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earth bag raised bed

 
pollinator
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I want to use sand bags to build raised beds about 2 foot tall. My land is sloped and there is solid clay about 6 inches under the top soil.  
I plan on coating the bags with a portland mix to a thickness of one inch. I will use a mesh of some kind also.  
Can I just put the bags on the ground without a gravel foundation?
 
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Yes, the bags will be fine straight on the ground, though I would clear any organic matter first.
 
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Dennis Bangham wrote:I want to use sand bags to build raised beds about 2 foot tall. My land is sloped and there is solid clay about 6 inches under the top soil.  
I plan on coating the bags with a portland mix to a thickness of one inch. I will use a mesh of some kind also.  
Can I just put the bags on the ground without a gravel foundation?



The drawback I see to it is that the walls will be so thick, it will be hard to reach the plants if you leave any appreciable size for the planting area.  You could sit on the bags, but you will have to twist around to reach the plants.
 
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How did you get on? I'm considering doing this myself but wonder if it is too much to take on. I've never done any kind of earth work before in my life.

 
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Nicole Anzai wrote:How did you get on? I'm considering doing this myself but wonder if it is too much to take on. I've never done any kind of earth work before in my life.



Hey Nicole! I saw your post in the PEP thread where you said you have a limited amount of space.  Earthbag planting beds are great for thermal mass and flexibility in design (curves for example.)  But they take up more room than probably any other option.  The earthbag walls are just under two feet thick.  So for example if you wanted to build a 4 x 8 foot grow bed, the actual footprint would be 8 x 12.  

There are many options for thin walled raised beds.  Corrugated metal roofing is a popular one, with a wooden frame to support it.  Rot-resistant woods such as cedar or cypress can be turned into beautiful beds.  There's ferrocement.  Not sure how eco friendly it is, but its definitely thin and flexible.  Bricks are another option.  If space is not a problem, then yes, earthbag raised beds work well.  Although you have to reach 2 feet to get to the plants.
 
Dennis Bangham
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Hi Nicole,
 
I got side tracked when I ended up buying the lot next door to my house and am clearing it to make an orchard.  
I have started to lay the bags and since my walls are only around 2 foot tall it does not matter that the soil I am using is almost all sand.
After filling the bags are only 11 inches wide and around 16 inches long.  I do need to have this done to keep the roots on my blueberries from freezing.
20201024_085401.jpg
wall around blueberry wicking beds
wall around blueberry wicking beds
20201024_085500.jpg
smaller bags used
smaller bags used
 
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