question for the gardeners


TPF Noob!
Oct 10, 2004
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Raising my flower and veggie beds this spring...using douglas fir (because cedar is too expensive (small yard, big garden))...but would like to coat the wood with a water sealant to preserve it a little longer. Any chance the sealant will creep into my carrots and kill me? I would think the sealant would soak into the wood and stay there, but I don't really want any 3 armed-kids either.

Any help/suggestions are welcomed.

peruse what's available at your local home and garden shop then ask their expert for the MSDS (material safety data sheet) reports for environmental impacts. this info is readily available from the manufacturer. these days most wood preservatives are safe...better check it out though.
Anything you put on the wood will get into the soil in time and into what you are eating. I find fir will last 8-10 years or longer untreated and I live in a very wet area. Pure tung oil will seal wood and has no added chemicals in it and is pretty safe but I still wouldn't sprinkle my food with it. I would talk to an organic farmer and see what they say.

My vote is to leave it untreated.
I would personally vote for not getting any kind of sealant/paint product near my food. I grow stuff in wooden half-barrels, and they're burnt to seal them... maybe you could burn the inside edges a bit to seal them?

Thanks for your comments...I was looking online last night and came across some green (sans any bad chemicals and biodegradable) sealants so I'll try to give those a shot.

If you've had any success with these, please chime in.
If it were my house I wouldn't want to use anything, especially growing vegetables. If you are going to be buying soil to fill the raised beds you probably should watch where that comes from. If you do use one of the sealers please post the results. Good Luck.
I used green oak for my raised beds, and the sawmill I bought it from only sells oak and Douglas Fir. Their main business is oak framed buildings, and Douglas Fir is used for some architectural work because it is about the densest softwood you can get. In fact it is denser than some broad leafed trees - I can't remember the numbers but the best Douglas Fir is nearly up there with some of the less dense species of oak.

So, if I were you I wouldn't worry about preservatives. It's not worth the risk, and you're likely to get a good number of years out of it untreated.

green (sans any bad chemicals and biodegradable) sealants

If the guy selling you this stuff is not willing to drink it out of the bottle or can and then have his kids do it, don't use it. Just because it's green, it does not mean you should be eating it.

Sorry but when it comes to my food I'm picky.

I still vote for untreated.

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