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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Wednesday - March 25, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Using Cement Blocks for Raised Beds
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Is it safe to use cinder blocks for box gardens? If not, what do you suggest?

ANSWER:

Generally there are a lot of people with testimonials online about successfully using cinder (cement) blocks for raised beds that contain vegetable or flower gardens. There are some people though that have concerns about excessive alkalinity leaching from the cement into already alkaline soils. Also some have issued warnings about toxins being present in the cement blocks. In both these situations they recommend using a concrete sealant and polymer paint before putting in the soil. And if you have concerns about the sealant or paint being close to edible plants, then a thick plastic liner can be installed between the blocks and the soil.

 

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