Monday, May 30, 2016

Rebuilding a raised bed garden

Since we came back from Florida (and other points south) I've been busy rebuilding the raised bed directly in front of the cabin. The nine year-old landscape timbers were rotted through and grumbling so it needed to be done. Plus, the redbud tree we had planted and which occupied a 2.5 foot square in the middle of the garden had given up the ghost after a couple of harsh winters and some storm damage back in 2010.

I tore the old timbers apart using a crowbar, brute force and shear stupidity. It took two days to get it apart as I had used spikes to hold it together. But, get it apart I did; salvaged most of the (slightly bent) spikes, too. As a bonus, when I used the tractor to haul the timbers to the back of beyond, I came across some morels! There's some right fine eating in them things!

The tractor and it's backhoe attachment came in handy to uproot the stump of the redbud but that took some doing. That little nine year-old tree had one heck of a root system. And for being completely dead, it was also surprisingly flexible. But, out it did come. Along with some pretty big stones--what else is new?

Then it was time to start rebuilding. I had decided to go with pressure treated 4"x4" timbers instead of straight stone or landscape timbers. I'm hoping they will outlast me at this point. After a false start or two, I decided that the down hill side would be mostly 4" thick solid concrete block with standard cinder block atop that and then the three layers of 4"x4" on top of them. The timbers would be held together with hex head lag screws and would simply rest on the cinder blocks. The weight of the timbers would hold then blocks in place and themselves as well.

Like most places around these parts it's difficult to find flat, level surfaces. The bed I was rebuilding slopes from a high point in the south east corner to a deep hole some 20" lower on the northwest corner. This is the area where the landscape timbers had sagged over the years so there may have been some slumping going on.

A butterfly bush on the left and the lilac on the right were crowding the old 16' by 8' bed. I reduced the size to about 14' 4" so they both get a little more room.

Raised bed under reconstruction.
 With the solid concrete block and cinder block in place , the timbers were laid out three high on top.

Terry wanted to save some of her oregano and the eumonymous on the right.

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 I originally toyed with the idea of using some of the many flat stones we have laying around to prop the walls of the bed up. But, after I had constructed a couple of piers using stone, they seemed too flimsy to withstand the pressure of soil from the inside. So I went with concrete blocs and cinder blocks.
Deepest corner with solid block, cinder block, and three timbers from bottom to top.

Timbers joined with lag screws and held in place with rebar at the corners.
 Once all the walls were in place, I tacked up some landscape cloth along the rear and west wall where it was deepest. Then I began to refill the hole left by the tree removal. This is going to take some additional garden soil. Lots of additional garden soil.

Dirt (mostly) redistributed. Front support board in place for the concrete edger.
 I built a backer-board for the front edger to be placed against out of redwood decking from our previous home in Morristown. I had replaced that deck in the summer of 1994 right after I retired. The wood was stored up in the Bolt Hole's barn and then relocated here. So it's not only aged, it's well traveled, too!

Al that's left over from the materials I purchased. One bag of river pebbles--which will get used--one solid concrete block, four cinder blocks. And the cinder blocks are left over only because I used four that had been sitting beside the shed for ten years.

Left overs.
 The concrete blocks to be used for edging along the front are shaped like keystones and are interlocking.
Edging blocks

Well, that's where it stands today, Monday. I'll probably get that edging stone in place tomorrow and then get some additional river pebbles so as to build a weed-free walkway on both sides and along the downhill wall. I've enough flat rocks to put on a bed of pebbles to make it almost like pavement.

Just a thought: This would be so much easier on a flat surface!

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