Our Backyard Veggie Garden

One of my favorite childhood memories is heading to my granddad's backyard in the summertime and picking fresh summer tomatoes from the vines.  Ever since then I have loved and longed to have a successful backyard garden.  My grandad planted rows in ground from seeds.  His success, legendary and delicious.  Seriously good tomatoes and cucumbers.   I tried years ago to plant directly in our ground.  But the results were lack luster.  It was surprising to me because it seemed no amount of amending of my soil helped.  I finally wised up and had our soil tested.  When we got the results it was clear that it would take a serious investment of time and money to get our soil in shape.  I decided to container garden.  We had good success but I missed the sensation of walking through rows of tall tomato plants.

This year I decided to give a cinder block garden a try.  I layed out my plan and estimated I would need 22 cinder blocks to make my first bed.  After trying several recycle centers.  I headed to our local hardware store.  While I was there I met another customer who proved to be my green gardening fairy godfather.  I told him how my goal was to be as green as possible and that I hadn't found a recycle center that had cinder blocks to which he responded, "I have quite a few that you can have for free if you can move them."  Totally awesome.  He was able to give me enough material to make two beds not just one.  I was thrilled.

The hardest part of putting in the cinder block garden is moving the cinder blocks.  It is labor intensive.  I did almost all of the set up on my own.  My children watched and cheered me on, but I did not involve them at all in the moving or hauling of these beasts.  Here is how we put our garden together.

Step 1: Survive the Haul!!

Wear gloves. Cinder blocks aren't just heavy they chew your hands.
Wear long sleeves: They also chew you arms ... just cover your skin, trust me.
Get I dolly or wheelbarrow: I still don't have one of these but it's on my wishlist and would have made the hauling infinitely easier.

Step 2: Layer it.

I watched and read tons about cinder block gardening before getting started.  I decided to go with the lasagna layered approach to gardening.  So I covered the area with a few layers of cardboard to kill the weeds and still allow the worms and such to find there way into my raised bed.  Then I simply dry stacked the cinder blocks in the design I wanted.

Step 3: Water It.

I have a thing about not wanting to waste water.  Typically when you are filling your bed you will want to put in one layer of soil then water it in.  Then another layer of soil and water it in and so on until your bed is full.  Since I had time and started at the very beginning of our growing season rather than dumping a layer of dirt in and turning the hose on it, I filled the bed over the course of a couple of days.  We had several days rain in a row and I just let the rain water in the beds in for me.

Step 4: Plant it.

We used a mix of seedlings we sprouted, plants purchased from the garden center, and we sewed some seeds straight into the bed.  The seedlings we sprouted and the young plants we transplanted from the gardening center proved more likely to survive their first few weeks in the garden.  They were more tolerant of unexpected and heavy rains and able to survive the ensuing slugs and pill bugs. But I have to say the children and I both were more excited watching and "rooting" for our directly sewn seeds to sprout.  Also, while we lost almost half of bed of seeds to a pill bug/slug attack the seeds that survived seem stronger and heartier than our transplants.  Moral of the story .. if you are sewing seeds directly into the bed it's a numbers game.  You will likely lose as many as you sprout so plant abundantly. 


  1. I would of never thought to use center blocks. Plus they are super affordable.

    1. I was so nervous to give them a try. But, they have been working beautifully. :)


The Wasting Nothing Philosophy

Playing, cooking, reading, exploring, loving, laughing, and making a mess with your little one is NEVER a waste of time! It is priority one! It's not just about getting to know your little one. It's about letting your little one get to know you!