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I have seen a few threads on rasied bed gardening and I am concerned with some of the stuff I am reading. Alot of people on here are suggesting using railroad ties soaked with creosote, and treated landscape timbers, and treated lumber.

This is a HUGE NO NO. Why would you want to put all that treated stuff into the ground that surrounds foods you are going to eat???

If you need to build a raised bed, use untreated lumber. I use small hardwood trees off my property and stack them up, and fasten together with nails and wooden stakes. This works great at building up the garden bed. Yes eventually the wood will rot, over YEARS. If you do not mind spending the money, use untreated cedar, or fir. The are weather and insect resistant.

Just think before you build up a raised bed, and what chemicals are used in that treated lumber you are using to raise it with. I for one would rather not have that stuff in the ground that food is grown in.
 

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Ditto ! Those chemicals will leach out into the soil and remain there for years. I have used cedar wood to build 16 inch high veggie beds, and then used rocks for fruit trees. My friend uses cement blocks to build their veggie beds.

If you are going to take the time to grow food, make sure you grow healthy food. ;)
 

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I agree. Unfortunately the previous owner of our place left a lot of treated logs marking out flower beds and such around. It was a bloody stupid thing to do in my opinion.

This is also the reason I don't use car tyres, black plastic and other synthetic materials in the garden because I am afraid of them leaching endocrine disruptors, heavy metals and other nasty stuff into my vegetable patch. The extra time spent hoeing weeds is of not much consequence in comparison to my mind. Not to mention that last spring I spent hours picking bits of shattered plastic out of the greenhouse because it just fell apart in the UV light.

Maybe I am overreacting on this issue but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
 

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I have a very clear memory from many years ago of standing back to admire the small garden area I had just created at the end of a driveway. I hadn't filled it with soil yet and as I stood looking at those stacked and sturdy railway ties my excitement and thrill began to deflate and be replaced with that emotion that can only be described as "Crap. What have I done?"

I certainly second the advise to not use treated wood for a veggie garden, although I have to admit I hadn't seen anyone advocate its use.

Cheers,
-Per.
 

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The same would go for telephone poles and tires i would think.

Natural materials wouls be much better, stones, trees or masonary
 
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Endure-Adapt-Overcome
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I use cedar or redwood to build my boxes. My friend down the road has pressure treated wood with 10 mil. fish pond liner over the wood. I still think the chemicals will be leaching into the ground and I don't think it's very safe, I have told him and he just thinks I'm crazy. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

I will be redoing my planter boxes this year. I plan to do 2X as many as last year and add more fruit trees.
 

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Wide awake
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I am tracking on not using pressure treated wood, but any thoughts on plastic containers for container gardening in winter? Plastic bottles and containers supposedly leak chemicals into our drinking water, so my guess is that my plastic pots are doing the same for my soil.
 

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as of late I have been using old pallats to make some of my smaller beds, they are untreated and make a small square 3x3 bed. my other beds (2 6x12) beds are made of cedar fence boards( it's what I had lying around)
I am in agreement about using treated lumber for any gardening.
BTW if you hunt, the pallats have 2x8 boards on some and most people LOVE to give them away
 

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Im with brutalsun im looking for pallets, I have scored about 14 that are in my basement storing hundreds of boxes (my vinyl record collection:). A plan to snag more for a few to construct a raised bed garden, and compost bin.
 

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With all due respect, I would like some links to official sites on the dangers of using railroad ties in gardens. I appreciate the concerns about putting chemicals in the very place that we grow crops, but is there any scientific documentation of what percentage of harmful substances are actually contracted by plants?

I've just seen too many people using ties, tires, treated wood, and plastics in their agriculture to be instantly converted by a few posts. No offense meant to anybody here. I just need more proof.
 

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With all due respect, I would like some links to official sites on the dangers of using railroad ties in gardens...
...No offense meant to anybody here. I just need more proof.
A fair question. Below are two links I located.

Other articles I seemed to indicate that the creosote soaked ties were o.k. if old or separated from the soil with plastic. Other sites spoke of the unknown chemicals contained in creostoe, it's dangers and government bans on its use.

At the end of the day, enough concern for me to choose a perfectly suitable alternative.


http://extension.missouri.edu/explore/agguides/hort/g06985.htm

"Certain national gardening publications have raised concerns about the safety of using treated lumber in food gardens. Pressure-treated lumber uses CCA (chromated copper arsenate) or ACA (ammoniacal copper arsenate) as a preservative. However, studies done by Texas A&M Agricultural Extension Service showed insignificant movement of these compounds into surrounding soil. Pressure-treated lumber has no proven effect on plant growth or food safety. However, on Feb.12, 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a voluntary decision by the lumber industry to move consumer use of treated lumber products away from a variety of pressure-treated wood that contains arsenic by Dec. 31, 2003, in favor of new, alternative wood preservatives. Alkaline cooper quaternary (ACQ) is a relatively new wood treatment that is available in some areas of the country. This product is higher in copper than CCA but is free of arsenic.

Creosote, which is used to treat railroad ties, may cause injury or death to plants that come into direct contact with it. After a few years the effect diminishes. Old, discarded ties do not injure plants (Figure 3). However, injury may occur if ties are still oozing black, sticky creosote or smell intensely. If you are uncertain about the safety of treated lumber, place a heavy plastic liner between the treated lumber and soil used for growing plants to prevent direct contact of plant roots with the treated lumber. Be careful not to tear the plastic when tilling the bed."



And

http://www.gardensimply.com/articles/mainten/ma24.shtml

"Of perhaps greater concern than contaminating your garden is the health risk that creosote presents to you. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have both found creosote to be a probable carcinogen. Low-level, long-term exposure can also cause reddened, blistered, or peeling skin, increased sensitivity to light, and eye damage. Preparing and handling the ties during installation and simply gardening around them could expose you to potential health risks. You could be allowing creosote to enter your body by getting it on your skin, ingesting contaminated food or soil, drinking contaminated water, or breathing contaminated air."
 

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Here's another article discussing leaching of arsenic (As) from CCA treated wood:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/yardandgarden/YGLNews/YGLN-June0101.html#as

The As distribution study confirms that CCA-treated wood in raised garden beds does leach As. Figure 1 shows that highest concentrations of As occur 0-1 inch from the treated wood, with a steady decline in concentration at greater distances. Sites 1 and 5 had the highest As contamination. Greatest variability in As concentrations occurred at 0-1 inch from the wood. Arsenic concentrations differed significantly at different distances from the treated wood. Differences among individual beds were also significant. There was also a significant bed and distance interaction. However, the results clearly show that the trend of high As concentration close to the wood and a decrease in concentration further away from the wood is consistent in all six sites.

Arsenic concentrations in US soils typically range between 3.6 and 8.8 ppm (McBride, 1994). A conservative risk analysis done by Dudka and Miller (1998) showed that As concentrations can reach 40 ppm without posing toxicological hazard to organisms or causing environmental risk. Sites 1 and 5, having soil concentrations near the wood of 55 ppm and 46 ppm respectively, exceed this limit. In fact, site 1 also exceeds the maximum permissible As concentration in arable soils (50 ppm) accepted by UK (Dudka and Miller 1998). The Danish EPA standard is much lower for arable land (20 ppm) (Helgesen and Larsen, 1998).


There are plenty of others online if anyone is interested.

In my opinion, even if the leaching is 'negligible' (yeah, I've heard that one before :rolleyes:) It's not worth the risk.
 

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oops, I've been planning on planting my spuds in tires this year. Info on site where I got the idea said that the tires would not leach. Whaduthink?
 

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Tires don't decompose, or at least the time period is so very long as it doesn't matter, nor do they leach chemicals. Wood is fine as long as it is not treated.
 

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Creosote contains what are considered to be carcinogens. There still may be some wood that was treated with PCP which contain dioxins. Some of the more recently treated wood that one finds at home depots as in landscraping timbers I thought should be safe, but I looked and EPA says that most are not safe. "acid copper chromate, known as ACC, as a wood preservative pesticide intended for residential use. ACC contains hexavalent chromium, which is a skin irritant and sensitizer and a known human carcinogen when inhaled. I am not sure what its fate will be in the soil and about uptake into roots.
There are some other formulations out there, but one should verify there safety prior to using them. the most common are: "Currently, at least eight chemical wood preservatives are registered for use in the residential lumber and timber market. These include ACQ-C and D, copper azole -A and B, copper naphthenate, copper citrates, copper dimethyldithiocarbamate, copper-HDO, and polymeric betaine. Of these chemicals, ACQ currently is the most widely used wood preservative for residential applications. It also has relatively low risks, based on its components of copper and quaternary ammonium compounds."

I typically use pine trees since we have a lot of them my part of florida.

Plastic decking boards are another alternative.
 
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