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Can anyone tell me if FormPly plywood is safe to build an edible garden bed with?

 
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Hi there,

my lovely neighbor has made me a really nice raised garden bed structure but I am worried the wood he has used might leach toxins into my soil mix and then also into the food I'm wanting to grow. The wood is called Formply and it has a black phenolic over lay  - . My googling showed me that the glue used to stick the plywood together to make the formply is made from formaldehyde and the phenolic coating could also be toxic. Can anyone tell me if this stuff will leach into the soil and my plants?

Thanks

Nicky
 
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Hi Nicky, welcome to Permies!  It's hard to say with certainty unless a scientific study was done and published.  My guess is that after a decade, something will have had to degrade in the planter and would either have moved into the soil or water and thus could get into the plants.  
 
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red cedar works real well, I'd save the plywood for walls or floors, critter coops, other stuff
just $0.02 from a hobbyist
 
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Nicky,

I will throw out an option that was recommended to me via this site for my own raised bed.  The product is called drylok and can be found at Home Depot.  Normally this would be applied to masonry.  I too use raised beds.  However my beds are inoculated with wine caps, a mushroom that ravenously attacks wood and breaks it down.  Since my sides are wood, I need to stop the fungi.  I would imagine that if it can stop mushrooms that it can stop glue.

Eric
 
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Hi there,

thanks for your responses.

I'm just trying to get info on the potential toxicity of the Formply garden bed that my neighbor has made thats sitting in the yard waiting to be filled. Mike is correct in that I havent as yet been able to find any sort of info with regards to the extent the formeldehyde glue and phenolic coating would leach into the soil and then into the plants.
As I see it, without knowing the toxicity risk, but knowing that the Formply is made from toxic substances I either;
A) Dismantle it and not use it, in place of something less toxic (like cedar)
b) Cover it with some plastic garden sheeting (wondering about the toxicity of the plastic)
c) Paint the formply with non toxic Milk Paint to seal it.

Eric I just looked up Drylok and it's fairly toxic stuff and not ideal for a vegetable garden. http://www.drylok.com/products/drylok-extreme-masonry-waterproofer/drylok-extreme-masonry-waterproofer-sds.pdf

I'm so bummed out as it is not a good feeling thinking your garden bed might be toxic. All solutions so far means more expense and delaying putting it together and getting going. Ho hum!

thanks again
Nicky

 
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hau Nicky, the toxicity of formply is contained by the Phenolic coating, once that starts to degrade (about 6 months in a composting situation) the formalin will begin to leach into everything surrounding it and it will even move by runoff (rain, water from a hose, etc.).

When you are gardening you really want to try and stay away from almost any man made items that have a coating, that coating is there to prevent something from escaping or being leached.
The way I try to think about such items is "would I eat off it? would I let my animals eat off it? will it break down into minute particles?) once I can say yes to the first two and no to the third, I am ok with trialing in a controlled area.

Redhawk
 
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