Courtesy Martin Kronberg and Nina Sackett

One planter to rule them all—and you can build it yourself

Matt Bean  – March 31, 2020 | Updated April 2, 2020

Few raised bed planters are equally at home in your garden and Bladerunner. But if Postapocalyptic director Ridley Scott or real-life Iron Man Elon Musk were gardeners, you can bet they’d have a back yard full of these things. Yes, the Strawbelisk is the Raised Bed Planter for our time. 

If you’re sold already and want us to spare you the jazz hands, click here for a helpful 3-D model of the project, from Oregon-based creators Martin Kronberg and Nina Sackett. Theirs is not the first Strawbelisk to captivate Reddit, but it is without question the most ambitious.

“I served in the peace corps doing rural agriculture and gardening projects, says Sackett, who now works in financial services. “I knew whenever I got my own house I would build the garden of my dreams. I saw a picture on Instagram of somebody else’s smaller, less impressive Strawbelisk and Martin built this for me.”

That’s what a good partner should do, in our book.

Beyond its obvious purpose as a beacon for alien civilizations, the benefits of the Strawbelisk are twofold: Ground crops are elevated, saving you lumbar stress, and critters are thwarted. “The slugs have to be super athletic to get up there now,” says Sackett.

Part ziggurat to the gardening gods; part Aztec altar, The Strawbelisk sits like a space ship in your garden lording over the mere raised beds assembled around its base. From its crown, life-giving water (aka drip irrigation) furls efficiently downward, terrace by terrace, facet by facet.

“The irrigation is the best part,” says Kronberg. “It’s at the very end of the garden irrigation line because I didn’t want it to steal pressure. We ran a half-inch pipe up one of the sides, secured with brackets, and then I ran 1/4-inch drop tubes around the drain line threaded through the inside of the support posts, secured with little stakes as needed.”

Materials for the frame were cheap and easy to come by for the duo, who’ve started their own gardening consulting business. They popped down to the local building recycling center to stock up on lightly-used cedar shingling. With a 4×4 core frame and external joists made from 2x4s, the entire package cost less than the starter strawberries it now brings to life.

Unlike standard raised beds, the carpentry required for the Strawbelisk offers some challenges. Most notably, the angles created by the tapered sides, and the taper for each individual terrace. Martin works in tech—so his approach was to create the aforementioned Sketch-Up Model. But in practice? He found it easier to eyeball each level at a time.

“The takeaway is to not try to pre-cut everything all at once, but do it level by level,” says Kronberg. “At first we put the Strawberries in right away, but they’d get sucked into the dirt as it settled. So each level we would put in and fill with dirt as we went. A fat layer of sand and gravel on the bottom, sand surrounding the 4×4 in the middle, and so on. Let the dirt settle for a day or two, fill in more, and then plant.” 

Like any true monolith, the Strawbelisk provides no answers. Its presence emits an energy that merely amplifies your own. Raise no trowel in anger near the Strawbelisk, for your dill plants may molder, your dinosaur kale wilt, the aphids defeat in great number the bag of lady bugs you ordered over Amazon, which flew away the moment you dumped them on your blueberries anyway.

The Strawbelisk is the One Planter to Rule Them All. It is the Mordor of your culinary garden. The Strawbelisk is the bringer of manna. It is the fountain of youth. The Strawbelisk is chaotic neutral.

Or it will be, once you construct it according to the following plans—provided by owners Martin Kronberg and Nina Sackett.