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Thread: Wood for raised-bed garden

  1. #1
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    Default Wood for raised-bed garden

    I am getting ready to build my raised bed veggie garden, but the timber we have has set out in the weather for a while and is really wet and has this white fluffy "moss" on it. Should i clean it off (and so how?) or will my seeds be ok and not clean it. it's going to be a big bed....2ft. high 3ft. long and 8ft. wide.... i specifically want it this way because i want plunty of soil area sence our back yard does not drain and to keep the dog out of it.

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    Without seeing pictures of the 'white fluffly substance' my guess is that it's a fungus; probably specific to the type of wood, the humidity present in the wood, etc.

    I tend to use fresh-cut rails or poles made from relatively uniform diameter spruce, aspen, etc. Often from the upper lengths of the taller trees. They'll rot eventually, but by piling the soil away from the edges of the beds, toward the middle, the poles can be replaced later with a bit of effort.

    I have a policy of not using pressure-treated lumber or railroad ties near any food-vending plants. That said, I'm told by a former attendee that the instructor(s) of the local master gardener's class had stated that pressure-treated lumber was o.k. for raised beds, etc.

    I'll watch their health from a distance, and decide for myself...

    As to the fungus, molds, bacteria, microbes, etc., are rampant throughout most healthy soils. Most require specific conditions to thrive. A fungus that grows on a specific wood, likely will not grow on the soil itself, due to sufficiently different characteristics between the two.

    I wouldn't be too worried about it. I get bright yellow-orange fungus (like a tree or wood mushroom) growing on the spruce rails in my raised beds, and it hasn't caused any notable harm to the soil or fertility/productivity of the garden.. (Every now and then the hallucinations get bothersome, but other than that.... ;^>) Just kidding..).

    Most (not all, but most) of my raised beds are 16" to 18" deep, and average 4' x 8' in the area inside of the poles/railings. Some are as shallow as 6" (spinach, lettuce, and snow peas), and some are about 12" deep.

    I think that you'll find that most plants that grow well in this climate (I'm in the Interior) tend to be what are commonly referred to as 'shalllow rooted plants.' The upper layer of sol is often more permeable, and definitely warmer.

    In your case, you're apparently trying for increased height/depth in order to create a partial barrier for dogs getting into the beds.

    We erected a 'moose-proof' (also more dog-proof) fence around the garden for that, using 10' pressure-treated posts, sunk 3 feet into the ground, and running two rails; one at 7' and one at 4'. There's welded galvanized wire fencing of 4' height to the first rail, and a 3' section above that, to the 7' rail. They're applied with heavy electrical staples. We also have a transformer rated for a 15 mile stretch of wire, as I told the feed store that when a particular cow moose with whom I routinely disagree on issues of personal boundaries goes to access my garden, I want to smell charcoaled moose burgers cooking. ;^>)

    It works for dogs too, though the smell isn't quite as appetizing.. ;^>)

    Good luck

  3. #3
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    I guess that I could've added that the fresh-cut poles last a bit longer, often have fewer strange critters growing on them, etc.

    If you're -really- worried about the growth, you can scrape it off. You could even spray the poles with a well-diluted bleach & water solution, as long as you leave the poles to set in the sun afterward for a lengthy period, sufficient to allow the chlorine to evaporate fully before applying them to your beds.

    But consider that there's already some evidence of them degrading, and fresh-cut poles will take longer to get to the phase that your older ones are already in.. (Also, I guess that I was/am assuming that you're not talking about pressure-treated rails here... which can also get a sort of fungus on the -exterior- of them..)

    ruffle

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    That said, I'm told by a former attendee that the instructor(s) of the local master gardener's class had stated that pressure-treated lumber was o.k. for raised beds, etc.
    Not true, the class goes as far as offering safe alternatives to extend the life of non treated wood. They specifically mention that the wood is treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate as well as other chemicals which are not safe.


    Use the wood you have it should last for several years, as you have the time and funds it can be replaced with cedar or sythethic wood such as trex. or if you wanted you could go with straw bales or stone.

    As for the dog I suggest a minimum of some 36" welded wire.

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    I was under the impression that the green, ground-contact wood was treated with copper napthenate (spelling?). As I said, I don't use the stuff near veggies/fruits, but an attendee of our local class (a school teacher at that) stated that she was told that it was o.k.

    I've worked with it enough in treating our own wood products for construction to know that it's nasty, carcinogenic, and possibly responsible for some of the loss of circulation in my hands.

    ------------------
    whos96am

    As I suspected earlier, from the pics, which are somewhat limiting, the growth looks like a random wood fungus.

    You can use them as is, or you can take a gallon of water in a sprayer, and add 2-4 TBSP of bleach. After scraping the stuff off, spray them and then let the wood sit in the sunlight drying thoroughly for a couple of days.

    But it's not likely necessary.

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    Default Wood for raised-bed garden

    OK. Thanks for all of the advise ruffle. I'm going out on this beautiful day and start to build.

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    Default Wood for raised-bed garden

    sorry the photos weren't that good...i tried my best.

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    No need what-so-ever to apologize. The pics served their purpose, and were far better than nothing at all..

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    Default used/damaged metal roofing.

    I wanted to use wood, but I don't have the strength/time to mill logs. And the cost of buying the wood for what I wanted to do was way more than my budget.

    I scrounged corrugated metal roofing scraps and bought damaged sections from the lumber yard. Made boxes out of them with roofing screws. One of the beds, I set the bed box on a piece of wire mesh to keep the voles out. (This is the only bed that doesn't have vole holes at the bottom.) Secured them in place with t-stakes. Put in several inches of gravel. Then filled it up with dirt and compost.

    This is the 3rd year and I am really enjoying them. The edges can be sharp, so I have been playing with folding over the edges or finding something to clip over the edges to make them easier on the hands.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
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    Smile Raised beds

    Wow...the metal roofing looks like it does a great job.I have several raised beds that I made out of 4" logs, and get several years out of them.I too have to put wire cloth on the botton to keep out gophers.I have really noticed a big difference in my toms that I planted in 12" poly culvert pcs.That black plastic really absorbs heat.I also have mesh on the bottom of them.GR

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