Raised beds for school gardens (pros-cons during a pandemic)

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kirsten...@gmail.com

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Aug 18, 2021, 3:50:13 PM8/18/21
to School Garden Support Organization Network
Hello!  

I could use some insight into some solid options for raised beds for school gardens.  

And yes, by "solid" I mean both sturdy & safe for school use and issue free (as much as raised beds can be).  

Before Covid, I was thinking Cedar with Raised Bed Corners (i.e. Gardeners Supply). Now wood prices are through the roof and not always available.

Issue -- any consumable plants need to be grown off the ground 18" or higher.  Our 5-7 year olds can be so small, that while they will make do with 2 feet tall gardens it's not very friendly.  

Second issue -- Stock tanks would be an alternative to wooden beds, but our test ones are starting to get rusty after only 5 weeks and there's the fear that they will have their own removal issues when it's time to replace them -- particularly the bottom of them.  

Third Issue -- We are testing out a process within our large school district, but ideally we want to be able to order a bunch of these and have them ready to install once we have the approval to go ahead.  

Does anyone have any experience with these or any other pop-up metal ones with kiddos?  How do they hold up?  (Pros are that they can store well and ordered through Amazon, and transportable in my van, and don't have a bottom.  And they are cheaper than stock tanks which I would also need to pay for delivery and unable to assure for a delivery date which sucks for schools) 



Any drawbacks?  Reasons not to? 

-- Kirsten Saylor
Grow Our Own Coordinator
Saint Paul Public Schools

Bennett Rock

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Aug 18, 2021, 5:47:18 PM8/18/21
to kirsten...@gmail.com, School Garden Support Organization Network
I can relate to your conundrum as we also are looking to replace beds. I suppose anything that holds soil could do. Have you looked into cementing cinder blocks together and reinforcing with rebar? I also wonder if a series of tall tree stumps could be lined up as a perimeter. Lastly, digging down into the earth provides the same if not better area for premium soil (sunken beds).
Please let me know what you decide on so our schools have this as an option.
--

Bennett Rock

School Garden Coordinator 

Explore Ecology Explore. DiscoverEmpower.

302 E. Cota Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

(608) 239-7825

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Bennett Rock

School Garden Coordinator 

Explore Ecology Explore. DiscoverEmpower.

302 E. Cota Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

(608) 239-7825

Bonnie Martin

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Aug 19, 2021, 9:21:57 AM8/19/21
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I've always preferred using cinderblocks.  My default is usually 2 high but 1 high can still support a vegetable garden's need for depth and be accessible to younger kids. Just make sure the width of the bed is no larger than 4 feet to be able to reach the center.  I have even made them 3 blocks high for accessibility needs when requested.  I have used cement adhesive between layers but haven't found the need to use rebar at 2 blocks high.  Gardens that were built over 10 years ago have never had to replace these beds and they still look as good as day 1. 

Bonnie Martin
Smart Sprout www.smart-sprout.com 

kirsten...@gmail.com

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Aug 23, 2021, 10:08:39 AM8/23/21
to School Garden Support Organization Network
Hi all!  Thanks for the suggestions and recommendations.  In addition to value (i.e. cost vs longevity vs ease), more factors for consideration are the height of the beds, and the second issue is that we usually have to squeeze them into available space.  Third issue is potential for leaching contaminants.  

Update: I got the Blueberry version for myself, but ended up sending it home because it was clearly not the same quality as the other metal raised bed I ordered.  

Has anyone tested or put together a pros/cons analysis of different types of beds (i.e. concrete, cinderblocks, wood, metal, trex, etc) for gardens?  Or has someone put together a "sample" garden where schools can come and check out different kinds of beds?  

Hope this finds everyone well!  

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