railroad ties for raised bed?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Just wondering if I an you use railroad ties for a raised garden bed, or is the oil on them toxic?.
-- A. Christian (email@example.com), February 01, 2000
From what I've read in OG, Creosote treated RR ties should not be used for edibles. Sue
-- Sue Landress (Sulandherb@aol.com), February 01, 2000.
A. Christian You can use rairaod ties for flower beds but please do not use them for anything edible. the creosote will leach out into the soil and the plants will take it in through the root system. this will bring some very undesirable chemicals into the food you eat. Organic Gardening has done extensive reseach into this. This also applies to treated lumber. karen
-- KAREN MAUK (DAIRYGOATMAMA@AOL.COM), February 01, 2000.
Just to make you think--creosote is obtained by the distillation of wood tar and is used as a preservative and antiseptic. So says my dictionary. Now if it is used as an antiseptic can it be all bad? Especially when filtered down and dilluted through the tissue of living plants. I'm not pro or con on the subject, just giving you something to think about.
-- greenbeanman (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 01, 2000.
I've made raised beds with 3"thick concrete with 3/8" rebar. Two feet tall, four foot wide, eight feet long. Cheap,fairly easy, non toxic, and lasts a lifetime.
Materials for one raised bed this size (not counting form boards, which are reuseable) cost about $25. Mine cost less, as one of the eight foot lengths is not necessary, as I built the raised beds on a slope, and by terracing the slope, the vertical cuts became one long side for each raised bed.
Form boards (I used 1/2" wafer board at $6 each, work out to $18 if you do all four sides, but like I said, you can reuse the form boards.
The two foot height gives a very good growing medium. I have very very poor "soil" here. All my garden soil has to be imported. I get good drainage characteristics with the raised bed which would be impossible in my native "soil". Plus, I don't have to bend over so much to work the garden. I can even sit on the edge of the raised bed, if I'm doing a bunch of weeding (I have chronic low back pain).
If you don't understand my construction techniques, you should check out a book on concrete construction at your local library, or on the internet. Or maybe you can do a work trade with someone who knows how to form up short walls, and mix concrete.
-- jumpoff joe (email@example.com), February 01, 2000.
I don't use them. There seems to be a lot of evidence against them. If they are real railroad ties, they are NASTY. Garden center "railroad" ties aren't as bad, but I don't use them either. If you need to cut or drill them, they are a health hazard, plus you've got the sawdust to deal with. Any machining done on them will be hard on blades and drills, etc. Real railroad ties will have gravel in them. Plus on a hot day, they will SMELL and be STICKY. Makes gardening around them very unenjoyable.
There are other options for making raised beds. Certainly the cement beds already described. You can build raised beds using regular lumber, slab lumber (cheap or free from a sawmill), stones, bricks, various shapes of concrete either purchased or cast by you and laid up. Years ago I saw some nice looking beds (can't remember if they were terraces or raised beds) in a magazine. They'd been made from chunks of concrete sidewalks. Costs construction companies money to dispose of sidewalk waste. Great recycline idea. There are a lot of books that give instructions for dry laying stone walls. Check your library under gardening, landscape, outdoor projects.
It is also possible to build raised beds that don't have walls around them. One book that comes to hand easily in this mess (ceiling collapse in my library) is "Getting the Most from Your Garden" by the Editors of Organic Gardening Magazine. My copy is from 1980. ISBN (hardcover) is 0-87857-291-0. Gerbil
-- Gerbil (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 01, 2000.
An easy way to make raised beds is with 8 by 16 concrete blocks. I've done that for years. I also use the blocks to make compost containers. Then when they get full I put my plants right in. Another advantage of blocks is that you can move the location of your beds anytime you see fit. As for railroad ties or treated wood...I wouldn't risk it. Paulette
-- paulette mark (email@example.com), February 01, 2000.
Railroad ties are great for so many other purposes, that we try to get them when we can, but we don't use them for edibles, partly because of the adverse press on them from what I consider reputable sources, but mostly because they are messy, stinky, sticky, and, literally, a pain to sit on to weed.
-- Sylvia (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
A., Line the railroad tie bed with wooden shingles or plastic. I have raised beds made from channel-drain roofing. It is 12 inches high when placed on the ground and you can cut it to any length. The corners are screwed to 4 by 4 posts that are also 12 inches. I fill my beds with manure and shavings from the goat barn and have beautiful results. Vicki
-- Vicki McGaugh (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
I have some raised bed that were made with very old railroad ties, that I have my herbs in. They were constructed before I knew of the risks, so I used simple lumber, culled from dumpsters, for the beds that grow my salad greens. Railroad ties make beautiful flower beds, tho--and save the food-safe lumber for your other beds. Be careful-- some friends of ours had a bout with termites from railroad ties that they had used close to the house as a slope barrier. They were used ties. Check them out before you use them.
-- Leann Banta (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 06, 2000.
I will second the advice of Paulette (kiwi). I only use raised beds for herbs, and constructed them of treated 4 x 4's. However, I let them leach for several years before I used them. Concrete is pretty inert. Creosote is not even available anymore, and I think that is due to the insanity of Big Brother, who tells us what is good and what is bad. Politicos are pretty weird and universally untrustworthy. I have not grown an extra anything from having grown my herbs in a raised bed of "pressure treated" lumber. I guess I would avoid creosote only because it is a "toxic oil" that has a long life span. Avoid salads made of old railroad ties! But I can't see any downside with the concrete block. Relatively cheap, will never biodegrade, liftable by the piece, conducive to a plethora of sizes, and completely safe. Good luck!
-- Brad (email@example.com), February 06, 2000.