Railroad Tie Gardening Creosote

Discussion in 'Gardening and Agriculture' started by TechAdmin, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

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    I need to build another raised bed and a friend gave me some really old railroad ties to use. I bet these things are over a decade old. Is there really that much risk in the Creosote leaking into my soil and into the vegetables? I keep reading mixed opinions about it.
     
  2. SonOfLiberty

    SonOfLiberty Guest

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    I've always been taught to avoid them, as well as treated lumber, when making raise bed gardens.

    Dunno. The opinions are mixed of course. Question is, if you're going to use a garden to feed yourself and your family, are you willing to bet your life and their lives on the question?
     

  3. EvilTOJ

    EvilTOJ O_o

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    Well I'd say betting your LIVES is a bit much, but the possibility of getting sick is there, for sure. I think if you don't see creosote on the beams themselves then they are probably alright. If it were me though, I'd line the inside of the beams with plastic anyways just to keep them from touching the soil I'm using to grow with.
     
  4. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    I'd say avoid them. I've seen railroad ties that are over 100 years old and they look like they were made yesterday. Creosote is pretty evil stuff and those ties have lots of it in them. You could probably saw off the outer layer - I'm not sure how deep in the stuff goes. However, that would get rid of the preservative element that the creosote provides.
     
  5. northernontario

    northernontario Well-Known Member

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    While I've never cut one... I'm pretty sure you'd have to cut the majority of the wood off to get anything resembling real clean wood.

    Have you thought about ceder logs/posts/rough-cut lumber?
     
  6. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

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    Opted for cinder blocks. Read a bunch tonight. Always thought it was a no-no and most opinions seem to agree. "Might be ok, but not worth the risk."

    Going to use the ties for a raised area for the kiddos to play in.
     
  7. northernontario

    northernontario Well-Known Member

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    hehe... not good enough for the garden, but good enough for the kids? ;)

    (We used to play on a raised bed like that as kids all the time... and I'm perfectly healthy.)
     
  8. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    Add some pressure treated wood and the kids are all set for tumors a poppin'!

    ;-)
     
  9. Expeditioner

    Expeditioner Well-Known Member

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    I would avoid using the ties...the creosote does leach out. I had a pond tested and it was found to have traces of phenols and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in it....the only identifiable source present were the railroad ties that I had 30 feet from the pond.
     
  10. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

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    the advice that it isn't worth the risk is probably sound, but we've been doing it for years & haven't had any side effects

    tick tick

    we've been doing it for years & haven't had any side effects

    tick tick

    we've been doing it for years & haven't had any side effects

    :D
     
  11. Expeditioner

    Expeditioner Well-Known Member

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    Its all a function of exposure.......so Blob have you started showing any signs of mutation???? :p
     
  12. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    He's called Blob! What do you think? ;-)
     
  13. Expeditioner

    Expeditioner Well-Known Member

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    lol............................
     
  14. bananagoatgruff

    bananagoatgruff Junior Member

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    we always used them for flower beds and I never noticed any degradation of the flowers...
    I to grew up playing in sand boxes made from creosote ties...no tumors here just remember some vicious splinters...my guess after 25 years in the food business, all the poison in our food supply...that would be a minimal concern...I might line it with plastic if I had enough left over...
     
  15. Redtail

    Redtail Well-Known Member

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    DUde, don't line it with plastic, that ruins the advantages to drainage that raised beds provide.

    It might be pricey, but consider using composite deck boards for your planks. THey're sturdy, impervious to weather, and they don't leach anything worth considering.
     
  16. bananagoatgruff

    bananagoatgruff Junior Member

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    raised beds

    that sounds like a good idea...
     
  17. LincTex

    LincTex Jack of all trades?

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    Just do the sides only, where the ties contact the soil. The bottom can stay open.
     
  18. turkeydog

    turkeydog Member

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    and asphalt doesn't leach into the water table either, so all the roads in the country have nothing to do with water pollution....
     
  19. biobacon

    biobacon Track Layer

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    Just got some old wood from the wheel chair ramp next door, they built a new one, and was gona use them to build some raised beds but now Im not so sure.
     
  20. LincTex

    LincTex Jack of all trades?

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    Creosote and asphalt are really quite different.