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Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

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Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  jollo on 3/17/2011, 12:26 am

Hi everyone. I've a question to put out to fellow SFGers. Perhaps someone will have an answer, or a suggestion for an alternative. I waded through some of the forums here and haven't seen any info about this particular subject.

My question is this: In my large 4' x 8' raised boxes. about 2 foot high
(up from 18 inches), is it feasible, practical, and/or safe to pour
packing peanuts in the bottom of the bed before refilling them with the
freshened mix?

We're starting our garden for this year. This will be our third year at SFG in raised boxes. This year we have to move the boxes to a new location, and will raise them to a more comfortable 'grandma height'.

I've read suggestions (not at SFG) concerning the use of styrofoam packing peanuts in large planters to reduce the amount of soil or potting mix used to fill the planter. So if one has a two foot high patio planter, one would fill the bottom third or so with packing peanuts, then fill the remainder with the potting mix or soil to plant in. This also keeps the larger planters from being so heavy.

Well, I have a large supply of packing peanuts. Since we are moving my raised boxes and will have to refill them, now would be a good time to add the filler at the bottom. But I thought it wise to ask the wide knowledge base in this forum for input before I do so.

Thanks for any input. I'd like to reduce the amount of mix necessary in each of my deep boxes so I can afford to add a few more!

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  boffer on 3/17/2011, 1:26 am

I swear, if my wife ever brings home another packing peanut...

They work great as filler. Especially as filler in large pots. But once you decide to re-pot, re-arrange, or re-decorate, those dang things start showing up everywhere! In the yard, in the neighbors' yard, etc., etc....

I would pay good money to fill deep SFG boxes or large planters with anything but packing peanuts. Keep that crap away from my five acres!!!!!!

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  HPartin on 3/17/2011, 8:03 am

I've heard somewhere about the idea of putting empty plastic bottles in deep pots to save on potting soil and making the pots lighter. You could probably do that for your raised beds too. I imagine they could a easier to work if you had to empty/change out your mix and still recycle the bottles later.

Heidi

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 3/17/2011, 8:41 am

Hi,
I have tried the packing peanuts in potted plants. It works fine until you need to change the soil. I would have to agree with Boffer on that route, that it makes quite a mess for a long time. You also need to watch being top heavy. If that is the route you choose be sure to use a very good weed block fabric, so your mix doesn't settle into your filler. How about fill dirt, pine cones or a table top bottom?

Patty in Yorktown

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/17/2011, 8:47 am

I HATE packing peanuts! I am not a person who likes the idea of legislation to solve simple problems, but when it comes to these little nasties, they should be outlawed!!!

Now that I've said my peace maybe I can speak with reason (cause ya gotta do something with them)....
I like the pop bottle idea. But if you have more peanuts than soda bottles, please cover the peanuts you place in the bottom of the box with some kind of cloth such as hardware cloth or landscape fiber. I've never read about the peanuts being toxic for food use but when birds crunch and swallow them it blocks their gut (or whatever it is that birds have) and can kill them....slowly and painfully. If they get into the water (and they always do) fish and waterfowl eat them and are killed in the same way.

Personally I would just use less MM. You can also use sand, gravel, those marbles that are used for hydroponic gardens, shredded or pelted paper (watch your ph as it breaks down through the years) or just about ANYTHING else.

Deborah....thinking it would be great if we could do anything with those stupid things. (is my prejudice showing?)

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  PVPind on 3/17/2011, 9:08 am

In all my planters I use Perlite to fill the unused cavity. Still get good drainage and the lightweight characteristics make them easy to move around.

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  walshevak on 3/17/2011, 9:10 am

Don't have packing peanuts available, but I've often used big chucks of styrofoam that came packed around tvs, microwaves, dvd players. I just broke it into a chuck small enough to go into my bigger flower pots. Saved a lot on weight and soil mix.
When the time came to dump the pots for freshened soil the big chucks were easy to deal with


Kay

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  nancy on 3/17/2011, 9:15 am

+1 with Deb's suggestion to cover the peanuts with something before adding the soil. I have used soda cans (not crushed) in my larger patio containers to fill the bottom. So far it's has worked like a charm!

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  jollo on 3/17/2011, 11:48 am

Thanks for the ideas, folks! Yes, the packing peanuts are a pain in the patootie, but readily available. The hardware cloth or weed fabric cover is a great idea if we use the peanuts.

The 2 liter bottle idea is also good. A layer or two of those could also serve as a gopher deterrent if the pests get past the hardware cloth on the bottom? We just don't have them to work with.

Please keep the ideas coming. I have until Sunday to come up with a workable plan!

We did use a thick layer of cardboard boxes in the largest box when we first put them in, but the soil level shrank dramatically as they rotted in the bottom of the 18 inch bed. Also, I realized later, we may have been feeding the termites we have in the soil here with all that delicious cardboard.

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Milk jugs as filler

Post  SueB on 3/17/2011, 6:48 pm

I am struggling with filling bottom of deeper boxes. I am thinking about the gallon plastic jugs milk comes in. Costco uses square shapes that should pack the space nicely. Comments?

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  HPartin on 3/17/2011, 9:20 pm

Probably the only thing you need to consider if putting in pots, whether bottles, peanuts, etc is that if your plants are tall they may become top heavy and blow over.

Heidi

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/17/2011, 9:29 pm

SueB

How very nice to "meet" you. I am currently on the Oregon Coast, but I lived in Eugene for about 7 years.

You can fill the bottoms of the boxes with almost anything as long as it allows for drainage, doesn't contain weeds, and won't compact or leach nasty things into the Mel's Mix.

Sounds like the boxes are awfully deep if you are considering Costco Milk Jugs. Is there a possibility they would collapse under the weight of the Mel's Mix? Former posters mentioned litre soda bottles
Others have mentioned packing peanuts as long as you keep a barrier between the peanuts and Mel's Mix.

Weed cloth might be a good idea with any filler, as you don't want your marvelous soil sifting down into the bottom of your bed.

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  dstubbs on 3/18/2011, 9:55 am

Packing peanuts are made of polystyrene. I'm not sure I'd want that in close proximity to my vegetables. You may want to check into the possible health risks. Your idea could probably work ok for non-edible plants, though.

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  Old Hippie on 3/18/2011, 10:39 am

I have used the packing peanuts for years because they are FREE........and I happened to have a whole lot of them. They worked really well, except for the previously mentioned problem of them getting mixed into the soil as it sinks down and getting where you don't want them. I only used them in flower containers.....not with edibles.

In larger containers, what I have used that works very well is soda cans.....I have a couple of very tall containers that I used them in. Milk jugs would work too, but I would crush them first. I have also used a couple of layers of the containers that seedlings come in when you buy them. they are a soft plastic type material. I just crush them first. It works pretty well but I have never put the fabric over them to keep the soil from washing down into the spaces. What an awesome idea. I will certainly use that idea this year. I hate to waste good mix where it is not really needed plus some of the pots just get too heavy when the soil is wet, even with MM.

Top-heavy was not a problem as the various clay pots that I use are very heavy to begin with. Anything I can do to keep them from being any heavier is a good thing. I always decide I need to move them someplace else after they are full and planted.

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  Miss M on 3/19/2011, 1:43 am

Perhaps the mess of the peanuts should you ever pull up the garden could be minimized by packing them in something... some sort of mesh... like maybe the 50-lb mesh onion bags. You might be able to get those from restaurants or something. Cabbage comes similarly packed (I remember that from my Kentucky Fried Chicken days). I know you can get them from some places, because I read someone's posts on a rabbit site I frequent, saying she gets them from a restaurant, and stuffs garden clippings and weeds in them, and hangs them up to dry. That way she has the clippings and weeds for food for her rabbits in winter. But I digress.

Whatever way you go, it would definitely be good to lay down the cloth on top of your filler, to keep your soil from sinking down into it and getting lost. Smile

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  Lindacol on 3/19/2011, 11:32 am

@Miss M wrote:Perhaps the mess of the peanuts should you ever pull up the garden could be minimized by packing them in something... some sort of mesh... like maybe the 50-lb mesh onion bags. You might be able to get those from restaurants or something. Cabbage comes similarly packed (I remember that from my Kentucky Fried Chicken days). I know you can get them from some places, because I read someone's posts on a rabbit site I frequent, saying she gets them from a restaurant, and stuffs garden clippings and weeds in them, and hangs them up to dry. That way she has the clippings and weeds for food for her rabbits in winter. But I digress.

Whatever way you go, it would definitely be good to lay down the cloth on top of your filler, to keep your soil from sinking down into it and getting lost. Smile

I would use feed sacks. The plastic woven ones I saw someone is using to grow potatoes in or the ones I get alfalfa pellets in. These are called paperwoven - basically a brown paper bag bonded to the woven plastic inside. These are practically indestructable yet not water tight. I used them in the bottom of my raised beds instead of weed cloth.

Fill with the peanuts, sew or staple shut and you have a big pillow.

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  Megan on 3/19/2011, 12:18 pm

I would not use plastic bottles. I used them as cloches last year, which was fine... but I left them out, and they actually partially degraded over the winter. Which is GREAT, environment-wise, but not so great if you are counting on them as filler.

I like Lindacol's idea of entrapping the peanuts in a sack, but the peanuts still scare me.

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Update: Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  jollo on 3/20/2011, 1:46 am

Thanks for all of the feed back, folks. The rain here has put a damper on our outdoor plans for the weekend...well, the rain and the nine grandkids we've had running about the place since noon!

But we found two solutions for filler for the raised boxes we are moving, one of them mentioned in this 'thread'.

The first solution was stumbled on yesterday when we lifted the floor of the shed we had to move last week. The gophers had packed dirt tight between the joists, 4 inches deep. Good news: I figure I have an unexpected cubic yard of good sandy soil to add to the bottom of my raised beds before I replace the growing mix. Bad news: I have a gopher den directly under the new garden spot. As a result, we figured it was best to replace the weathered hardware cloth under the boxes with new. Which led to the trip to Lowe's and the second solution we found.

As we entered Lowe's, we came across a cartload of styrofoam packing blocks
abut 8x16x3 inches. They were ours for the asking! Perfect size for the bottom of my narrow boxes. Better yet, the associate who was unpacking merchandise
said he would have much more for us we may pick up at 2 PM tomorrow
afternoon! As my grandkids say, "Score!". Thanks to 'walshevak' for that idea.

So we'll start with what we have and see what else comes our way if we need more filler. The mention by 'Lindacol' of woven feed bags made me think of the dog food sacks we get. They might make a good weed barrier as well!

Tomorrow is the first day of spring. Better yet, today was the last day of winter. Happy gardening everyone!

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/20/2011, 5:31 am

If you choose to use the styrofoam packing blocks, be sure you either break them into pieces or drill holes thru them to allow for drainage.

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  walshevak on 3/20/2011, 7:38 am

@Furbalsmom wrote:If you choose to use the styrofoam packing blocks, be sure you either break them into pieces or drill holes thru them to allow for drainage.

+1 and landscape fabric between the soil and the styrofoam in the veggie gardens.
Kay

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  lightheart on 3/21/2011, 12:20 am

Saw the original poster found another solution besides packing peanuts but wanted to add...

some packing peanuts, the ones made with starch, will dissolve in water, so if you choose to use... test a batch in a cup or bucket first.

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Re: Packing peanuts as filler in bottoms of deep raised beds?

Post  Glendale-gardener on 3/21/2011, 12:38 am

If you want to avoid being too top heavy, maybe you could collect milk jugs, then fill them with something, like sand or "bad" dirt and put their lids back on. That would still add to the weight though, of course.

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