The Q&A Archives: Raised beds

Question: Hi, you all advised someone to use pressure treated wood for a raised bed, but you did NOT warn them that this should not be used for a vegetable bed. It's fine for flowers, but there are chemicals in pressure treated wood that could be toxic and could leach into the food. Please fix this. Cedar or redwood works fine.

Answer: Thanks for sharing your opinion. There are two sides to the story concerning the safety of pressure treated wood in gardens. One says such products are safe, and cites studies showing little or no leaching of arsenate for years. The other side has it's own studies and says heavy metals and toxins do leach at dangerous levels. So, I err on the cautious side and recommend gardeners not use pressure-treated wood, especially for food plants. Try cedar, redwood, hemlock, plastic wood or cement blocks as alternatives. If you already have the wood and want to use it, line the inside of the planter with plastic to reduce the risk of the chemicals leaching into the soil, then fill with the topsoil of your choice. I'd go a step further and not plant root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes or radishes close to the edges of the beds. Above-ground veggies should be just fine.

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