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Posted: 12/14/2009 1:55:59 PM EDT
I'm getting a load of ties for other projects and was wondering if they would be suitable for a raised bed gardens.  My gut says no because I think the treatment on the ties could leach into the soil and taint the plants in the garden.  Am I right here?

Thanks as always.
Link Posted: 12/14/2009 2:48:44 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/14/2009 2:50:04 PM EDT by TAMUJeep]
I'd be kinda leery of the creosote.  There's a town not far from us that hat one of the telephone/tie treating plants...LOTS of people with cancer...class action suit finally settled.


ETA:

On second thought looks like they lost the suit...

CLICKEE
Link Posted: 12/14/2009 3:11:36 PM EDT
No, not really a good idea.

Fine for ornamental landscaping but I'd not use them for a garden perimeter or raised bed sides
Link Posted: 12/14/2009 3:14:31 PM EDT
Plus you will have feral hogs rubbing their asses on them after eating your veggies.
Link Posted: 12/15/2009 5:00:28 AM EDT
Originally Posted By bobweaver:
Plus you will have feral hogs rubbing their asses on them after eating your veggies.


Thats not very likely in Michigan. Wild hogs are very rarely sighted in southern IN, let along Michigan.

To the OP, I would recommend against it.

It was years ago, I was watching a show like 20/20 or 60 minutes, I can't remember what it was, but there was a family that did this. They began having all sorts of medical issues and they couldn't figure out what the problem was. After the whole family was sick, they finally were able to trace it back to the treated railroad ties they used to make raised garden beds.
Link Posted: 12/15/2009 11:03:16 AM EDT
I've seen this done with a few precautions that seem to work.  You can treat the ties before setting them.  Coating them with a clear, non-toxic varnish can keep them from seeping anything out when it rains.  You could also try lining the inside of the beds with plastic after assembling (before filling with dirt).  Sure there are some stories out there about folks who've gotten ill using ties to make garden beds, but lots of folks use them with no issues.  The general concensus is the older and drier the ties the better off you will be.  Good luck!
Link Posted: 12/15/2009 4:45:47 PM EDT
Originally Posted By SigOwner_P229:
It was years ago, I was watching a show like 20/20 or 60 minutes, I can't remember what it was, but there was a family that did this. They began having all sorts of medical issues and they couldn't figure out what the problem was. After the whole family was sick, they finally were able to trace it back to the treated railroad ties they used to make raised garden beds.


I'm not questioning what you are saying but I'd be hard pressed to believe that old RR ties were actually the cause of their problems.  I would ber VERY interested to see how it is that they were able to determine that the compounds leaching out of old ties were the cause of their problems.  Most likely, that was used as an excuse.

Think about how long those ties have been out and exposed to the weather.  Having worked on the railroad before, ties are frequently out in the weather for decades before being replaced.  There is no way I would use a new ties.  I have had my skin blistered from working with fresh ties on a very hot day.  The older ties are going to have most of the harmful compounds in creosote (PAHs, cresols, etc.) leached out that are going to leach out in the time frame they will be in a garden.

Other treated timbers would concern me a little more.  Those treated with Arsenic, Pentachlorophenol, or Hexavalent Chromium are much more likely to cause health issues than old creaosote ties.  I have not researched what they are currently using as wood preservatives these days but I think many are copper based.
Link Posted: 12/15/2009 4:51:00 PM EDT
I use concrete blocks. I would also use cedar logs if I could get my hands on some cedar.
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 12:12:31 AM EDT
I wouldn't, not for a food crop.
Link Posted: 12/17/2009 2:12:16 PM EDT
There's a place on the web that reported the results of testing of soil next railroad ties, I have no clue where it is or the url.  Some college or university did it the study.

The bottom line:  the creosote didn't make much past an inch or so from the ties into the soil; in fact, I recall that it was fractions of an inch.  

I'd do it, if I was a gardener, but I'd probably also line the interior with 4-6 mil plastic just for good measure.

FWIW.

Merlin
Link Posted: 12/18/2009 5:34:56 AM EDT
I just use those 3x5x8 landscape timbers you can get at menards/home depot for like 1.50-3.00 (depending on the time during the year).
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