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suitable for SFG?

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suitable for SFG?

Post  capatl on 8/10/2011, 3:39 am

Hey folks!

I have been steadily preparing my classroom for the new school year. This year I was lucky enough to get a new shelf. It hit me that the old shelf may work as a slightly modified SFG. I have been scouring craigslist for free stuff, but don't have a handy supply of tools.

The depth (laying down) is 11 inches, and the widths of the sections vary, but if I am using Mel's Mix, could I tweak the recommended numbers per 'square'? The backing is peg board, I think it's called? I am aware that will deteriorate, but if I am not using it as a table top it shouldn't matter, right? It also has a wood stain finish, but has been there for years. Should I sand it before planting?

I am trying to be resourceful and save money, and love repurposing what would otherwise be thrown away.

Any thoughts, suggestions?



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Re: suitable for SFG?

Post  Goosegirl on 8/10/2011, 8:13 am

Looks perfect to me - and with built-in drainage holes!


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Re: suitable for SFG?

Post  boffer on 8/10/2011, 8:26 am

I would use them.

I would put L brackets on the four exterior corners for security.

Personally, I wouldn't worry about the finish.

Now you have to decide whether to leave the depth at 11 inches for carrots and potatoes, or put in some cheap filler on the bottom so you don't need to use so much MM.

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Re: suitable for SFG?

Post  westie42 on 8/10/2011, 10:05 am

The picture seems to say the boards are plywood. Stand that up on end outside in much rain and the layers will separate. Unless it is not plywood or someone else knows how to prevent moisture from causing glue separation in the plywood layers they would not likely last over a year. I would keep the plywood for another use such as shelving or storage just don’t use them directly in the outdoors environment. I doubt they went to the expense of marine plywood and it is not treated plywood either. Sorry to bring bad news but in most localities they would not work out very well unless a short term solution then it throw away is the objective.


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Re: suitable for SFG?

Post  Unmutual on 8/10/2011, 2:44 pm

It definitely does look like plywood(3/4 inch?). If it were to otherwise be thrown out, it could be used, but I wouldn't expect it to last long unless the edges are well sealed(and then it depends on the sealer/varnish used. It's usually oil based, but any nick or cut will let water into that end grain and loosen the glue holding the thin sheets together). I have, however, seen plain old plywood last a long time in the elements(5 years or so) and that was without being sealed or varnished...I've also seen plywood separate in under a year.

Even with the dado construction, you might want to put some decking screws to reinforce the shelves, because that glue will come apart(even if it's been tacked in with nails, those nails will rust quick). As Boffer said, reinforce the outside angles too. As far as VOC's from the finish, it looks like it has some age on it, so I probably wouldn't be worried about leaching much if I were to use it.

You could also cut the cabinet down in size(though with the shelving it will be fun to say the least) using a circular saw and jigsaw. That or just fill in the extra 5 inches with sand(or bury it 5 inches in the ground and don't forget to use weed cloth on top of the back fill).

Worse case scenario is that the cabinet will start to separate and you have to get some wood to make another box. Maybe if you just put the empty cabinet on its back on your lawn for a month or so, you could get some idea on how well it will weather.


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Re: suitable for SFG?

Post  capatl on 8/10/2011, 11:41 pm

Thanks for all of your responses!

If I want to seal the shelf so that it can handle the weather a bit longer, what do you recommend? Should I sand it down before applying a better sealant? I was thinking about adding sand to a few sections and leaving others deep, for more planting options. However here are some slight gaps between edges/dividers. Can I fill in those gaps with caulk, glue, or that foam insulating stuff or are they too toxic?

I am also tossing around the idea of raising it with a few cinder blocks (due to my doggies). Is it worth the added work? Assuming I would have to compensate for the peg board base likely rotting the quickest?

Thanks so much for the input! Y'all rock! rock on


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Re: suitable for SFG?

Post  Unmutual on 8/11/2011, 1:41 am

As far as resealing, I'm not sure to be quite honest. I know thompson's water seal is good for outdoor use, but I have absolutely no idea about the toxicity of sealing wood when it comes to vegetable gardening outside of using linseed oil(and not boiled linseed oil). You'd probably have to look up some zero VOC oils, but again, the only one that I'm 95% sure that is safe would be linseed oil. You'll have to keep applying it especially to end grain(that's what I used on my cricket bat back when I was a kid, and it needed to be re-oiled once/twice a year). The glue binding the layers of the plywood might resist linseed oil too, therefore allowing water to separate it regardless. This is just a best guess, since I have never done this, and I've never read anyone trying plywood for the sides of a veggie box either. I can only find boiled linseed oil locally.

Here is a product that is pure linseed oil and not boiled(which has additives/chemicals).


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Re: suitable for SFG?

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