Health Concerns About Treated Wood for Garden Boxes

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Pressure treated wood, when used in raised vegetable gardens, can be a cause for concern. Learn about the toxic substances contained in treated wood with help from a gardener in this free video on raised garden beds.

Part of the Video Series: Winter Planning for Spring Gardens
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Video Transcript

Hello, I'm Steve Skinner with Kathryn's Garden. Today, I'm going to talk about the safety concerns of pressure treated wood for the use in raised beds, especially vegetable gardens. Pressure treated wood contains a substance that prevents rotting called chromated copper arsenate, or arsenic. CCA can be very toxic and should be used with care, but because it makes a great raised bed edge, because it's so resistant to rotting and wood digesting insects such as termites, this wood is a very popular edge for raised gardens. Recently, many lumber companies began making a new pressure treated wood without CCA. But there is still a lot of the arsenic treated wood on the market. But it's easy to tell the older CCA wood by its olive green color. So if you do buy it, there are a few easy steps you should take to ensure that no arsenic leaches into the vegetable garden. When you buy this wood, you should either pressure wash it or allow it to weather for three or four months during the rainy season before you use it. Also, you can line your vegetable bed with plastic to keep the CCA from leaching into the garden soil. Make sure that when you put the bed together that you pre-drill all of your holes as well. This prevents the inner juices from leaching out. Pressure treated wood makes a great garden edge if you use one of these few safety precautions. And it will last safely for many years. This has been Steve Skinner with Kathryn's Garden. Talking about the safety of pressure treated wood.

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