Cinder Block Party

The cinder block bed cover dusted with snow this morning.

For three years now, we’ve been growing early and late season greens in our cinder block raised bed, which is on an old cement patio at City Farm. The design is meant to be mobile (you can disassemble and reassemble it without too much effort), inexpensive (cinder blocks are cheap or easy to find), and flexible (it can be set up on a driveway, sidewalk, or patio and expanded or contracted as needed). You can also paint the outer surface!

This morning, in a reminder of winter, snowfall settled on the cover of the old greenhouse plastic protecting the young starts. The insulated greens inside are cold-hardy varieties (claytonia, arugula, spinach, cress, mache, and tatsoi), which were planted (after adding compost) about three or four weeks ago (I usually plant them in the middle of January, but this year the cinder block bed was covered in deep snow for a longer period of time).

A view of the cinder-block setup with greens.

The insulated walls of the cinder blocks are full of earth, which helps to keep the plants warm. These outer blocks are planted with dill, beets, and more spinach. As the season progresses, the greens in the main area will be harvested and replanted with warm-season crops (last year it was hot peppers, basil, and kale). After these have run their course, we will put down some more compost and plant it again for a late fall crop or let it go fallow until the spring. This has been a productive bed for us over the years, especially in the colder months. These greens will probably be ready for eating in two weeks or so. This time last year, we were harvesting nice little salads from this micro urban growing area.

—Rich (City Farm Steward)

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