Question How many edible plants do you grow?

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Steve, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Hey @OskarDoLittle, what timber did you use in these raised garden beds and where did you get it from? I'm looking around at landscaping places and it all seems to be CCA treated and I'm wary about putting that stuff near food crops.

    Cheers
     
  2. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    That's disappointing! How can they not answer their phone? Whenever I email them I get a response pretty quickly so I hope they haven't deliberately gone "cold" on you because that's not a very good customer service ploy... Give'em a few more tries and see how you go Daleys might have had new staff on or something :dunno:

    The coconut plant looks healthy alright! Ahhh, the romance of picking your own coconuts from the backyard is irresistible - imagine all the Asian dishes with fresh coconut milk you could make just for a start.
     
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  3. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hey Steve,
    We also had a hard time finding untreated stuff, so we ended up using the CCA hardwood, and then lining it with waterproofing and then an impermeable plastic barrier in a bid to stop anything leeching. The CSIRO suggests this should be OK. It makes the beds more expensive, but they should also be a bit more durable. One of the American food regulators (can't remember which now) suggests that the CCA should be ok for most food crops, and for adult consumption...but I didn't really want to risk that!
    The beds are built on top of the old lawn, so there's no lining at the bottom to allow for drainage.
    Because of all the lining, I also felt comfortable staining the timber - we have a modern house and the garden beds had a hint of the "rustic" about them, which didn't really suit. So they're stained in Black Japan. This is meant to emulate the charring used in Japanese architecture (have a look for "burnt larch" - I do wonder whether that might be a better alternative, but it would be expensive to build them out of cedar or larch I suspect.)
     
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  4. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Cheers @OskarDoLittle, great info. I think I'd be comfortable with that method of lining the beds.

    Food for thought....
     
  5. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Today I ducked into Bunnings for a quick squiz on my way home from work and i noticed a couple of products used in retaining walls or raised garden beds that i hadnt seen before.

    First up was MicroPro Sienna Sleeper. These are a nice dark stained pine sleepers that are H4 treated with non-arsenic chemicals. It's supposed to be a lot safer and can be used in childrens playgrounds. It doesn't say anything about being used with eatable food crops so I'm not 100% sure on that. I had a quick look at the SDS for it too and there was nothing too bad from what I could see but again nothing about food crops. They might be better than arsenic treated timber but maybe not fully organic.
    http://www.timberlinkaustralia.com.au/products/timberlink-sienna/

    Secondly I noticed a product called Retain-It. It's a system where there are gal dipped steel channels that you cement into the ground and then you buy normal sleepers and they slide into the channel. It's very neat but it would be more expensive than using timber posts I'd think. But it would also be a quicker build time though as the sleepers just slide in and there's no screwing or bolting it all together. You can attach a top plank to finish it off which I think looks a lot better.
    http://whitesgroup.com.au/resources/brands/retain-it.html

    Just thought I'd share these couple of products as they were new to me.....
     
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  6. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Thanks for the extra research Steve, it got me doing a bit more of my own just to be certain I was comfortable eating anything grown in the beds!
    So there's quite a bit of conflicting research, but to my surprise, it seems that physically touching the treated timber and then putting your now-contaminated hands in your mouth (which I guess is what kids do) is more likely to be problematic - which is why it shouldn't be used for kid's play equipment. (Timber industry proponents are quick to point out this is hypothesised, not proven...but they do have a vested interest!)

    As for the veggie growing, in hindsight, I'd have preferred to use an alternative timber - though I'm still not sure what. So if the following sounds a little like I'm still trying to convince myself about the treated timber, you're right...I am!
    Most of the "pro CCA" folks argue that alternative treatments simply aren't durable. There's also a lot of chatter about the pH required to enable leeching of inorganic arsenic and whether any uptake by veggies would be the "harmless" organic arsenic - most of which is contained in the skin of root veg which you can peel off.
    Non root veg apparently takes up even less chemical content.
    I do feel reassured that we have included a very thick layer of impermeable waterproof membrane and THEN plastic, which in theory really should prevent the movement of chemicals into the soil.
    Ultimately though, d day will come when I actually harvest something and have to decide whether to eat it! Perhaps I'll test it out in the worm farm first!
     
  7. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Oh, BTW Narangba timbers claims to have untreated hardwood sleepers - 2.4 & 3.0meter lengths
     
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  8. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I'm yet to read or hear anything conclusive about vegetables taking up toxins from treated timber garden beds in fact I've heard more to the contrary that although toxins might kill plants due to root burn, nutrient blocking, or poisoning, a plant root system is unlikely to draw an unwanted chemical into the plant itself.

    However, dangerous organic matter might be a different story such as bacteria from contaminated water used on vegetables there's plenty of evidence that can make people sick.

    Steve, I have a raised bed made with those steel retain it posts where the sleepers slide in and it's not too bad of a system it's sturdy enough and allows for easy sleeper replacement just slide in and out.

    I didn't cement my posts in but reinforced several with a small star picket on the outside to prevent the walls from pushing outwards.

    There is a little more movement in the overall bed compared to fixing the sleepers to wooden posts with coach screws but it does a fair job...
     
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  9. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    ...I wonder how much longer the CCA treated timber would last compared to the same untreated hardwood timber if used in a raised garden bed? Anyone know?
     
  10. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I couldn't give a comparison between the lasting qualities of treated timber compared to the same hardwood but I can say the treated pine sleepers I have used are still going ok after a decade but they are rotting in places now and probably will need replacing over the next 5 years.

    I've dug up several hardwood posts (untreated) from the garden and reused them some would be 10 years + old.

    The good thing about a raised sleeper bed is when you do remove the wood for changing the soil is moulded into place and the job really isn't too big - it's just the cost I guess.

    If you're worried about wood rotting and requiring replacing why not go with concrete sleepers they cost only slightly more than hardwood but the termites have a much harder time eating them :p

    Actually, I wouldn't mind building one myself just for fun (I'm sure I could squeeze in another raised bed) - I quite like the fake wood :think:

    concrete sleeper raised garden bed.JPG
    http://www.bunnings.com.au/our-range/building-hardware/landscape/sleepers/concrete-sleepers
     
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  11. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    In my eyes the ideal is untreated hardwood sleeper for use around food crops and then CCA treated hardwood for retaining walls etc. But in saying that, if you get some sort of insect having a munch on your untreated hardwood it might not last that long afterall.

    I will say though that the fake timber look concrete is not that bad and a potential solution too.
     
  12. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Agreed - for peace of mind, I would probably prefer untreated hardwood...perhaps I'll test the first crops out on the other half instead of the worms - he's actually the one responsible for the timber purchase!! ;)
    We do live in a heavy termite area (the untreated timber down on the bank lasts about 2 years before becoming infested) so we'd have been replacing them often I suspect - by comparison, Tassie doesn't have termites, so untreated should be great down there.
    I found some info and a table on durability here which might be helpful:
    http://www.davidstimber.com.au/resource-centre/timber-durability/

    River red gum, Messmate (huh?) and Karri seem to be most durable for "in-ground" - I'm also punting up they're most expensive.
     
  13. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hmmm, I'm pleasantly surprised by these! Go on Mark, build one for us...you know you want to!!

    I had also thought about stone gabions, but the soil tends to wash out unless they're lined with something, and they take up a LOT more depth than timber, so you end up with smaller beds. Also not sure how easy they would be to edge around and what kind of footing they require. So it all seemed to be a bit hard in the end!
     
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  14. Joseph Isaac

    Joseph Isaac Active Member Premium Member

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    Hi guys!
    I miss this page so much. School is so busy that I rarely check the page and since its summer vacation I can now drop by anytime.

    Btw, this is a very good thread and to be honest I envy you guys for having so many edible plants!

    So far, I got:
    Celery
    Spring Onions
    Ginger
    Lemon grass (does it count?)
    Chilli peppers

    For fruit bearing trees:
    Jackfruit
    Chicozapote
    Sugarapple
    Soursop
    Papaya
    Cucumber tree

    Edible leaves/fruit from trees:
    Horseradish
    Indian mombin/ wild mango (locally we call them lubas/libas)

    since im asian you might consider this as an exotic food but its edible:
    Fern shoots

    So far i got so few and i hope i would be able to get some new ideas. ( i need to browse threads here). Good luck on the coconut milk!
     
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  15. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hey Joseph...of course lemon grass should count! (I count mine :) )
    Thinking about planting a soursop myself...I believe it tastes a little like lemonade? (Or maybe I have that confused with something else) how big do they grow? How hard are they to grow? Bearing in mind I'm in the subtropics!
     
  16. Joseph Isaac

    Joseph Isaac Active Member Premium Member

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    Hi Oskar!

    Sorry I cant answer your question scientifically as an agriculturist could but I would like to share some observations.

    Our soursop tree would develop fruit buds during colder months (december) that would be around 23°C

    When I planted mine, it was easy to grow just like a regular plant or tree. It took me around 4 years to grow. Since you are in subtropics and plants tend to have slow development during frost or winter. I think it would be a little longer to have fruits.

    Yes, if you picked them at the stage where they are almost ripe, you get the same taste as a sweet lemonade but if you pick them ripe and almost ready to fall, they are alot sweeter than usual.

    A good fruit can be as much as 1kg. Otherwise smaller fruits or average fruits would be around half a kilo.

    Also they got stronger flavor if you eat them as a fruit. adding shaved ice or making them as soursop shake ( i dont know how to describe it in proper words. it is just like milkshake but soursop instead of milk) they would be more enjoyable to eat/ drink.

    This is a file photo since its dark here. It is almost 1 foot long and 5 inches wide.
     

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  17. Joseph Isaac

    Joseph Isaac Active Member Premium Member

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    Hey steve!
    I saw your coconut and it looks great! But if its ok with you, I would like to suggest a few things. We have a coconut plantation. My family has been growing coconuts long before I was born (25). Dwarf coconuts are good. We got a few of them. We got some of them and they fruit at just around 5 feet tall. they tend to grow big even if in dwarf quality. Some trunk circumference would be as big as a full hug from a grown man. Here, it takes 3-5 years to bloom. I hope your coconut variety is alot different from ours so it blooms while still smaller and faster.

    A little tip: they love nitrogen rich soil. They bloom and fruit alot more if they got coffee plant ( they give off nitrogen) near/ below them than just plain grass.
     

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  18. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Thanks Joseph, appreciate the advice. This is my first one so I really have no idea what I'm doing with it so I'll gladly take your wisdom. Cheers
     
  19. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    What a great tip! I had no idea coffee plants give off nitrogen - do you think for this reason they could be a good plant to place around the orchard randomly?

    I have two small coffee plants growing and after reading your tip and seeing Steve's cute little coconut tree I just might have to plant a dwarf coconut next to each one myself :)
     
  20. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Looking at my coconut yesterday (I probably should give him a name :think:) and I noticed that even though I planted him straight in the pot he seems to be leaning over more and more.
    I guess it could be the soil settling a bit uneven or I didn't quite get as much soil under one side of him. It was a bit awkward to pot him out as it has this massive nut hanging off it and then roots hanging under that.
    But it got me thinking is this a natural phenomena due to the nut position during these early stages of growth?
    We always see pictures of coconut palms on the lean.....
    Coconut Lean.jpg
     
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