Thursday, April 2, 2009

Building the Raised Bed Garden

I was reading a news story about how people are putting in "Recession Gardens." Is that something like a Victory Garden?

Anyway, our garden was planted without the recession in mind. We wanted a garden so we could have fresh vegetables whenever, and because home-grown vegetable seem to taste better. Maybe because you put in so much work to get a garden to grow in the Salt River Valley. In the Phoenix area, it takes a lot more work to have a successful garden than in other areas of the country.

We spent some time at the various stone and brick yards and finally found a style of modular block that we liked. We considered flagstone, and other types of stones, but eventually decided on a cast cement modular block.

First we had to level out the ground where the garden was going to be... not an easy task. If the ground wasn't level, the blocks wouldn't be level either. We figured that our ground is pretty much cement unless it is soaked and dug up, so as long as wh didn't disturb the ground under the blocks, they would never move.

But we soaked the ground the night before, and it was a bit easier to dig through the bermuda grass and the rock-hard dirt that we have here. Then, I used a level to make sure that the dirt was flat. At this point, it was very simple to lay the first course of blocks, although it took a bit of extra levelling to get the blocks to lay flat.

We used a black landscape fabric to line the blocks so the dirt wouldn't wash out between the blocks when we water the garden.

The children put on the other layers of blocks until the garden wall was just tall enough for me to sit on comfortably. If I'm going to be weeding the garden, I wanted to be able to pull weeds without bending over too much.

Then we filled the garden with volcanic soil and sand, mixed with compost. And planted the garden. We planted squash and zucchini from a nursery, and small onions from starts. The rest of the garden was from seed.

...and three days later, the radishes were up. Pretty soon after that most of the rest of everything came up. Now our squash and zucchini are about three inches long.


  1. Very cool. I wish we could do more gardening. We have the pesky problem of a little bit too much shade, and it's so much less expensive to buy produce from the farm stands than to cut down enough trees to get sunlight in our yard. I love the fact that you can just set the stones right on the ground and don't have to worry about the ground freezing and heaving. Good job! It's beautiful!

  2. Yes, it's cool that we didn't have to use gravel and sand under the first course of blocks. Only in the Phoenix Area with our lovely cement dirt could you do this.