Railroad Ties and Gardens

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I have some old railroad ties that have gotten even older still lining the driveway for a long time. They are old enough that they almost look like old wood instead of black like normal ties. I would like to use them to make a raised garden. Has enough of the preservative leached out by now to make them usable for a vegetable garden? What about old phone poles--again they are very old and look like old wood.

-- Tex in Colorado (something@something.com), June 29, 2001


I've read alot of pros and cons about it. I'd say that I'd use them. Just my opinion.

-- Doreen (bisquit@here.com), June 30, 2001.

Aren't they soaked in creosote? I personally would hesitate using them near where I'd have my veggie garden. Flower gardens, landscaping would be okay, Just not leaching into the ground near food plants.

-- Judi (ddecaro@snet.net), June 30, 2001.

You could use them and line the bed with black plastic as abarrier if your concerned about leaching. Once a raised bed is made it shouldn't need any more rototilling anyway. I used these technique when planting over sewage drain fields to avoid crop contamination and utilize more of our property.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (jayblair678@yahoo.com), July 01, 2001.

If they are over twenty years old, there IS no preservative. They used to use bare wood and replace about every ten years. The black is from the train exhausts, and should by now be inert.

I've used ties for gardening since my grandmother started getting them every time the tracks were replaced. Nothing untoward in the veggies, neither taste nor chemicals (we had to test them because Gram wanted to go for organic status years ago). I've never lined them with anything, and nothing has ever happened to any one of us. Unless they were used recently for their intended purpose, go for it.

-- Sue Diederich (willow666@rocketmail.com), July 05, 2001.

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