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Posts Tagged ‘garden’


Here’s a real nice example of integrating fruit trees, vegetables, aquaculture, composting, worms and beekeeping. This guy is getting hundreds or a thousand or more pieces of fruit off each small tree in a desert region near Joshua Tree where he was told “fruit trees won’t grow”.

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Raised garden bed made with compressed earth blocks (CEBs)

Raised garden bed made with compressed earth blocks (CEBs)


Many gardeners are familiar with Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening system: raised garden beds of any size divided into square foot (300mm) grids. It’s a very popular gardening system and he has sold over one million books.

With this method you can grow five times more plants in a given space with less maintenance. You’ll use less water, fewer seeds, and have healthier plants and fewer insect problems. Mr. Bartholomew claims it takes half the labor of typical gardening. You don’t even have to dig down in the soil, because the beds are raised above ground. This means you can grow plants almost anywhere, including areas where the soil is really bad. Instead of trying to fertilize and amend lousy soil over a period of years, you use perfect soil right from the start. In short, it’s a fantastic system and works well.

But there is one drawback. Mr. Bartholomew recommends wood for building the raised beds. He probably does this to keep things as simple as possible. Anyone can go to a building supply center, buy some boards and nail or screw them together. But most wood doesn’t hold up well outside, especially when it’s in direct contact with moist soil. In many cases the wood will rot in a few years and you’ll have to rebuild the beds.

We have chosen more durable materials for building the raised beds so we don’t have to keep rebuilding our garden. It’s a good idea to use what is affordable and locally available. In our area we have very inexpensive compressed earth blocks (CEBs for short), so that’s what we use. CEBs are made with a mixture of soil and about 10% cement that’s compressed in a machine.

You can read the complete article by Owen Geiger by purchasing the April/May 2011 issue of The Owner Builder Magazine.

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Earthbag Bench and Wood Arbor (click to enlarge)

Earthbag Bench and Wood Arbor (click to enlarge)


Arbor Close-up (click to enlarge)

Arbor Close-up (click to enlarge)


Add elegance to your backyard with this durable earthbag bench and stylish arbor. Using this simple method and renewable resources, you can build a beautiful bench and arbor for a cozy backyard retreat.

Benches and arbors can turn an ordinary space in your yard into a striking focal point. They’re ideal for relaxing and for special, romantic moments. Do you have a quiet area of your yard or garden that could be enhanced with a love seat and arbor? This project is easy to build and can be completed in about three days for about $125.

I tried to make the earthbag bench and arbor affordable, easy to build and easy on the environment. You can use recycled wood for the arbor because it will soon be covered in plants and no one will notice slight imperfections in the wood.

The bench consists of a stone foundation and plastered earthbags, which are polypropylene rice bags filled with gravel.

After you’ve gained experience building this small bench, you’ll be ready to take on larger earthbag building projects, such as the Low-Cost Multipurpose Minibuilding Made with Earthbags.

You can read the entire article for free at Mother Earth News.

Image credit: Meemee Kanyarath

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