warms up, my plan is to paint the outside of a bed's blocks with Killz, which is a white paint that will paint over anything (rust, you name it), and then my 7 year old will have a 'garden party' and I'm going to bring in a bunch of kids, have them sit down and paint pictures on the blocks, each of them having half a dozen blocks for their pictures. I thought that would result in a rather unique, fun look for her bed, and a fun party too.

Palyne

    Bookmark   February 1, 2004 at 3:24PM
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