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Thread: Selecting Cinder Block Size

  1. #1
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    Selecting Cinder Block Size

    I'm going to make a cinder block raised bed to corral my bagged daylilies in. I will take them out of the bags but will simply plop their amorphous dirt clumps into the bed and deal with them on an individual bassis next spring. I have my choice bewteen 2 types of cinder block:
    1) 8x8x16 These are the big blocks we are most familiar with. Note that they have a a very large empty space between the two sides

    2) 3 x 8x 16 These blocks have a small thickness but all other dimensions are the same as the larger block.

    I kinda like #2 because there is less of a void in the center. I figure I will have to fill those big voids for warmth. But is block #2 going to flop over when I fill the area(which they will border) with soil ?

    Any suggestions/insights ?
    "If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come"




  2. #2
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    Cathy, I think the thinner ones would fall over unless you partially bury them or prop them up. The #1 would be sturdier I think. I don't think you'd have to fill in the holes.
    tennessee sue

  3. #3
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    How many plants do you have to deal with? How big of an area do you need?

    Whenever I have plants that I don't think can make it thru the winter in pots, I simply put 2 8" blocks at each corner, lay them on their sides, and use landscape timbers between to hold mulch material. You can start with a thick row of mulch (pine straw, pine bark.... and then start packing a row of pots/plants, then a thin row of mulch, followed by another row of plants, until they are all 'bedded' or 'healed in'. Pine bark will hold just enough moisture, and insulate the roots. For additional protection you could add a thin layer of pine straw, leaves, or frost blanket.
    Next spring you can use the mulch elsewhere, and it's a lot easier to move than soil.
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  4. #4
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    I have always used the standard size for all of my raise beds and so called ponds. Sometimes I fill the openings, sometimes I don't the trick is to lay the top row with the opening facing out or cap the row with steppoing stones or patio blocks. You can also stuff newspapers, old plastic flower post or anything else that will fit, this gives more surface area for heat retention.

    Those holes in cinder blocks actually have an insulating quality about them. I have a 2 block hig raised bed in front of my "pond", and although the top block is capped with the patio block I didn't fill the holes. The soil in the raise bed stays cooler in summer and warmer in winter than any flat beds. Plus this raised bed is on top of the concret patio so drainage can be a problem. Fortunately I have found that the block walls also breathe and help remove any excessive moisture. What ever I plant in that bed/planted does really well. I even have a few white Tiger Lilies in that bed and they do grerat. This bed has settled to maybe 9 inches deep! I haven't lost a plant from that bed yet!

    So, Cathy, use the standard blocks and later they can be used for other things. I have to re-do my patio next season and I am planning on utilizing all of the concrete "cinder" blocks I have in various places around the back yard when I do it. I hope to even plant a bunce of them with various herbs and ground cover types of perennial plants. If I have enough blocks I also hope to do a planter that will hold at least one of my Blue Rug Junipers that are now growing in pots. (I should say still growing in pots and I've had them for at least 4 years, maybe 5!)



    Rebecca
    Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
    - R. Buckminster Fuller

  5. #5
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    Hmmm. Well, I managed to get 30 cinder blocks in a 4 door Toyota Corolla ! I sooo need a truck !
    I checked the message board b4 going there and saw Sue's reply, so don't whoop me when I tell you that I got the thinner ones I layed out 2 sides and they seem OK. Rebecca's post sent me into at least 5 minutes of deep reflective thinking that ended with,'&*%$ it, I always make the wrong choice'. But maybe not. I realize the biggest drawback is that I cannot stack them..easily. BUT, on the other hand 30 of the big ones would not have fit in the car. [Insert more rationaliztion here].

    Now, Tom, you caught me in the nick of time and I do like your suggestion. I was ready to see how many 40 pound bags of Wally World's finest potting soil(ahem) could fit in my little Toyrolla. But, cypress mulch(sorry, that's what they got here) weighs a whole lot less(I would prefer pine bark,too). There will be a 50 cent difference(I hope HD still has mulch for $2), but it is alot easier to handle than dirt. Also, I would have to buy soil ammender so that probably makes the diff. I do know that the colder it gets, both soil and mulch disappear from the store shelves.
    I have oodles of pine needles BUT there was some white stuff growing on it this summer and that worries me--don't want to contaminate the young 'uns.

    I'll have to dump a bag of mulch and see how much room it takes up.
    Well, suffice to say,I now have plenty to ponder on tonite !
    [insert sound of sqeaky hamster wheel here].
    "If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come"




  6. #6
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    I'll have to dump a bag of mulch and see how much room it takes up.
    Well, suffice to say,I now have plenty to ponder on tonite !
    [insert sound of sqeaky hamster wheel here].


    Come on now, you are going to get our math teacher all upset with talk like that!
    Those bags come with either 2 or 3 Cu Ft of mulch. Measure the length X width X depth and you will know how many bags you will need of what ever you plan to fill with. You do not need much media between the interior pots, but don't forget to include their contents in your calculations.
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

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    I'll try
    Attached Images  
    "If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come"




  8. #8
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    OK, my brain is back... I came up with 29.6 bags of mulch at 2 cu ft / bag. That is b4 adding plants to the bed. It was just suggested to me by DH that I try 10 bags at a time( recall the Toyrolla).
    "If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come"




  9. #9
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    Cathy,
    You do need a truck. I don't know what I'd do without mine.
    While you are all doing mathmatical calculations I need to comment on Rebecca's saying she is going to plant herbs in the block openings.
    I have the large cinder blocks at the back of my bed in the back yard. It is perfect for growing herbs in the holes. I have done it many times and they grow well there. Also annuals do well. And it gives me some added color and flavorings for the kitchen. Thyme is especially pretty in the blocks as it hangs over the blocks. It looks pretty,smells good,tastes good and the blooms are pretty and dry well. What more could one ask for.
    tennessee sue

  10. #10
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    Cathy, you need to do some reconfiguration, you are talking about over 2 Cu Yd's of mulch. Remember, you only need about 6-8" of depth, and the plant root ball will take up a large portion of that. You only need enough between the plants to keep them upright. So the majority of the space will be consumed by the plant containers. Take a measure of one container, figure the Cu Ft in it, and subtract that times the number of plants from the total.

    If the mulch comes in 3 yd containers, you will only need 20 to fill the space. Get 10 bags, and start. See how many plants you can do with that before hauling 30 bags in that toyrolla. (I lke that name)
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  11. #11
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    I'm still at it. This morning I found a bag with straw in it and started to use that. I had 4 bags of mulch already. I then started hauling up pine needles. I might be able to finish it out with pine needles. After that I will add some soil to some of the plants that got jostled. As far as 'top mulching'; I guess I'll try to buy the cypress mulch if I can find any**. I do like to use cotton hull mulch on all my daylilies in the winter and know that that will definitely happen.

    **Good thing I didn't go with the soil idea. WM had zero potting soil and you know it won't be back til spring !
    I'm just hoping HD has the mulch.
    "If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come"




  12. #12
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    Cathy,

    Pine straw will work as well, if not better than any bagged mulch for topping off the potted plants, and I'll bet you can get tons of it for the time it takes to gather it up. Why pay for mulch when you can get something better for FREE?!

    Wish my car was running as I would love to be gathering pine straw this fall. Will just have to make do withthe leaves the neighbor rakes out of his yard.

    Didn't have enough plastic sheeting to completely cover the plant stand, but have been improvising. Most of the back is open, but against the house and I had a piece in the basement that had been used on one of the stands down there, so I taped it over the north end. I have a blanket over the soount end for now. That will eventually be replaced with a plastic shower curtain (more than likely). It will have to do. Maybe once my finances are more stable I'll be able to do what I would really like to do with this plant stand/cold frame.




    Rebecca
    Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
    - R. Buckminster Fuller

  13. #13
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    Total washout today; rain came much earlier than predicted. Rain is supposed to keep up for a few days. Wednesday night and Thursday night look like blanket nights(not freezing but uncomfortably close). I plan to make one last push next weekend as far as winter prep of plants. Cannot find cheap potting soil(I ammend it) on my side of town; will have to check side of town where I work.). I need it to top off the bagged daylilies and others in my makeshift corral. I also want to reset all my potted lily bulbs which are now in the garage. Holy smokes I must have about 25 pots !
    I also need regular houseplant potting soil for a huge peace lily rescue; the poor thing is root bound in a small pot and it is tremendous.
    Finding gardening stuff gets more challenging this time of year.
    "If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come"




  14. #14
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    Spent my lunch time tracking down potting soil. Letís just say Iím glad I didnít wash my white jacket this weekend. Went to HD, WM 1 and WM 2. WM 2 had the potting soil that I wanted (although it was mud from being outside) and had 3 broken bags of Expert potting soil that I got a 30% discount on. Iíve been using a gift debit card that I got from work. So far Iíve bought the dirt and the cement blocks with it. LOL!
    "If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come"




  15. #15
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    How lucky you were to find any kind of potting mix at Wally World!

    Glad I was lucky enough to still have the mulch, some peat and the recycled mix to mix up for planting my seeds in.

    Raining today so won't be getting any more pots filled for the CLemtis, and I won't be sowing any of the lily seeds either. Maybe tomorrow, if the prepared pots aren't too wet. Of course I'll have to borrow some soil from my cache in the basement to cover with, but it won't take very much since they brely need to be covered. Will have to mulch them down with leaves though and that might be interesting since they will all be wet from the rain.

    May I ask why in the world you are wearing a white coat to begin with when working with the plants? Are you just so keen on doing laundry or what?


    Rebecca
    Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
    - R. Buckminster Fuller

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