Assembling Rock Jigsaw Puzzles

Many years ago I tried building a raised garden bed out of foundation stones from an old home site. I grew wonderful spinach in it all winter, but had major problems. The only solution was to take it down and rebuild leaving me again assembling rock jigsaw puzzles.

There were two major problems with the old raised garden bed. One was the wall construction. Since the rock walls were stacks of rough stone with gaps between them, every rain washed dirt out.

raised garden bed site
Once the old raised bed was removed and the dirt raked level, the site was ready to begin rebuilding. The old bed was up against the garden fence. The new one is a foot away. The bed shape and size will be dictated by the piece of welded 1″ x 2″ wire used as a mole deterrent under the dirt.

As the dirt washed out, the rock walls leaned in. Some parts collapsed.

The location was great for winter spinach growing. I needed plastic over the bed in really cold weather. The wire method from Straw Bale Gardening worked well for putting the plastic up.

Unfortunately wind got under the plastic and blew it around. The plastic had to be held down. Weighting the ends wasn’t enough. I finally ended up leaning lengths of cattle panel on the plastic.

pieces for assembling rock jigsaw puzzles
As I removed the rocks from the old walls, I set them in sections according to length. Depth separation would have helped. Few are rectangular. Sizes vary. Ends slant or are rounded or knobby. Almost all have at least one fairly flat side to go on the inside against the liner. Selection of each block is done carefully as they are heavy. And, as work progresses, I seem to need more rocks. Luckily the Ozarks has lots of rocks, many of them suitable for adding to my raised garden bed wall.

On warm days I wanted to slide the plastic down the wires and let the plants enjoy the weather. The panels were difficult to handle and a mess to work with.

The first problem had a number of possible solutions. One was to replace the stones with cement blocks. This was ruled out due to expense and, besides, I like the stones.

I could cement the stones together. This would require putting in a gravel foundation to protect the walls from winter freezes and thaws.

Building a raised garden bed using cement implies permanency. Judging from what has happened to the rest of this valley over the years, no one will use this bed but me. This place, like the others, will be allowed to grow up in brush and trees and used once a year by deer hunters.

challenge of assembling rock jigsaw puzzles
This raised bed has new end rocks from a place where they are no longer needed. Although I am trying to fit the rocks together closely, the spaces between won’t matter as much because I will line the bed to keep the dirt in the garden. What the rocks will do is gather heat to warm the garden during the winter, define the garden and look nice. The rock wall is a nice place to sit, if the rocks aren’t too hot.

Instead I will put up a liner of old roofing tin inside the rock walls.

The old raised bed is taken apart. The area is surrounded by piles of stones. I am again assembling rock jigsaw puzzles.

Assembling rock jigsaw puzzles is challenging. Each stone must be evaluated for height, width, length, flatness along three sides and top and bottom. Each is fit into place. That last stone in a row must be the right length or several stones get replaced until they all fit.

The bottom layer is done. Next I will construct the lining. The resident lizards are watching eagerly for the new raised bed and return of their basking stones.