Nursery owner

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner.

Laurie Garretson

Laurie Garretson

Above-ground planters have become very popular the past few years, especially with older gardeners. Having raised gardens makes it much easier to reach the plants. Raised beds actually make gardening much easier for all ages.

I’d suggest doing some research before building any type of raised gardens, especially if planting edible plants. There are some materials you just might not want to use — railroad ties for example.

Many years ago, some gardeners felt they were being very good environmentalists by recycling old railroad ties for flower bed edging and garden edging. There was often a large supply available and it seemed like a good way to use all that old wood — a good way to recycle. People long ago had no idea that railroad ties could be such a health hazard.

Railroad ties contain creosote and would never be a good thing to use in any garden.

Creosote is a toxic substance that is bad for your health, your children, your pets and your soil. Exposure to creosote can cause mental confusion, respiratory problems, kidney or liver problems, risk of cancers, eye problems, convulsions and even death.

When making a raised garden, that will last for many seasons, you’ll need to find materials that will be strong, durable and capable of holding your soil and plants. You will need something that’s going to last.

For safer alternatives for any of your outdoor projects consider using rocks, concrete blocks, fence boards, metal, bricks, wine barrels, straw bales, pallets or untreated woods.

It’s a good idea to always look on the wood for a sticker or inked stamp that shows how any of the untreated woods might have been treated and if it is safe enough for your project.

Until next time, let’s all try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds may become wildflowers.

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Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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