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Drumstick

Raised Garden Box

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Hi Folks! 

 Thanks for all the awesome advice you've helped me with in the past. I've learned a lot from you guys:)

I'm making a raised garden box. It's made from Douglas fir. Not the best choice, I know. I'm about to assemble it and been thinking on what to do to the outside of it. I'm leaving the inside bare wood. I'm growing fruits and berries in it so I don't want chemicals in the growing bed.

I was planning on painting the outside to give it some protection but wasn't sure if I did just the outside of it would make the wood warp and crack faster. The walls are made from 2x12 and the legs are 4x4. It's been sitting in my garage for about a year. I'd be using exterior paint with exterior primer that I have left from painting the garage wall.

What do you guys think? 

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I've got a feeling the wood will constantly be leeching moisture from your soil and plants. I don't know what the fix is, not using chemicals though. Good luck

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It's going to be outside, so I'd paint the whole thing, inside and out.  That'll give you some protection from wood movement, but it will never stop it. And with paint, it will last a little longer.

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I don't understand raised beds, more watering, you have wood that is going to last a couple years at best and more maintenance. What's wrong with a regular garden especially if you want to avoid "chemicals". A lot of the time even regular wood will contain trace amounts of "chemicals".

You really should use the word contaminant because technically water is a chemical. There are a lot of other helpful chemicals that plants and animals rely on to survive to remove them would be more deadly than ingesting contaminants. Or possibly more accurate pollutants.

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If your gonna paint do both sides or don't paint at all. Best thing would be old growth redwood. I've got a redwood strawberry tower that's over 20 years old and has been full of wet potting soil the entire time. My only mistake was using coated exterior screws, those are getting replaced with stainless.

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I would line the inside with some of that dimpled plastic used to line the exterior of concrete foundation walls. That will keep the damp soil away from the wood & allow air to circulate. Painting the outside will create a maintenance nightmare. If you want to coat it with something, use a semitransparent oil based fence stain. When it starts to look bad you just recoat with no need to strip of loose & peeling paint.

I planted a small strawberry patch in my garden a few years ago & they have now taken over the entire garden, except for the border plants. I have to hack them back 3 or 4 times every summer to keep them from taking over the whole yard. Raised beds would take care of that and make it much easier to pick the berries. 

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Thanks for all the advice. I know it'll only last a few years. Redwood and cedar were not in the budget. This is some what a test to see if I'll actually keep the garden up. 

   The reason for doing the raised be is my ground soil is full of pesticides for termites and ants. And I won't need to get down on the ground to tend to it. If it was for just flowers I would plant them on the ground. When I spoke to the people at the nursery the told me to skip a liner inside. They did also suggest redwood or cedar.  

  The water seeping in to the wood and not being able to seep out and warp or crack the wood was my worry. I wouldn't mind repainting it yearly to keep it looking nice. I just didn't want to wear out the wood quicker than normal. 

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I think if you're using 2x12s with no liner you'll have big problems with the boards curling badly. Moisture on the inside & dry on the outside will make the wood move, a lot. Better to use 2x4s. Expect no more than a couple of years out of this.

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Ahh this makes more sense. When ever someone says raise beds i always think they just have boxes sitting on the ground. If your going to put bottoms on them and have it at table height that sounds a heck of a lot more useful. I can get on board with that.

The thing I didn't understand was sitting on the ground isn't goign to spare you from the pesticides in the ground. If anything the 10" of material added above grade  is going to make things worse. Most pesticides are larger particles and get filtered out by soil It takes relatively little soil to filter these particles out and they stay towards the top. Having the  root zone 10"up will basically put the plants roots in the most contaminated part of the soil making a poor situation worse. Roots grow down so to prevent them from entering with the undesirable soil you'd need a barrier of plastic or something impermeable. doing that sounds like a recipe for drowned plants.

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Unfortunately I already have the 2x12's. I bought the materials for this like 2 years ago. I've learned a lot since then:rolleyes: I do have the option of cutting them down to 2x6, that would be a bit of a pain, I only have a craftsman portable table saw that could accommodate that cut. I don't do well freehanding straight clean lines:P

If I get 2.5- 3 years I'll be happy with it. Then I'll redo it in a more suitable wood.

So the thinking is, if I paint it I should line/paint  the inside too. If I don't line/paint the in side I shouldn't paint the outside?

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4 hours ago, Drumstick said:

Unfortunately I already have the 2x12's

Just rip them in half then. If you want, you could use a straight edge to keep the cuts straight. Lining the inside would let the paint hang on longer for sure.

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Make the first rip only halfway through the boards. That should make the rest of the cut much easier.

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Your table saw has a fence I assume, use it the way wdwerker said, cut half way through, flip and do it again.

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My entire garden ( 40’ x 12’ ), consisting of 7 ea. 4’ x 12’ wide beds with 24” walkways in between, are raised. Houston soil wasn’t meant to raise tomatoes. I used land scape timbers, 3 high around the perimeter and 1 x 6 treated to divide the beds from the walkways. 

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Raised beds help when your garden is where huge lilac bushes used to be........

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5 hours ago, wdwerker said:

Make the first rip only halfway through the boards. That should make the rest of the cut much easier.

 

5 hours ago, RichardA said:

Your table saw has a fence I assume, use it the way wdwerker said, cut half way through, flip and do it again.

Sorry, I got the case of the dumb. Do you mean cut one side is the board half way then turn it over. Or do you mean cut all the way thru the board but only halfway down the length? 

I use the fence all the time on my table saw. I was finally able to cut a straight line when I got it:P it's my hand held circular I have the straight line issues with. 

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I tried to upload so photos of what I have so far but I need to resize them. I'll get some up soon.

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2 hours ago, Drumstick said:

 

Sorry, I got the case of the dumb. Do you mean cut one side is the board half way then turn it over. Or do you mean cut all the way thru the board but only halfway down the length? 

I use the fence all the time on my table saw. I was finally able to cut a straight line when I got it:P it's my hand held circular I have the straight line issues with. 

Lay the board flat on the table saw raise the blade to the height of 7/8ths make sure that the blade is in the center of the board.  It's a 2x12 so the center should be 5 3/4" run the board all the way through the board, the full length.  You'll need something to support it on its way past the table edge.  Once you've cut a 7/8ths grove in the board, flip it end for end so the same side is registered on the fence. Then run the board through again. Be careful the piece between the blade and the fence can kick back and nail you in the tender area and you'll walk with a limp for days. Stand to the side as you feed the board through. half of the board should fall away when you reach the end and the other half will still be between the fence and blade. This time is the most critical. It's where you can make the board kick back.  Again be careful.  Use a stick with a notch in it to push the board the last few inches past the blade. Never put your hand close to the blade on the board.  You now should have 2 boards about 5 3/4" wide.

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You must add a liner to the box. I'm sure you will amend the soil and that means adding nitrogen. Besides growing plants, the purpose of nitrogen is to decompose organic matter. So without a liner the nitrogen is heading for the d fir and will rot it from the inside out. I know. I have been there. But not just any liner. I was going to use pond liner. Then I call the manuf. They said no. Toxic. You need a food grade liner. Get it as thick as you can. A cheap upgrade for added years. Western cedar or cypress is best application. Red wood is very good but expensive. No paint. 

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So toxic pond liner means don't eat the Koi ? Redwood is cheap if you look at the big picture, might cost 4x more but it lasts 20 x longer. 

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But all  wood is no match for a bed with a lot of nitrogen. Do you think redwood would last longer than Western R cedar or cypress?  Assuming the box has a liner. Correct, do not eat the koi if the pond has a liner that is not food grade. However the raccoons will eat the koi. They don't care...

Western r cedar aint cheap but a little less than redwood. Redwood is stronger than cedar but cedar is strong enough. The biggest question for me is which holds up best in weather. I know they both do well in the weather but I do not know which is more lasting...Around here the lumber yards mostly offer cedar...I like working with redwood. Less knots...

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