Step 2: Level the Gravel and Set the First Course of Blocks

The next step is to level the gravel as accurately as possible so the blocks line up evenly. This will be much easier to do if you use crushed gravel in Step 1 to cover the black plastic. Level the gravel in both directions -- width and length. It helps to have a long, straight 2x4 to use in conjunction with the level. Don’t rush this step or the blocks will not fit neatly together.

Also note, you can make raised beds any size you want as long as they are even increments of your blocks. But a 3’ interior width is a good size that keeps plants within easy reach.

Now you can start setting the first course of blocks. Start in a corner and use the square to make a 90 degree corner between blocks. Set the blocks tight against each other. Use the 2x4 to keep the blocks in a straight line. Work your way around keeping the blocks straight and level and hopefully the last block will fit perfectly. If it doesn’t, then the sides aren’t square and you’ll have to adjust the blocks slightly until they line up.

?? I have been told not to use concrete blocks due to the leaching of cement into the soil, rendering the vegetables produced non-organic. Is this true?<br>John
I've never made the connection between efflorescence and gardening: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efflorescence But yeah, chemicals do leach out.
<p>But does it make the vegetables unsafe to consume? I realize the question was targeted at the fact that chemicals made the produce non-organic. </p>
I kinda feel like this is a dumb question but... where do you find &quot;fine mesh fishing net&quot;?
That's a good question, actually. I live next to a huge lake and never gave it much thought. I can walk down the street and buy fishing net at any time, so I was a little surprised at all the sizes and types of fishing net on the Internet. First of all, you need to know basically what it looks like. The closest I could find is this link: http://houwenxiufay91479.en.nobodybuy.com/pid1216967/supply-fishing-net.htm<br><br>You might be better off buying standard 'soil filter fabric' if it's more common in your area. It's used to keep dirt out of French drains.<br>http://allstakesupply.com.au/growies-garden-and-outdoor/terraform-filter-fabric-roll-1m-x-25m-retail-197.html/
lol, thanks! I appreciate the quick response.
where can i purchase the interlocking blocks shown in the photo on this article?<br><br>thank you!
They're typically made by small shops. You'll have to search your area to see if anyone is making them. Or you can buy your own CEB press and make the blocks yourself. There are many brands. See here: http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/star-top-ceb-presses/
thank you.<br>
I have used untreated lumber for my beds. After two to three years they rot out. As I live in southern US the lumber attracts termites to the garden. They attack the roots of some of the plants. I am converting to concrete blocks.
I wish I added the plastic *sigh* <br>This year I built A 4x8 square foot garden, and planted two F2 (White Icicle, and Cherry Belle) varieties of radishes in a square, but when I went to harvest them only one is ready to harvest but none of the other 15. Each square was planted in one day, week later plant another, week later etc. Its not just one block but all of them, what am I doing wrong?
I can't answer that. There are lots of reasons why plants don't grow.
Thanks though; got any ideas I could try to kill the weeds that grow under the wood. We have berunda grass here.
Use the same method I describe on raised beds made of wood. The same black plastic/gravel/fishnet should work.
This is fantastic! I've been doing this where I live in Haiti with leftover CEB's from a project, and it beats the heck out of using lumber. Today I am building a vertical garden using CEB's. I'll post pictures.
That's great to hear. I haven't heard of anyone else doing this yet. I look forward to see your pics.
Sorry, I forgot to say how much it cost.<br><br>There are 33 blocks per course on this garden bed. Each block costs 25 cents ($.25 US). There are three courses, so that's 99 blocks. You might want to get one or two extra in case one breaks. Let's say 100 blocks X 25 cents = $25. Fishing net is very cheap, say $5. Gravel and plastic sheeting is very cheap, say $5. So the total is close to $35.<br><br>There's 31 square feet of growing space. So that's about $1.13/square foot, not counting soil and optional stakes, fencing, etc. That sounds like a good price to me, because it will last for many years and be more productive than typical gardens.
I like that look reminds me of my grandmother's house she had a few of those made from the chimney that fell over in a storm.
Recycled bricks could work, but they may slide apart over time unless mortared. Did she mortar them together?
No she didn't but, the moss and packed dirt kept it sturdy. The garden doesn't get taken care of that much so it's over grown with weeds and plant life.
Great project and excellent instructable. I am curious as to the length of the bed, and total cost(s). You may have seen my instructable on raised beds, where I used lumber and have had several problems with rot. However, they have lasted 10 or 12 years and should last several more. It does require maintenance, however. I read Mother Earth News for years, and saved most issues from 2 through 60! Seems as appropriate now, as they did then. Thanks for sharing. Cman
It's about 3'x9-1/2' inside dimensions. (Actual block measurements are metric.) So the area is about 29 square feet. The concept works great, that's why I posted here.<br><br>Mother Earth News was my favorite magazine when I was young. It's a real thrill to be working for them now.<br><br>

About This Instructable




Bio: Owen Geiger is the former director of Builders Without Borders, a Mother Earth News Green Home Adviser, The Last Straw Journal Correspondent and the director ... More »
More by Owen Geiger:Earthbag Water Tanks Insulated Bamboo Walls Insulated Earthbag Foundations for Yurts 
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