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New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

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New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  donnainzone5 on 5/19/2014, 6:32 pm

The two 2' x 4' x 12" boxes I had made last spring are already rotting.  

Would it be safe (and appropriate) to switch these out to use as berry beds (raspberries and/or blackberries?).  Or should I just toss them out?
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Re: New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  Triciasgarden on 5/19/2014, 7:41 pm

If it were me, I would just keep using it until it falls apart.
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Re: New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  Marc Iverson on 5/20/2014, 2:02 am

Me too. Almost all the beds I'm planting in were made many years ago, but until the soil starts leaking out, they're still good enough for me. Of course, I don't care what they look like, so that factors into things. If they were super pretty in the first place, or in a front yard, I might feel differently.

What kind of wood did you use, and how thick?
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Re: New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  donnainzone5 on 5/20/2014, 11:47 am

The wood used to construct the boxes was supposed to be Douglas Fir, although I suspect that my handyman actually purchased pine.  It's 1" thick.

My main concern is whether the rot/mold/whatever could infect the Mel's Mix and/or plants.
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Re: New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  Turan on 5/20/2014, 2:32 pm

The fir rots about the same as the pine.  For longer lasting beds you need to use cedar or redwood.  Aside from that, the rot is the same as that in your compost already.  In fact your MM is a great source of fungi etc to rot your wood.  It won't hurt your plants.

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Re: New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  Marc Iverson on 5/20/2014, 2:49 pm

People use wood all the time as mulch, which never stops rotting till it's totally gone, so I don't know why it would hurt. If either pine or Douglas fir were toxic, you wouldn't have been using it in the first place, and wood rot is always with us, sometimes even on purpose. Probably everybody's wood is always in some stage of rotting, but I haven't heard of it doing anybody harm.

Even nitrogen tied up by the rotting shouldn't be that big a deal.
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Re: New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  donnainzone5 on 5/20/2014, 3:38 pm

Thanks, Marc and Turan!
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Re: New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  CapeCoddess on 5/21/2014, 8:54 pm

Hmmm...this makes me wonder, what if we use 12 inch high wood for our boxes, fill it only 6 inches with MM, then once the bottom half has rotted, flip the box over and fill it 6 inches. would that work?

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Re: New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  Kelejan on 5/22/2014, 2:56 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:Hmmm...this makes me wonder, what if we use 12 inch high wood for our boxes,  fill it only 6 inches with MM, then once the bottom half has rotted, flip the box over and fill it  6 inches.  would that work?

CC

It wouldn't look pretty. Also if you use twine anchored to the top of the box it would be hard to attach.

I use my rotting boxes as containers for composting. Makes quite  a good 4 x 4 x 4, my boxes are 8 inches deep.
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Re: New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  donnainzone5 on 5/22/2014, 3:33 pm

Hmmm....

Perhaps I should stick with my original plan to make these beds out of cinder block and use the wooden boxes for composting purposes.
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Re: New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  Marc Iverson on 5/22/2014, 5:07 pm

My neighbor swears by his cinder block planters, and while they aren't as postcard-pretty as some wooden boxes are, they're wonderfully sturdy. He grows the best and most tomatoes in the neighborhood, and he thinks one reason that is so is that the cinder blocks moderate the temperature inside his beds. They retain heat and radiate it out at night, which helps his plants deal with nights that can drop down into the 50's even in the middle of record-hot summers. They also retain cold from the night before, which helps moderate our intense summer heat. We can have prolonged periods in which it is too cold at night for the tomatoes to set fruit at night and too hot for them to set fruit during the day. He never has that problem even though there is no shade anywhere near his garden, giving him the whole day's sun.

And, of course, they'll never rot.
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Re: New Plantings in Rotting Wooden Boxes?

Post  Yardslave on 5/23/2014, 4:50 pm

I'd like to point out that Douglas Fir is a species of pine, and is not much different from the white pine, spruce, Ponderosa, Southern yellow pine,and Monterey pine wood available commercially, either as boards or plywood- Their densities and grains will vary, but all are prone to rotting with a lifespan for an untreated pine board is typically 5 years. Building a box with 2" versus the typical 5/8" thick boards can increase the box's life a little. Latex paint or Linseed oil finishing pine wood isn't toxic and can increase the life of the wood by repelling moisture. The resins in ceder and redwood are both water, and soil-borne rot resistant making those two the materials of choice. Expensive composite decking materials don't rot, and last longer than any wood, but are too pliable to hold back the weight of more than 5" of wet soil (it bows a lot) and requires special screws, as nails don't work on it. As I see it, if you don't want to rebuild, just wall up the perimeter of the bed with cinder blocks and wait for the wood to give out. That way you won't have to even bother removing the soil and boards, they are composting away in the soil.
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