Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Goodbye Concrete, Hello Garden Boxes

Reused concrete planter
Our backyard homestead is moving along nicely. See the whole process here. The cement removal was a long process. Luckily we were able to recycle it. It was actually cheaper to recycle than to take it to the dump...$50 a ton verses a $700 dump fee. Unfortunately due to a recent decline in home construction, many places are no longer recycling concrete. It would have been a shame for it to have ended up in the landfill. In one area of our yard we already gave busted up concrete a new home in the form of a planter.

We decided on raised garden beds to protect our veggies from running kids and playing dogs. My daughters are already calling our empty dirt spot "The Secret Garden." They are excited for all the adventures this space will hold.

We chose redwood for the garden boxes because we were told that with the constant dirt and water contact this would be a more rot-resistant wood. I wanted to make sure we were not cutting down 200 year old trees so we tried to look for reclaimed or sustainably-harvested wood. We didn't have much luck finding anything with this labeling so we chose a common grade wood instead of the top of the line which is more likely to come from old-growth trees. It is very important when picking your wood not to choose any pressure treated wood. For a long time this was what was used in gardens, but in 2003 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the sale of lumber treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) for residential use. There were concerns about arsenic from pressure treated wood leaching into the soil, contaminating plants, people, and animals. Newer products have come out, but I am of the mind that when something is going to be touching my food or my children will be in close contact with, natural is better. Also do not use railroad ties unless they are free of chemicals. It would be great to use something reclaimed like this, but many are soaked with creosote, a wood preservative that is a potential carcinogen.

I am so very excited. We have been composting for months. Now we just need to finish the watering system... and a little soil might help!!!


  1. It's looking good nature girl. I am book marking you. I'm pretty new to this as well and I've become a blog junkie. If you want to see mine, it's http://urbanfarmingsidney.blogspot.com/
    I am loving veggies. I'm loving my greenhouse again. I'm loving meeting other urban farmers!! Good luck to you.

  2. Love the new look!!!my husband and I are both curious. Would you mind telling us how much the redwood raised beds cost to build. Wood up here in BC is so expensive, we are having serious envy!!

  3. They were so much more expensive than we thought they would be!!! About $200-$250 a box!!! And that was for the lowest grade wood! We were definitely not expecting that, but we had already jackhammered the concrete!!! ahhh, so there was no turning back. There are cheaper types of wood but they rot quickly and we were not up for building new boxes again in two years. Just the other day I saw on a site garden boxes built out of cinder blocks. They painted each block or did tile mosaics on them. It looked great. Very artsy. Wish I saw it sooner. I think that would be a great choice...especially if they were salvaged and didn't end up in a landfill. A garden box like that is going to last a long time.

  4. I love your cinder block idea. We went out and priced some the other day for a large compost bin. They are 2.99 each so we are going to wait a bit. Thanks for the wood info. That is a lot of $$ for beds. They really look incredible so I hope they are worth it for you. I have added your blog to my short little list of favorites on mine. I want to get some people reading it. It's. very good.