Friday, May 31, 2013

Is it safe to grow vegetables in treated pine containers?

Rustic D Handle Basket with herbs
Hi Peter,
I just had a customer come in very concerned, and to be honest furious that the planter boxes that we get from you are made from treated pine, and that they are poisoning her with arsenic. I was wondering if you could shed any light on this. ...they are made from treated pine and we do tell people this, but is this customer overreacting, what treatment has been used on them? How old  is the timber, what is the likelihood, that the boxes would leech into the soil, and potentially poison someone? 

Definitely worth a considered response, so I have followed up with our manufacturer, Keith.  All the timber used in our Rustic Planters is recycled fencing material, some fences are made from hardwood, others from treated pine.  I have noticed treated pine is being used more commonly than hard wood these days.
Generally the material is very old, that's why the fence was pulled down in the first place. That's not always the case however, it's not unheard of that fences will be pulled back down following a dispute of boundaries or when the fence is not to the property owner's specifications. Keith will use better quality treated pine in the base of planters in an effort to improve their longevity.

Don Burke offers this information on the subject of treated pine and vegetable gardens. In summary treated pine is safe for gardening.

Of course "safe" is never safe enough in some instances so we emphasize that the rustic planters are purely ornamental. When soil or potting mix is held in the container with direct contact to the timber the timber will quickly warp and crack so they are best lined with plastic or used for plunge planting potted plants.

Having said all that, yes we pot plenty of those D Handle baskets but they are very ornamental.

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