The weather forecast suggested that yesterday morning would be the first and last chance for another few days to get out and get on with my garden project to build a small rectangular raised bed out of Woodblocx. Everything was wet, but the stormy wind had died right down and I set to work straight after breakfast. I marked out the position with metal pegs and removed the loosely assembled blocks to each side, ready to go right back into position. Then I cut and removed the turf, raked and roughly levelled the plot. Rain stopped play for half an hour, then during the respite I set about building without resorting to the sharp sand. Banging the plastic dowels into the pre-drilled holes in the blocks is kind of satisfying, but more like brute force and work than just clicking lego together! One or two blocks in the second layer wouldn’t fit easily onto the rising dowels below, but swapping blocks or turning one around was always enough to get there. The third layer was easier still and I finished off the top cover using a rubber hammer rather than a spare block as suggested. Once completed, along with a couple of other small jobs, that was the best part of the day over and I’m very pleased with the result. The woodblocx building system is not child’s play by any means but it’s nice not to have to resort to noisy power tools and the resulting construction is incredibly strong. My thoughts are that this may be slightly over engineered just for a small bed or herb garden, but I can see how the method is well suited to building a large retaining wall, garden steps, and especially to making a large koi carp pond with surrounding flower beds. It’s quite hard work banging all the bits together, but less so than digging a big hole in the ground! I wouldn’t be surprised to see somebody build a house with this one day.
I took the decision to site my raised bed herb garden just as seriously as I would siting a fish pond. The amount of direct sunlight needed to be maximised, but I also wanted relatively easy access from the house, and for the bed to be in a prime position where it will get plenty of attention and appreciation. No doubt WoodblocX can be used brilliantly to turn awkward corners and slopes into productive assets but I decided in the end that this first major project in the new garden, well after replacing the storm damaged fencing, deserved to take a pride of place location.
So there it is now, to the right of the pathway, away from the shade of the apple tree, in a place where we already like to sit and enjoy the late morning and mid afternoon sunshine, a little sheltered from prevailing winds and far enough out to avoid constricting a future garden room extension project that has yet to be even planned.
The WoodblocX are moved into position, but still only loosely assembled. I’ll take another couple of days to make absolutely certain I’m sure about this, and then set about preparing the ground for the final assembly. I have the spirit level now, but the ground is not too far off of level in any case. I don’t think I’ll be needing a bag of sharp sand to set the bottom layer into I’ll just remove some turf all round and then try to level the soil as best I can, using the spirit level and a string line with two pins. What could possibly go wrong?
Part three of my mini series about building a woodblocx planter shows the blocks as they arrived on the pallet and the shape the planter will eventually take by putting it together loosely on the deck.
And here is an animation video from Woodblocx themselves which happens to be the same design, showing how the parts are assembled to make the three row high herb planter.
The pleasant problem occupying my thoughts right now is that of deciding exactly where in the garden I want to build my planter. If it is to be used mainly for herbs, then it should be close to the kitchen back door, and in a sunny position. On the other hand, the woodblocx are a great tool for tidying up an awkward corner. The depth of soil and isolation could also make the planter ideal for growing some special kind of vegetable that needs a bit of extra care and attention. I shall think about it all for a few days, no need to rush into a decision at this stage.
I’m pleased to say that the Woodblocx kit has arrived already, enough to make a small rectangular raised bed herb garden and here is the unpacking video:
My initial concern that the plastic packaging had been compromised faded as soon as I checked the contents against the instructions and found that extras had been included anyway. There were four packets of 25 plastic dowels and the project requires about eighty four so there’s plenty of room to make a few mistakes, hopefully not!
The next stage is to look carefully at the potential placement and plan the ground preparation. Reading the instructions carefully, it would seem that my initial idea of partial construction before putting into place is a non starter due to the way the ground spikes have to go in with the bottom layer before any rigidity can take shape. So I may be off out to buy a spirit level tomorrow, a tool which for some reason I have not got.
Last year I moved house, leaving behind my old urban wildlife friendly garden with the small pond at the front and another at the back both created by myself in the 1990s. I also left behind the bog garden and the log-pile, the rockery, standing stone, micro meadow and the French walnut tree, Frankie’s champion conker tree and the famous rowan tree that had a song written for it. That’s all gone, left behind for the new owners to do whatever they will with.
The new house is quite different. It’s in a rural location with more land around it, and a slightly different climate. I’m actually on the Isle of Wight, across the Solent water off the south coast of England, just between the south east and the south west. The new garden doesn’t have a pond either large or small, so I shall probably end up installing one sooner or later but that won’t be my first priority. My main aim with the new larger garden is to put it into productive use. There are some old apple trees left over from when the land was an orchard, and I’m hoping to rescue some of them, the apples are good. There is also a beautiful Chilean Myrtle tree Luma apiculata which would be a crime to mess about with but everything else will be up for review once I’ve seem what’s there and how it all works together.
Lawns are not really very practical things so one of the first jobs will be to turn some of the prime positioned lawn area over to food production. There are two discernible vegetable patches already in existence and to these will be added a number of raised beds for easy access and to provide a depth of soil that can ensure plentiful crops of tasty vegetables without digging. To make the first raised bed, I’m hoping to experiment with a block building system, a bit like lego for grown up gardeners, called Woodblocx. They also do wooden block planter frames for garden ponds, so this could well be of interest to readers of the smallpond site here, since 2001.
There is a large established pond next door by the way, so the aquatic wild life is already in situ, I’m told there are frogs, toads, newts and slow worms present.