I am actually quite embarrassed at how our first two garden raised beds were made out of chemical ridden, OIL leaking railroad ties. They were great for the budget at the time but overall absolutely terrible for our health and our environment. Since then, we’ve learned a thing or two.
When we started this garden journey, (on a whim I might add) we knew we wanted to go the raised bed route. We also knew that I was still in graduate school, newly married, and living on a single income. At the time, we didn’t have a lot of excess materials laying around so we made the executive decision to go to our local hardware store and purchase 6 used railroad ties for relatively cheap.
We didn’t have any issues with oil seepage that year and I gave no thought to the processing done to that material either.
Then comes garden year 2. Also known as 2020. Enough said.
We divided our rectangle shape garden bed to make things more manageable while adding 3 beds with a new batch of railroad ties. I had so many problems with oil seeping from the wood after sitting in the sun all day that I became quite disturbed at our choices.
However, you live and you learn. Gardening is no exception.
As the year went on, we began to bite bullet after bullet when it came to expanding our farm. We knew in future years that we wanted an expansive garden with the goal of putting up around 80% of our own food for winter and we wanted to add a few small animals, such as chickens. We added a second “canning garden”, we added a green house, we added an orchard, and we added chickens (3 times. Turns out we love chickens).
I knew that in our fancy new garden I did NOT want railroad ties or anything chemically treated for that matter. As I was doing research on what the best organic material was if we were to use raised beds, I came across cedar.
Well, as luck would have it we had just cleared several cedars from the new orchard area for two reasons. 1: space. 2: apple trees hate cedar trees anywhere around them. It causes cedar rust and prohibits fruiting.
After contacting a family friend, we were able to turn the cedars which we had intended to burn into beautiful, TRUE 2′ x 4′, 2′ x 6′, and random 1’x10′ boards to build and update our garden beds.
When I say beautiful, I mean b e a u t i f u l.
These cedar boards are so special because they came from our land and they are completely untouched by chemicals. So special that our family decided to buy our own saw mill.
ENDLESS GARDEN BOARDS FOR DAYS, BABY.
No, but really…how many raised beds is too many raised beds?
I will keep y’all posted on the durability of this material but from what I hear, we will be enjoying these beds for years and years.