bay area, Container gardening, Edible gardening, Limited space, Urban gardening

Cinderblocks in the edible landscape

I had 12 cinderblocks left over from a backyard seating project. I hit up Pinterest for ideas, and there were several cool ones. I debated between building a cinderblock seating vs using it for planting vs building a retaining wall. So guess what I finally ended up doing…

When we moved in to our home, this hill had lots of asparagus ferns growing and the soil was as hard as a rock. Our family weeded the ferns and got rid of a few bushes and small trees that was taking over the space prior to planting a nectarine and apple. In an effort to optimize the space further, we loosened the soil, added gypsum, and heavily mulched the hill last year. This year I added 2 cu yards of compost to build the soil further. Since this area receives the morning sun and stays sunny for a good part of the day, I wanted to use this space strategically for the purpose of edible gardening. The hill was planted with 4 grapes, nectarine and an apple tree last year. This year, I added one more grape plant, couple more apples in containers, which I purchased for 4$ at Lowes in the clearance section, a gooseberry plant in a container, and transplanted the guava tree to the ground. With an increase in soil thickness, the little hill got taller, and I had to contain the soil to prevent a run off during the rains. The space I wanted to retain was just perfect for the 12 cinderblocks that I had handy. So, I went ahead and laid them in a straight line, leading up to the concrete pad. While doing so, it opened up an additional 2 sq ft width of space along the entire length. In this extra space I planted 12 pepper plants and several chamomile.

I was also having plans of clearing up the 4*4 strawberry patch, that had several runners. The berry patch, although productive has been difficult to maintain over the years. The patch was already 3 year old and was begging for maintenance. Bugs would half eat most of the berries making it less useful. Moreover I needed this prime space for growing other vegetables that I wanted to experiment this year. There were about 40-50 healthy looking strawberry plants that I needed to transplant. After filling up gallon sized pots, and various ceramic containers and crates, I still had about 30 plants to house!

It is just fantastic when one project opens the doors for the next. In the cinderblocks, I initially wanted to plant flowering plants such as mums, chamomile or marigold to act as companions for the edibles in the west hill. But, since I had 12 blocks, with 2 holes each, it was just about the right number of holes to house the berry plants! Moreover, I had the drip irrigation already working in this section, which would be very useful for the strawberries once the heat dials up.

Although there are concerns with cinderblock planting – with excessive heat retention, drying out the soil and burning the root systems, I figured I can figure out a watering schedule. I had also read about the blocks leaching and alkalinizing the soil. I decided to experiment with the planting this year and add coffee grounds to the acid loving strawberries in hopes of neutralizing the PH. For now, in the past several weeks I have been regularly harvesting at-least 6-8 strawberries every alternate day. They are mostly pest free, clean and readily accessible.

Enjoy the video of the west hill and the strawberry plantings in cinderblocks.

Had I not planted strawberries or flowers, I would have grown radishes. 4 per cell would be just the perfect number, and easy to manage successive planting for a continual harvest.

Have you used cinderblocks for planting? What edibles do you like to grow in them? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Thank you for reading and Happy Gardening!


1 thought on “Cinderblocks in the edible landscape”

  1. I have not done it, but have seen it done. It works nicely for succulents too, if there are some to cascade over and shade the exposed edge (so that it does not get so hot).


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