I’m newly discovering boundaries. In the garden. Before I liked to just make big berms, toss some seeds in, and call it a garden bed. But then I noticed people seemed to not know it was a garden bed and would stand there, on top of the lettuce. Of course you can’t blame anyone–how would they know? So, I’ve been dabbling with different border materials. One rule: they must be free.

The first came about because I had a bunch of these cinder blocks around. I think I found them on a corner a few years back. So far they are making a good border. Obviously they are sturdy. I like that I can plant into the little holes–herbs only, though, because I think once summer hits these blocks will get hella hot and dry. There’s something very Soviet era about this garden bed. Not sure I love it.


Then there’s this totally jankity bed.

One of my volunteers delicately mentioned that she wouldn’t want to use these slabs of concrete as edging. “Why not?” I asked, so proud of my stacking abilities. “It looks a little…messy.” Now that I look at the photos, she is absolutely right. I am not smitten with this material. But, have I mentioned that it is free?

Finally, my fav: stumps. This too is pretty messy looking. But a woodsy mess as opposed to a rubble mess.

Here’s the car that loaded all the stumps. I nearly destroyed the leaf springs or something like that. You can find more stumps and logs at Hearst and 4th in Berkeley, near Import Tile, where the day laborers wait. And maybe you’ll see me too. I don’t think I’m done yet.

Remember: Farm Work Day Tomorrow, March 14, 3-6pm. At 2727 Martin Luther King. Bring a friend, and get ready to work it baby.

8 responses to “Stumptown

  1. I love the stump beds! I wish I had enough room to do that. I’m using salvaged sheets of wood to make my beds so that the walls take up the minimal space. I had a question, I’m going to be in your area the last weekend of this month (30/31 of march) for a going away party. I live in Los Angeles. Would it be possible to stop by and tour the farm? I’ll totally bring you a jar of lemon curd for the trouble…


  2. I’ve got concrete you’re more than welcome too. I’ve taking out all my concrete from my backyard. I’ll even deliver it. My email is My name is Deejay

  3. love the stump bed. I live on a hill and love that I can use big ones on one side and short ones on the other and come out with a levelish garden! thanks for the tip. I live on the east coast, but would absolutely be at your work days if I could apperate. Blessings!

  4. love your innovation! and i kind of like your janky concrete bed. which brings me to ask, do you think it’s possible to build beds like that on top of concrete? most of my yard is slab and i don’t have permission to jackhammer it up. 🙂 ~ the girl around the corner from you.

  5. Dudette- with all those stumps you should really think about building hugelculture (or hugelkultur) beds, especially in your way-hot summer climate. As wood rots it gets spongy, and holds a shit load of water for a very long time.

    Google it.

  6. Re-purposing your concrete is an awesome effort! Don’t give up. You can, actually, begin herbs, trailing phlox, violas, Johnny Jump-Ups, etc., in the crannies between each piece.

  7. I like your urbanite borders. They are the modern version of the stone walls that farmers used to build with the stones removed from the farm fields.

    Let me know if you would like some horse poo today. I can bring a cubic yard or two. The poo has been breaking down in my yard for a month or so. It’s not smelling very poo-ey anymore. Cheers.

  8. brendan doherty

    hey- there are always stumps at Ploughshares garden – on Alameda.

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