Saturday, June 5, 2010

The raising of the beds - building a raised bed garden using free, cheap,and recycled materials

We have been hard at work the last few weeks collecting, shoveling, digging, and building our new raised beds. After doing a free soil sample through the county of Alameda we found out our dirt is a bit high in lead (our home is from1919 so there was some lead paint issues). Due to these findings we decided it best to build raised beds for our garden. Of course, as always, we wanted to complete this project as sustainably and cheaply as possible so we set out looking for free materials to get us started. Luckily we stumbled across someone giving away used 1930s bricks and decided to give our masonry skills some honing. We ended up getting 3 truck loads of the bricks though I think we might need to search for a bit more in order to complete all the plans of grandeur we have in the works.

Another lucky find, the city of Berkeley GIVES AWAY free compost once a month to it's residents. It's shovel yourself, so we loaded up the truck with huge grins ecstatic to have access to such great compost for FREE no less.
We purchased some sandy loam as a soil amendment but it turns out it's great as a makeshift mortar for our brick beds as well.
To get us started we mocked out the beds with some cement blocks, then Dan dug a trench and installed a soak/drip watering system for the beds.
We went to a local stable up in the Oakland hills and got some free horse manure for sheet mulching all our nasty grass.
After the manure we put down cardboard and built the walls of the beds using the bricks and a mixture of the sandy loam and water as the mortar. Once dry the walls became really strong.
The next step is to get all our plants in beds then get some mulch for the beds and the walk ways in between. This will not only make it look nice but it will help keep in moisture and help control weeds.
More pictures to come...


  1. Wow, you've been working hard!! Your beds look amazing. I feel so lazy in comparison...

  2. its been very nice seeing the transitions!