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Prelim Bed Plans

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Prelim Bed Plans

Post  Allyn on 10/23/2014, 9:01 pm

I'm going to be moving soon to a piece of property on which I can have a garden again. I've been tinkering with my planting bed plans and wanted to show y'all what I have so far.

For mobility reasons (or lack thereof to a certain degree), I need the beds high; but for a variety of reasons, I don't want table tops -- at least not for these 'main' beds. My solution is to use concrete block three tiers high. That will give me a ledge to sit on while I tend things. Hurricanes are a consideration, so I have to make sure the blocks don't end up as flying objects. If I drive pipe or rebar down through the voids in the block every few feet and fill the voids with sand, that should make them stable and encourage them to stay in place.

The ground is mostly clay and drainage is a consideration. To keep the water from trying to drain through the blocks, I'm thinking about a kind of weeping system in the bottom of the beds to let the water drain. I'm planning to use a geo-textile to keep the materials separate (the gravel, the filler and the MM).




The ground slopes -- I'm not sure my representation here is entirely accurate, but it does slope.


The trellis pipes are going to be either 3/4" or 1" pipes driven down flush with the top of the block. As I need trellis on that north side, I'll add 1/2" or 3/4" PVC framing into those 'sockets' and weave twine across the frame to make the trellis. That way I can add or remove the trellis as needed. After I exported the pictures, I also thought that I could add those pipe 'sockets' on both sides of both beds and use them to plug in support hoops over which I can pull shade cloth or plastic cover over the beds as needed to protect plants from an especially brutal day or an occasional frost.

I haven't given much consideration to irrigation yet. There are two seasons here -- hot and FREAKIN' HOT -- so I think a soaker hose won't last very long. I'm leaning toward a drip system. I'd like to have an outdoor faucet at the end of one of the beds eventually.

Each bed will need about 100 cu ft of 'filler' -- something cheap that will drain and isn't too heavy that it exerts excessive pressure against the side walls.

Yes? No? Maybe?
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Re: Prelim Bed Plans

Post  sanderson on 10/24/2014, 2:04 am

Allyn,  I'm guessing you want some feedback or confirmation??

1.  Three (3) foot isles = good
2.  Geotextiles.  Most of us use a weed fabric from big box stores.  As long as it is permeable, and durable enough for your needs.
3.  Drainage system looks like you thought it through.
4.  Will the beds be 3' across in the interior?  I ask because you mention mobility reasons.  If you have a trellis on one side for tomatoes, bean, peas, etc., every thing else will have to be accessed from the other side.  A 2 foot reach is about the max that many folks can reach comfortably.
5.  Trellis pipes of 1" heavy duty PVC (not the thinner walled PVC) easily accommodates 3/4" PVC or 1/2 metal electrical conduit / EMC (a little looser fit).  For trellises that won't sag or bend, the EMC works nicely.  Trellis pipes on both sides is popular for bending 1/2" PVC for covers (plastic, shade or tulle).
6.  Irrigation - drip lines works great.   I have 2 lines with 6" spaced drippers across each square giving each square a total of 4 drips.  I have ordered mine from Dripworks.com.  Gosh, start reading their catalog and you will want to buy all kinds of doodads!  A drip line has a max length for equal pressure at each dripper.  Something a little over 20'.  Your 16' long boxes are perfect for the long runs.  The 1/2 inch tubing can be placed along the short ends or longs lengths, with the 1/4" drip lines coming off it.

Four drippers per square:


7.  If you get a faucet to the site, you can attach an atmospheric vacuum breaker and then a "Y", one for a hose and one for filling containers/cleaning tools, rinsing a fresh carrot for eating! Smile
8. The heat and the supper heat. Light colored mulch, such as straw or wood chips, will keep the soil/roots cool.

That's all I can think of at this time. Looking good!

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Re: Prelim Bed Plans

Post  grownsunshine on 10/24/2014, 12:32 pm

 I attached a timer on my dripline similar to this one, so I don't have to be at home to make sure my plants get watered on a timely basis, especially since your in a hot and hotter location. At HD or a catalog, there are plenty of fittings to make it work, ..like Sanderson said, plenty of doodads to buy.

Your plans look really nice. I can't wait to see pics of your garden when you've got things growing. Don't forget to post some!

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Re: Prelim Bed Plans

Post  Allyn on 10/24/2014, 7:00 pm

Thank you both for your input. Smile Any and all comments and suggestions are welcome. I can change my plans numerous times, but I want to build these only once. Smile That's good info about the heavy-duty PVC and conduit pipe. That'll save me from some trial and error. The interior width is 40 inches -- as close to 36 inches as I could get without having to cut blocks. I think I'll be okay with my reach as long as I'm not greedy and allot that extra four inches to the far side. I work from home, so a daily excursion to the garden to water will be doable until I can work out the irrigation system.

I was hoping some Gulf coast/FLA folks would chime in with opinions on the blocks and whether they thought the pipe and sand would hold them in place during a hurricane. The last thing I want is for the garden to end up being the source of massive FOD.
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Re: Prelim Bed Plans

Post  sanderson on 10/24/2014, 7:45 pm

My only thought on hurricane proof beds is that they are probably non-existent! Very Happy However, if you sink 1/2" or wider rebar into the ground (inside the pockets) and pour cement in the pockets instead of sand, it might make each bed one HEAVY object. You can pour bagged QuikCrete** with rocks in to the pockets and hose the stuff a little to wet it. **The stuff fencing people pour around 4" x 4" posts set in post holes to hold them solid.

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Re: Prelim Bed Plans

Post  Allyn on 10/25/2014, 3:53 am

Yes, I do know there's no such thing as hurricane proof. Smile Katrina taught us that and I live right in the heart of Katrina-country where the worst devastation occurred. The beds can't be permanent which rules out Quikrete. I was hoping that folks who have experience with hurricanes and block beds (or similar) might have an opinion on how sturdy the pipe and sand will be. Would I have better luck posting in the regional thread?
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Re: Prelim Bed Plans

Post  jimmy cee on 10/25/2014, 8:01 am

Allyn
Since your project is not going to be separate from the ground, make certain no trees are in the area...
Large trees within 50 - 75 feet can send roots into your beds....
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Re: Prelim Bed Plans

Post  sanderson on 10/25/2014, 11:54 am

Allyn, You don't have to post in your region. We all read each others topics, regardless of the regions. Very Happy

I'm trying to picture the effects of a hurricane and your design using sand. I think the wind would blow/suck the sand out once the top caps are pushed off, plus the plants, Mix and bedding sands, leaving the concrete blocks and rocks. The blocks are relatively heavy with holes in them and would probably be the last things to blow away. The bottom rocks might take off right before the blocks, or be the the last to fly. Personally, your design is probably as good as you can you considering all your factors.

We all are concerned with invasive tree roots. Hopefully, the air spaces in the bottom rocks would limit root invasion.

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Re: Prelim Bed Plans

Post  Allyn on 10/25/2014, 8:14 pm

I do appreciate the info. Smile It's all good. There are trees -- 45 feet, 66 feet, 62 feet, and 82 feet from each side of the bed --but I don't consider them large. They're rather stumpy, I assume from the clay soil. Will that be a problem with about 20 inches of gravel and filler between the ground and the yummy MM?

I do understand the usual progression of wind destruction. What I was hoping was that someone would have an opinion on how severe of a hurricane the bed would hold up to. Someone with experience with hurricanes might offer that it should be good to a CAT2 or maybe a CAT3. If the consensus is that it should be good to a CAT3, I'd be happy. If it would be good to a CAT2, that might give me pause. If it's barely enough to survive a CAT1, I might have to rethink it. I know the plants will be a loss. I just don't want concrete blocks coming through the walls of the house. The wind speed in a CAT3 hurricane is about the same as an EF-2 tornado, which according to the Enhanced Fujita Scaleich can create "light-object missiles."
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Re: Prelim Bed Plans

Post  brainchasm on 10/25/2014, 11:30 pm

Instead of filling the holes with sand or concrete, if you were to actually mortar the blocks together (which is what they're designed for, hence their slightly off measurements), it would make a very strong unit that could still be tapped apart with a sledge (so, not permanent), but wouldn't be prone to becoming airborne.

You could then also use the holes for planting as well, adding a significant percentage to your arable and available garden space.

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Re: Prelim Bed Plans

Post  Allyn on 10/26/2014, 2:21 am

Aha! Brainchasm, I was hoping you'd chime in. If I'm not mistaken, you built some lovely concrete block beds, yes? I didn't think they would come apart that easily if they were mortared. That would be my first choice -- to mortar them -- but my husband cautioned me that they can't be 'permanent.' I'll have to get a ruling on whether a mortared garden bed is considered 'permanent.' It's not our call. It's some rule that exists that nothing 'permanent' can be added to the property forward of the house, which right now is all the usable space on the property until we clear some serious underbrush covering the back half. I like the idea of using the holes for planting, but I really need to use the ledge to sit on.
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