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Raised box garden -- paver question

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by TAT2D, May 19, 2010.

  1. TAT2D

    TAT2D Portland Member

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    For the 'what did we do today to prep,' wife and I have been building up a set of veggie garden boxes. We're almost late, since the last frost is now past, I think, but things only move so fast.

    We're expanding a small plot of previous years to a 1/3rd of the back yard now -- 6 4x6 ft boxes and 2 more of 2x6, up against the back of the garage. Had some Trex lumber left over from the deck rebuild project, so tho' their gunnels are not quite as high as I'd like, it should take a *long* time to rot out.

    Question: we're wrestling with what to do with the paths between the boxes. Any sort of attractive flagstone or (real) stone pavers would be prohibitively expensive. I dislike 1" round rock or even pea-gravel for dragging carts over. Leading candidates at this point would be small (1/4-1/2") crushed rock/gravel or cast cement pavers.

    Wife heard rumor of a place down towards Salem that sells cast 'seconds'. Does anyone know more about that? I'd like to do sq-ft-ish sized stones to minimize the places weeds can come up, and also, there's *just* enough slope to the area, that I figure I'll be forever raking loose gravel back up to the top of aisle.

    Thanks for any thoughts or suggestions...

    Wife sent this as 'food for thought,' tho' I'm angling for something more utilitarian...
    http://www.sunset.com/garden/backyard-projects/great-garden-paths-photos-00400000043327/

    MrB
     
  2. CaughtSteelin

    CaughtSteelin Oregon Member

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    One cheap fix that I see my neighbors use is Roof Shingles. The big 1'x2' or 3' shingles. They seem to work for them and one said he hasn't had to replace them in years.

    Good luck.
     
  3. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Well, this is all backward for you now, but I don't like boxes. You can do raised beds just by raking the sides up at 45 degrees or so.

    I like to just make the whole area garden by adding a LOT of organic matter and tilling it in as deeply as possible. This does make tilling or hand cultivating a lot easier without the boxes. Purists will double dig it, of course.

    Then the dang soil is so light and loose that it's easy to just rake the beds up into shape. This leaves your paths with such great drainage and the soil so improved that you can simply walk on them, wet or dry. You don't worry about compacting your paths, boxes or not.

    Since you've added so much organic material, it's easy to shape the ground so that your paths aren't recessed below ground level, even after walking on them. All that's really wanted anyway are raised planting beds that are deeply dug with lots of organic material added, and not later compacted by your feet, boxes or not.

    $.02

    PS I hope your boards have an air space between them and the garage, or you'll quickly get dry rot in your garage walls if they are wood framed.
     
  4. powersbj

    powersbj Seattle Area Active Member

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    Crushed gravel may work, it doesnt migrate like pea. You see it alot on national park trails. My wife is pushing for using hazel nut shells.... It looks neat but Im afraid its going to end up all over the yard.
     
  5. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    I'd sure put landscape fabric down first to stop weeds and to stop whatever I used from being pushed down into the soil, if I had boxes.

    The problem with gravel is it's so hard to remove if someone ever wants to change things. That includes a new future owner, maybe. I'd opt for landscape fabric and cover it with something I could later till in such as bark.

    $.02
     
  6. powersbj

    powersbj Seattle Area Active Member

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    Nice point on the bark, that reminds me of newspaper as the weednet and straw on top. It also attracts alot of worms as it composts. But I think that is usually used for raised beds so you can rotate the path and the bed every year.
     
  7. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I forgot that. Newspaper and straw are great if you want to replace them every year. You can just cover them over with more if you don't plan to till the whole area.
     
  8. The Quiet Man

    The Quiet Man rural Washington County, Oregon Active Member

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    We put newspaper down followed by saw dust (saw mills gives it away by the trailerload) and then added mulch to top it off. Looks nice, smells nice, and easy to get around on.
     
  9. CounterOfBeans

    CounterOfBeans northwest Active Member

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    I visited a commercial nursery recently and the entire floor of the green house was covered with a black, anti-weed matting fabric. By looking at it, it looked like it was rolled out from a fairly wide role to cover wide areas, but I'm sure you could probably find narrower roles or just cut the matting to the width you need. It seemed like a pretty neat and tidy way to cover the ground and keep weeds from getting a start.
     
  10. MuddyWatters

    MuddyWatters West Seattle Member

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    We just use cedar chips on top of cardboard between our raised beds. The chips stay put and work well.
     
  11. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    You can buy 6' wide rolls of it at any garden center. I think the last 100' rolls I bought were about $30, at Fred Meyer or Lowes.

    You can buy 12' wide rolls at a supplier for road and parking lot construction. It's about $1 a running foot, in some odd length like 275' for about $275 but my memory fails me on that. I actually bought it to line a ditch, fill it with pea gravel, and then wrap the pea gravel. There was also drain pipe in the gravel. This of course was a curtain drain but it still works to stop weeds and mud while letting water pass. In road and parking lot construction they put it on the dirt sub-base before beginning to add rock. It keeps the mud from migrating up into the rock from the pumping action of vehicular traffic, where the mud would lubricate the rock and cause the base to fail.

    I'm liking the idea of newspaper or cardboard because they are cheap and they biodegrade, unlike the fabric. You could just till it all in, bark or sawdust and all.
     
  12. Bark

    Bark Oregon Member

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    I have 3" of pea gravel over landscape fabric surrounding my 8 raised beds, I will admit I found it hard to push a loaded wheel barrow until I cut some plywood stripes to lay down when moving something heavy. The majority of the time I use buckets so it's not much of an issue. On the plus side, I have very few weeds to deal with, can kneel down without hurting my knees when working the beds and the pea gravel drys very quickly so I don't get wet when working the beds. Never really thought about the impact this would have on a home sale but if you like low maintenance it's a real plus!
     
  13. Just Jim

    Just Jim Well-Known Member

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    Compacted crushed rock with fabric under it.

    jj
     
  14. dobanion

    dobanion North Portland, Oregon Member

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    I use cinders (red pumice probably from Madras) around my planters. Theory is slugs really hate abrasive surfaces. Been finding them trying to make it across, and failing. Secondly, they hold moisture, so you wet them on a hot day, and the evaporative cooling keeps the air a bit cooler around the planters.
     
  15. TAT2D

    TAT2D Portland Member

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    Thanks for all the ideas. Seems like each has some compromise.

    Question on 'cedar chips' -- are these the bark chips like one can get in bags at Home Despot? I've seen chipped wood, like under the swings at the park, that seems like it wouldn't break down as fast as bark. I haven't found anywhere that has it for sale in bags or bulk. Maybe I need to call up one of the stump-grinding companies.

    We think we'd like to do some cast cement pavers with something organic to fill out the aisles, but would like to find something that won't break down as fast as bark.

    We're expanding the 8x10-ft patch of past years to several 4x6 boxes plus a couple 2x6. (And yes, I wouldn't have butted 'em up hard against the garage, will leave a gap.)

    The gray ones are Trex lumber, the other couple are new 2x8s. I was concerned that a stick screwed into the inside corner would rot out quickly so bought some galvanized flat plates at HD and bent those and screwed to the outside. The other way to join the corners would have been to cut a <what's the word? Not 'mortise'> stairstep? at the end of each board such that each board stacks into the corner, then drill and drop a piece of rebar into the hole. I'd have gone this route but wasn't sure it wouldn't tear out of the Trex, and didn't reconsider when I got to the Fir boxes...

    MrB

    IMG_0553-r2.jpg
     
  16. MuddyWatters

    MuddyWatters West Seattle Member

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    What we are using now are cedar chips from Burien Bark. Not all the bulk landscaping supply houses carry them so I had to look around.

    I've used free chips from tree cutters as the price is right but it breaks down quickly.