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#1 of 15 Old 01-03-2011, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is this possible? Our house in in-town, and I'm not comfy planting directly in the ground here due to chemical concerns. Is it possible to make a raised bed to container garden that doesn't cost a ton? Like under $100 total at most including soil? Ideas? Websites to tell me how?

 

 

I want to grow carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, beets, tomatos, squash, cukes, watermelons, and maybe a few other things. We're in South/Central TX. I don't have any containers to use, and no car to get them most of the time - I might can get a friend to pick them up in his truck but I'll have to pay him. I plan on worm composting for fertilizer using a method I read online using 18 gallon totes {which I already have}.


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#2 of 15 Old 01-04-2011, 06:35 AM
 
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Well, the soil thing is tough.  What I would do is sytart scavenging logs and large branches on trash day (I keep our fire pit and fireplace supplied like this also) and build a raised bed with them.  You can buy big bolts called timberlok to attach them togther with.  You will need a heavy duty corded drill/driver, but those things rock!  Start by removing grass with a spade (shake off the topsoil from the roots) and shovel turning the bed.  This will suck, set small goals LOL.  Then begin collecting fall leaves (your nieghbors will bag them, they are silly, you can capitalize on this) and dumping them into the bed.  Water down each layer and run around in it to compress them.  This spring turn them into the soil.  This will start your bed.  You could begin with non root crops in this soon.  Do leaves every year, as much as you can get.  In about 3 years it will be soft and rich enough for your carrots (they are a pain though, and cheap at the store).

 

Also, start a compost pile to enrich yearly with.  You will be the crazy lady dragging bags of leaves around the block, but your neighbors will be jealous of your veggies!

 

Even in a raised bed you will be dealing with existing soil.  If you are really concerned about chemical contamination have your soil tested (county extension will do for free) but honestly I wouldn't sweat it too much, it's no worse then any other soil on the planet probably.  The chems come from the air, rain, etc, etc, nowhere is truly safe.

 

For containers you can get black plastic nursery pots for free from landscapers- they have to pay to dump them and go through tons.  Get the biggest volume you can find.  You will have to buy soil for pots though, native soils won't do.  For cheap soil go to lowes/home depot/etc and ask about their broken bags.  I usually pick them up for 10 cents on the dollar.

 

Concentrate on veggies that are best super fresh and or very expensive- peppers, tomatoes, cukes, greens.  Make a bigger bed than you think you need, more space is more better.  Save room for flowers too for your pollinators and to make it pretty.  Sunflowers, zinnias, marigolds all have a place in the veg garden, and you can cut bouquets for the table to enjoy while you eat your fresh tomato salads.

 

Good luck!!!!!

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#3 of 15 Old 01-05-2011, 08:32 AM
 
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I want to lick plantnerd in the face love.gif Amazing suggestions!

 

I will amend her suggestions and say fart tearing up the grass, it sucks a lot. Lay newspaper down (which you can scavenge from recycle bins or pretty much wherever) Then water the newspaper or it will blow away.

 

I can't stress enough how amazing leaves are! I told one of my neighbors that he could blow his leaves into my yard, that I needed them for the garden. You would have thought it was Christmas! Bagging is the hard part for them (and this is the first year we haven't had curbside so my neighborhood is grumbling!)

 

 

Also, I am reading up on soda bottle container gardening (topsey turvey style) but like you, I'm not trying to spend a fortune on dirt. I think I may have to go around and ask about broken bags!

 

Also, horse crap!! I grew up on a horse farm and well rotted manure is gold. It has to be old old old, but horses, goats anything like that, most farmers have a system for the manure and wish more people would come take it away.

 

We are in totally different zones (I'm 5, you're like 8?) so I can't really give you advice about where veggies like to grow. In Southern Ohio, cucs do well in containers. They like the heat! Also peppers, eggplants (which I can ONLY grow in 5 gal buckets!) and tomatoes. Lettuce also, it will grow well in containers. Or upside down 2L bottles! Anything that will hold dirt will hold veggies.

 

Be mindful of water. Containers dry out really fast. I like to put single serve plastic juice bottles (I get them from a recycle bin on my road, I don't know what they are) put some rocks (like 5 stones) in the bottom, jab some holes, fill with water and set it in the container. The water will leak out slowly and keep things moist! Plus you can see with your eyes the container is empty and can refill!

 

And potatoes! You can get burlap sacks from a REAL coffee house (not Starbucks, someone who is a coffee roaster) put a spud in, and fill with dirt as he grows, rolling the sides up as you go. When you are ready to harvest, kick it over (onto a tarp to save the soil!) and bam. Potatoes everywhere.


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#4 of 15 Old 01-05-2011, 10:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kriket View Post

I want to lick plantnerd in the face love.gif Amazing suggestions!

 

I will amend her suggestions and say fart tearing up the grass, it sucks a lot. Lay newspaper down (which you can scavenge from recycle bins or pretty much wherever) Then water the newspaper or it will blow away.Depends on the grass.  We have bermuda and it will pop right through and make you crazy for the rest of your life.  Fescue or bluegrass you can certainly do this with though.

 

I can't stress enough how amazing leaves are! I told one of my neighbors that he could blow his leaves into my yard, that I needed them for the garden. You would have thought it was Christmas! Bagging is the hard part for them (and this is the first year we haven't had curbside so my neighborhood is grumbling!)

 

 

Also, I am reading up on soda bottle container gardening (topsey turvey style) but like you, I'm not trying to spend a fortune on dirt. I think I may have to go around and ask about broken bags!

 

Also, horse crap!! I grew up on a horse farm and well rotted manure is gold. It has to be old old old, but horses, goats anything like that, most farmers have a system for the manure and wish more people would come take it away.

 

We are in totally different zones (I'm 5, you're like 8?) so I can't really give you advice about where veggies like to grow. In Southern Ohio, cucs do well in containers. They like the heat! Also peppers, eggplants (which I can ONLY grow in 5 gal buckets!) and tomatoes. Lettuce also, it will grow well in containers. Or upside down 2L bottles! Anything that will hold dirt will hold veggies.

 

Be mindful of water. Containers dry out really fast. I like to put single serve plastic juice bottles (I get them from a recycle bin on my road, I don't know what they are) put some rocks (like 5 stones) in the bottom, jab some holes, fill with water and set it in the container. The water will leak out slowly and keep things moist! Plus you can see with your eyes the container is empty and can refill!

 

And potatoes! You can get burlap sacks from a REAL coffee house (not Starbucks, someone who is a coffee roaster) put a spud in, and fill with dirt as he grows, rolling the sides up as you go. When you are ready to harvest, kick it over (onto a tarp to save the soil!) and bam. Potatoes everywhere.



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#5 of 15 Old 01-05-2011, 10:19 AM
 
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Thats very true. I have been lucky and have never had to deal with bermuda :) We do get crab grass tho irked.gif seems to pop up in the most unlikely places! I think Bermuda may be a hot weather things too, so OP may very well have it!


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#6 of 15 Old 01-05-2011, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We do have bermuda - I hate it too. And we have another grass I think is called crab grass that is worse. It sends runners out and will even grow on top of concrete!

 

We're actually zone 9 - right on the edge of 8 and 9 on the 9 side. So we can garden most of the year except for summer when it's so hot.

 

Where we live used to be part of a landfill, and I know our soil is full of junk and rocks/fill from the little I've dug for things, so I want to stick to containers or raised closed beds with bottoms.

 

Has anyone had luck getting buckets free anywhere? The 5 gallon bucket idea sounds great, as I can move then into more shade in the summer when it's so hot here, but buckets are quite expensive new. I was also thinking of using an old BBQ grill as a container for shallow stuff - I normally can get them in the bulk trash pick up yearly for free, but that won't be until July. I can try craigslist for some, but without a car it's tricky getting them unless they are in our neighborhood.

 

We sat down and made a list of what we'd like to grow to help save costs:

 

Tomatoes

Cauliflower - we'll be doing a large crop of this if at all possible as it's $3 a head here and we all love it.

cukes

yellow & green squash

beets - same deal as the cauliflower above

Cabbage - can't get good ones in the stores here

And maybe some onions and garlic. We're not big greens fans, so just a bit of lettuce and spinach will do us.


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#7 of 15 Old 01-05-2011, 02:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kriket View Post

And potatoes! You can get burlap sacks from a REAL coffee house (not Starbucks, someone who is a coffee roaster) put a spud in, and fill with dirt as he grows, rolling the sides up as you go. When you are ready to harvest, kick it over (onto a tarp to save the soil!) and bam. Potatoes everywhere.



I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

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#8 of 15 Old 01-05-2011, 02:45 PM
 
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My husband builds these raised beds for his clients. The posts are $8.00 each from Lowe's. He fills the inside with worm castings from a local farm ($25 per pickup load) and 3 bags of Black Cow ($4.00 per bag.) He gets the cedar slab rounds from a local sawmill. They cost next to nothing because they are really just the bits that cant be used. He lines the botom with carpet that people just throw away. The whole thing costs about $75.00 for a 4x4x4 bed. Personally, I would suggest making it 6x6x2 in order to maximize your space. I would def. look in rural areas for worm castings or compost. Here in Kentucky weve had tons of tobacco farmers switch to worm farms since the tobacco buyout.

 

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#9 of 15 Old 01-05-2011, 02:59 PM
 
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Subbing because someday I want to garden here and we also have contamination issues and poor soil.

 

I am definitely going to try the potatoes in the burlap coffee bag thing. Sounds even easier than using the garbage can method I was looking into. :)

 

Adaline'sMama - what is the purpose of the carpet lining in the beds? Also, those beds your DH makes with the log cast-offs are really beautiful! I love the way they look compared to the traditional more finished types.

 

 

Thanks for the info, everyone!


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#10 of 15 Old 01-05-2011, 04:19 PM
 
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Has anyone ever used the plastic kiddie pools? Our last raised-bed garden in our old place cost a fortune to build (I went a little overboard with purchased stacking stones), and I'm not looking to spend a lot of money this year. I did Square Foot Gardening, which I highly recommend checking out. I have the old edition, and I'm drooling over the possibilities the updates offer.


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#11 of 15 Old 01-05-2011, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
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Has anyone ever used the plastic kiddie pools? Our last raised-bed garden in our old place cost a fortune to build (I went a little overboard with purchased stacking stones), and I'm not looking to spend a lot of money this year. I did Square Foot Gardening, which I highly recommend checking out. I have the old edition, and I'm drooling over the possibilities the updates offer.



I've seen people use them when I searched online for cheap container gardening - I'll be hunting for some when bulk pick up comes around to use for planting.

 

 

I need to check out Square Foot Gardening - our library doesn't have it and I haven't been able to find a used copy anywhere cheap.


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#12 of 15 Old 01-05-2011, 05:12 PM
 
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Adaline'sMama - what is the purpose of the carpet lining in the beds? Also, those beds your DH makes with the log cast-offs are really beautiful! I love the way they look compared to the traditional more finished types.

 



Thanks! Ill tell DH you like them. The carpet is just a way to use waste (and not pay for) as a weed barrier. its great because you just find a piece that is a little bigger than the bottom of the raised bed and pop it in. That way, you poke the carpet into the corners and no weeds can pop through. We have also used burlap coffee bags (donated by the local roaster) as weed barriers as well as to grow root veggies in. Newer carpet is almost always made of recycled plastic bottles, so if it sucks to go into the landfill, but if you can reuse it, its like double recycling. You can also use those cast off logs to make an excellent looking privacy fence around your backyard, at about 1/4 of the cost it would require to build it with actual lumber.


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#13 of 15 Old 01-06-2011, 02:04 PM
 
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check with bakeries and delis for the buckets, flour and pickles and the like come in those buckets and there are always lots left over that end up being thrown away.


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#14 of 15 Old 01-07-2011, 11:48 AM
 
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Hi,

I just wanted to add a couple thoughts:

 

1) I've had more luck with tomatoes in old recycling bins (or you could probably use large totes) than in 5-gallon buckets.  I'm in zone 6/7 and I have to water 5-gallon buckets constantly in the summer heat to get good tomatoes.  On the other hand, I put two plants in each standard-size recycling bin and they did really well.  I re-used the soil the following year for carrots.  You don't get many, but they don't get wasted like the old rubbery ones you buy in the store, either, because you don't pick them until you're ready to eat.

 

2) Cucumbers and summer squash are usually pretty cheap here when they're in season, and my impression is that they need a lot of water in containers, too, though I haven't tried it.  Maybe someone who has can correct me or can give advice on how much soil and water they need.

 

3) I'm a pretty dirt-cheap gardener, and I've made the mistake in the past of trying to get away with compost instead of fertilizer.  I strongly suggest buying a good-quality complete fertilizer, it will pay for itself in increased productivity and probably increased nutritional quality of your food.

 

4) Unless I'm planting something special I usually don't fill my containers with 100% purchased soil.  I put compostable materials like (chopped) leaves, grass clippings, food scraps, etc, in the bottom 20% for things like greens that I know are shallow rooted.   If I'm not sure about the root system of the plant sometimes I'll use city compost or compost of my own when I have enough.  (Our city compost is well cared for, or at least it's well-monitored (temperature and off-gassing) by a woman I know, who really sounds like she knows what she's doing.  It's tested for heavy metal content and ph, and is aged long enough to allow permitted herbicides to break down.  Using municipal compost is a judgement call.)

 

HTH


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#15 of 15 Old 01-07-2011, 11:57 AM
 
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You might read the book Lasagna Gardening. Lots of info in there about container gardening and using little soil.


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