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dpf48
raised vegetable beds

My son is trying to come up with ideas on a raised vegetable garden. It is for his Eagle scout project. Someone wants to give him some large crates to use(12'L x 3'W x 3'H) not sure what wood they are yet but he was think of sealing them on the inside. Is there a sealer that can be used that is food grade to help the wood to last longer?

ordjen
Re: raised vegetable beds

dpf,

Just a couple thoughts:

3 feet deep is way deeper than most raised beds would be. Half that with an open bottom would be closer to normal.

A couple feet of dirt puts alot of outward pressure on the sides of the container. How strong is the crate?

Any of the common woods that would be normally be used on crating would be highly susceptible to rot, especially when subjected to ground contact and constant watering and organic material.

Any of the wood preservatives have chemicals not good around edible plants. You might consider lining the crate with very heavy (6 mil)plastic.
The bottom can be left open to the ground, but at least puncture the plastic to let water out if it is completely lined. Fasten the plastic down on top with batten strips.

You could stain the outside of the crate, but frankly, that will be more for appearance than anti-rot.

dj1
Re: raised vegetable beds

Unfortunately all woods rot in the ground, some fast and some less fast. If you plan to eat what you grow, you can't spray anything on the wood, not inside and not outside. I wouldn't.

What we do at home, is use cedar or redwood and replace it after 3 seasons.

keith3267
Re: raised vegetable beds

Most eagle scout projects don't usually have to last that long, so wood treatment isn't really necessary. One summer would be enough. Now if this is a community garden project for handicap citizens, then durability would be needed. That would also be the only reason to make it 3' tall. Otherwise 4" is usually enough.

One thing I like to do is get about 12 wheat straw bails, till an area about 15x6, pile all the dirt in the middle, leaving a 4" deep by 18" wide trench around the edge. I place the straw bales around the perimeter in the trench, then smooth out the dirt in the middle. I usually end up with the dirt about 4" below the level of the straw bales.

I add a few organic amendments and plant in this, add mulch as the plants grow. The straw breaks down over the summer. The next year I have a nice raised bed without a border, but it doesn't really need one.

dpf48
Re: raised vegetable beds

Keith, I disagree that the project does not have to last very long. It should be there for a long time. The crate is thicker than I thought, checked them out yesterday. They are made of 2x6 planks with a 2x4 banding on the top and bottom(it may be fir). They are to tall but I think he can cut them down. They came from Sweden

ordjen
Re: raised vegetable beds

I am assuming that the boards are verticle and held together by the "banding". I would consider cutting them into 3 - one foot sections and then applying a new banding using pressure treated lumber. The pressure treated would be in ground contact. Since it is isolated by the crating lumber from the soil inside , I doubt that the PT chemicals would be of great concern. I would then get heavy gauge 6 mil plastic and completely line the boxes, affixing the plastic to the top edge with cedar boards. Do make slits in the bottom of the plastic to allow for drainage, otherwise you will have created a good mud wrestling pit :)

keith3267
Re: raised vegetable beds
dpf48 wrote:

Keith, I disagree that the project does not have to last very long. It should be there for a long time. The crate is thicker than I thought, checked them out yesterday. They are made of 2x6 planks with a 2x4 banding on the top and bottom(it may be fir). They are to tall but I think he can cut them down. They came from Sweden

I think you misunderstood me. For an eagle scout project, it does not have to last that long, but there can be any number of other reasons that it should. For a long lasting raised bed, wood, any kind of wood, is not the best choice. Some kind of masonry would be best. The big problem with masonry is that it is difficult to remove when it is no longer desired.

There is a food grade mineral oil that will help extend the life of the wood. Personally, in most cases, I just pile up the dirt and flatten it so there are no sides other than dirt. I do occasionally do the wheat straw bales for sides, but at $5/bale, its not very cost effective.

Also, I live in the south where raised beds are not as good an idea as it is up north. They get too hot and dry in mid summer, but they do work for some crops like sweet potatoes.

victoria stiles
Re: raised vegetable beds

Raised vegetable beds are a fantastic method of growing vegetables. They allow you to dictate the soil type whilst.

Re: raised vegetable beds

I'm kinda curious what could come from Sweden that needs a 12' tall by 3'x3' crate made from 2x6's????

I hope they are not dumping their abominable snowmen abroad again.... lol!

dj1
Re: raised vegetable beds
Ian Anderson wrote:

I'm kinda curious what could come from Sweden that needs a 12' tall by 3'x3' crate made from 2x6's????

I hope they are not dumping their abominable snowmen abroad again.... lol!

This is exactly the trouble with free trade. But what do I know about economics, I didn't go to Harvard.

BTW, are you the guy from Jethro Tull?
Could not pass on it :D

Re: raised vegetable beds

DJ1, sadly not! My knees wouldn't be up to hopping around on one leg these days. Not to mention a distinct lack of flute playing skills lol!

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