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Any thoughts on using tracks for a raised bed?

 
Janet Murdock
Posts: 7
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Last summer we filled in our in ground pool. We left the sidewalks leaving a 20 X 40 foot garden area in the center. The dirt used to fill the pool contained quite a bit of grass and straw so we expect a bit of settling over time. Not wanting to end up with plants lower than the level of the sidewalk as it settles we will plant in raised beds allowing for sinking/settling.

My thoughts are to mound rotting logs on the bottom of each bed. As things rot and settle the plants will end up at ground level. In a few years we will add more wood and a more traditional Hugelkultur can be used.

Today my husband found a source for free used tracks. Has anyone used these for raised beds? I like the idea of something recycled and different. But I worry the holes on the sides will cause the dirt/wood to dry out faster. I love that they can be molded to any shape we want. Too good to be true?

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Stephanie Meyer
Posts: 39
Location: West Michigan Zone 5
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I might be a little concerned about chemicals leaching from the tracks into garden soil.
 
Janet Murdock
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Agreed! It was too good to be true, lol.
 
Morgan Barker
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Well, right now they exist as trash and am doubtful they can be recycled by many companies that shred tires due to the heavy steel linkage cleats imbedded in the rubber. Soooo, what else could we do to keep them out of a landfill?
Cut them once across the tread and lay them down as weed blocking pathways? Tire strips for long treacherous rutted driveways?
Fill them with earth and build retaining walls, might they have some earthship value?
They might make for a groovy suspended bridge for the little permies.
Workshop flooring.
Very heavy but indestructible continuous shingling.
Truck bed liner matting...
I am sure there are countless ideas from folks here that are way better than mine.
 
Bryan Elliott
Posts: 9
Location: Oklahoma Panhandle
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What chemicals are you concerned about? Rubber tires seem to last forever in dirt without breaking down. You could make some great looking borders for your raised beds and they'd be easy to move and change out.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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I would use them as you first thought of, as raised beds. I would install a liner so no worries about dirt leaking through the holes, it should be easy to do with cloth, just leave the bottom open or not, either way will work. I would not worry a lot about rubber leaching anything into the soil, unless it caught fire. I know where some of these tracks are sitting and they have been there for 20 years so far, the only thing I have noticed is that the metal in them is rusting away.
 
Alan Lamborn
Posts: 22
Location: Iowa (Zone 4-5)
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Do tires leach bad stuff?
I couldn't find the original article anymore, but sections of it were quoted near the end of this blog post: http://www.rural-revolution.com/2014/01/in-defense-of-our-tire-garden.html Essentially, if you leave the tire in a solid form the chemical gick should stay put within it. But I personally don't have experience with it, just wanted to share the information I was aware of. Good Luck!
 
Dillon Nichols
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Location: Victoria BC
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I've heard the opinion that used tires weep out oil/fuel etc residue that they absorbed during their lifespan driving/parking on filthy pavement... I don't have any solid data to go with that theory.

However, I would expect tracks spend a lot more time on not-pavement, and thus shouldn't exhibit this as much as a tire might.

Any impact on plant life is not apparent to the eye in my experience; I've seen a plenty of abandoned old tires surrounded by vegetation just as lush as that a few feet uphill.


Rubber is used for green roof underlay material, pond liners, etc... Thinking that the aquaponics people must know what is safe for fish, I found this:
http://aquaponicfun.com/general/pond-liner/, which calls out EPDM as a bad thing.

Then I looked at what sort of rubber tires are made from. Apparently many sorts! One paper mentions that EPDM, which is listed as a no-no due to outgassing and chemical leaching on the aquaponics site, is useful at 40-50 parts per hundred in sidewalls...


Guess it all comes down to your comfort level! If you want to keep them away from food plants, they could still be great for pathways or retaining walls in other areas.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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Vulcanized rubber (the end result that makes rubber useful as tires, innertubes, etc. is relatively inert unless it is burned. They use ground up tires as a playground mulch (if you will) and I've see it on pathways, in commercial building plant areas (again as a mulch). I would think that as long as you are not exposing it to chemicals that can break it down, you would be fairly safe in using it. I like to use cloth (cotton) for barriers in raised beds, it goes away over the years, it doesn't have any petro chemicals in it to leach anywhere and it does hold in the dirt while letting water through. It also harbors microbes quite well. If you burn vulcanized rubber, you have created a very toxic situation everywhere, air, land, water all will be poisoned by the remains of what had been a useful item.
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