|I recently received a comment about my cinder block garden that made me realize I need to elaborate the "why" I chose to use them. Truth is, I have many so I'll try to explain a few.|
1) Years ago, I read "Herb Gardening in Texas" by Sol Melter There are several illustrations in this showing
beneficial uses of cinder blocks and herbs. The compartments in the cinder blocks lend themselves as natural planters for herbs and plants that need some sort of containment. The blocks also have a level of flexibility in design, whether you want to bury them halfway to mark a border or stack them for a raised bed that is easier on your back.
2) Organic gardening is another factor I had to consider. Yes, there are natural wood alternatives that have a slower decomposition rate than others such as redwood and cedar. Pressure treated wood or railroad ties would not be something I would want to use for raised beds long term when growing food. Cinder blocks meet both the organic and non-rotting need I have here. It seemed an easy choice.
3) Flexibility in design. That sounds really strange when talking about concrete, but I often compare the blocks to my son's building blocks he played with for years. When I built my cinder block beds a few years ago I thought I knew what I wanted. After several seasons of gardening in them, I decided to change my design for more efficiency.
I needed to maximize garden space and make the walking paths smaller for weed control. I am using the same amount of space as before, but have a much greater area for planting. I've liked the option of being able to change things around. That's just one of my quirks. Efficiency is important to me.
4) Good workspace design. I like the fact I can fill most of the block cells with either plants or something more solid such as pea gravel. As you can see in the "after" photo, I have mint planted there. Good ole' invasive mint. *smile* It looks great and saves me the trouble of it choking out the rest of my herbs. Along the sides of the beds I'm going to fill them with pea sized gravel. I am amazed how much that helps when I work in the beds. I can easily place my knee pad on top of the side and work the bed with little strain or pain. It will serve to keep weeds and spiders out of there too. Black widows just love those kind of spaces and I'm not willing to get that up close and personal with them!
5) My goal for building these beds always goes back to sustainability for me. I'm not getting any younger and these beds should hold up for me for years to come. I consider them an investment into the years I may have trouble with handling harder physical labor. They take little effort to maintain and I can make changes to suit my needs.
I googled, "cinder block gardens" and was surprised to find some pretty impressive designs out there. I guess I've only scratched the surface for their uses. I need to get the ball rolling on that!