DIY Concrete Vegetable Garden


In my last post, I talked about my plans to build a concrete raised bed on top of my concrete patio for growing vegetables. Well, here it is! The low wall on the right was already there, and I built the bed out of concrete block and caps.

The new wall is 18 inches high, and total square feet just over 50. The wall is quite stable, considering it’s not mortared in place. My husband did the math: We needed 3 cubic yards of soil.

My friend, Laura, told me about a place in nearby Irvine to fetch organic soil, called Aguinaga Green. They recommended their 50/50 Humus mix. Another generous friend, Kelly, loaned us his truck, and my husband made three trips loading and unloading it. Soil is heavy.

After checking out the veggie seedlings at a couple nurseries, I ended up at Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach, an upscale nursery I usually just visit to window shop. (I almost didn’t go in after seeing all their holiday decoration up already. Really?) But their six-packs were in great shape, and they had what I was after, so I plunked down my $3 each. (A competitive price, actually.)
This is my helper, Jenny. The weather has cooled down and was in the high 60s most of the day.

The soil was so loose that it only took me a couple hours to plant them. (Jenny does a perfect “down-dog,” but not sure why she’s so tired!)

I had read that you can plant more closely in a raised bed garden–so that’s what I did. I do have some tidy rows in the middle and back, but started with a random planting of different lettuce, a mild Mesclun mix. I even stuck a Roma tomato plant in the far corner (I know. What was I thinking planting tomatoes in November. Call it an experiment if it makes you feel better.)

A close-up of the lettuce medley. I can just hear the snails starting to giggle with excitement.

The beet seedlings were beautiful. Apparently, a lot of people just grow them to harvest the “greens,” but I’m going for both the root and greens.

Strawberries (Sequoia) weren’t even on my list, but I thought what the heck. (My husband thinks I’m nuts planting these now.) Is it cheating when your seedlings are already producing fruit?

Okay, so I’m not a total fool. These Snow Oregon Sugar Pod heirloom peas are supposed to be fabulous. They don’t need staking, are relatively pest impervious and aren’t stringy. (I did a little homework.)

Everyone said Swiss Chard is one of the most sure-fire vegetables in a winter garden. If this doesn’t thrive, I know I’m in trouble. This is called Rainbow.

Cauliflower supposedly is a challenging plant. Word has it the stuff is crack for snails and slugs.
But the battle has begun. My first plan of attack is setting out little cups of beer–where I’ve had success luring and drowning them, be it happily. I do need a cheap source of beer; just not going to waste those two Anchor Steams in the fridge! I’m also going to line the perimeter with diatomaceous earth, which they don’t like to cross. And I will be patrolling with my flashlight as well.

I also have green onions (Green Bunching), spinach (Noble Giant) and planted several rows of carrots (Little Finger from Botanical Interests) and radish seeds (Easter Egg Blend, also Botanical Interests). I have some Italian Arugula from Renee’s Garden and a Gourmet Salad leaf lettuce mix from D. Landreth Seed Co (my favorite).
Now comes the hard part: keeping it alive and thriving! I have ordered a floating row cover to shield the plants from extreme temperatures and pests. I will give you an update as soon as I harvest anything.
Veggie Update Here!

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