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Nails in old wood.... leave or take out

 
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hugelkultur
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I have an old shed that was pushed down and now I have a pile of wood from it. Most boards still have nails in them. I’m wondering if it’s ok in the bottom of beds. Besides the obvious risk of sharp objects, are there other negative issues with leaving them in. I would be burrying them in the very bottom of 5 ft mounds. Thoughts?

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pollinator
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I would prefer to take them out just incase, someone/you a few year start digging/fixing it and hurt yourself due to now knowing/forgetting.
Why do you want to leave the nails as is.
 
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I'd leave them, will corrode rapidly by the looks of it anyway
 
pollinator
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I would also leave them. I left the nails in my much smaller mounds. I figure they are another unusual surface that might provide some refuge for some bacteria as well as being a source of very slow release minerals.  They will also be a big pain to remove and  I would expect a much higher risk of injury during removal than any other time.
 
gardener
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Bottom of a 5 foot hugel-ish mound? I'd leave them. The exception being galvanized nails. Nasty chemicals there.
 
pollinator
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Please don't leave them. Whatever you bury will eventually come back to the surface and become a hazard. Instead of corroding away some of those nails will corrode into very long, thin and very sharp shapes. Those are a lovely invitation to some nasty cuts and, at worst, to tetanus. Instead of burying, you can burn that pile and use the ash in the garden. It will be very easy to remove nails and metals from it by a magnet.
 
pollinator
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i have buried some in my beds, exact same situation (probably more likely to hurt myself trying to take them out). My garden was the site of lots of trash burning in the past and I know there are bad things there that surface every once in a while (booze bottle pieces, pieces of burned plastic residue, metal scrap) and so nobody goes barefoot, plus I do keep my tetanus current since it is in the dirt and I usually have open cuts on my hands anyway from one crazy project or another. I find nails all the time, if going barefoot is important for you you might want to reconsider. For me, in a place with all sorts of venomous critters and stabby things to step on, it's garden boots so I dont care.
 
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I'd leave them in there.  By the time the wood is decayed enough to be digging it in, I'm guessing the metal will be rusted away as well.  

One of those boards kind of looked like it was treated.  I'm guessing/assuming treated wood wouldn't be beneficial in a hugelbed...
 
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I would take out the treated wood and plywood and bury it, nails and all.
 
Jesse Ray
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Thanks for all the replies. I’d rather not spend all the time pulling them...I don’t anticipate that level of soil ever being disturbed, negating the issue of exposing dangerous objects. I’ll pull the newest looking nails that held the corrugated greenhouse material as they have a rubber ring on them, but the rest I’ll leave. Many have rusted substantially already.
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Newer looking nails with rubber ring on them.. these will be removed.
 
Jesse Ray
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s. ayalp wrote:Please don't leave them. Whatever you bury will eventually come back to the surface and become a hazard. Instead of corroding away some of those nails will corrode into very long, thin and very sharp shapes. Those are a lovely invitation to some nasty cuts and, at worst, to tetanus. Instead of burying, you can burn that pile and use the ash in the garden. It will be very easy to remove nails and metals from it by a magnet.



That was the original plan until I realized Hugelkulture, hence the dilemma.

Burn nothing is supposed to be my new motto.. so....
 
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Trace Oswald wrote:I would take out the treated wood and plywood and bury it, nails and all.



Yeah, I would reuse the treated ply for something else. The nails are not worth worrying about.

With the 'clean' timber you could also use it to make biochar. It will depend on your situation, as to what is the best use. Biochar practically lasts forever, but has fairly limited benefit in soils that are really good to start with. Hugelculture is good for boosting fungi along with other benefits.
 
pollinator
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So it's okay to use old plywood and treated wood in a hugelkultur?  I haven't seen that other places here.  Are there cautions on what you would plant in it if you do?  I have an old shed that I'm reclaiming from ivy and it definitely can't be used for anything else (WAY more disintegrated than the wood in the pictures here).
 
master steward
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Our daughter recently stepped on a nail after cleaning out the chicken house.  We would never have left wood laying around nor any that had a nail in it.  Who knows where it came from??

Those nails would be best hammered flat if they cannot be removed.
 
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Sonja Draven wrote:So it's okay to use old plywood and treated wood in a hugelkultur?  I haven't seen that other places here.  Are there cautions on what you would plant in it if you do?  I have an old shed that I'm reclaiming from ivy and it definitely can't be used for anything else (WAY more disintegrated than the wood in the pictures here).



I think what was meant here  

I would take out the treated wood and plywood and bury it, nails and all.

 was to remove the treated wood and plywood and bury every thing else nails and all.

I personally don't think it's OK to use old plywood and treated wood in a hugelkultur.  
I don't think it's OK to use treated wood anywhere and would deal with it like 'toxic waste'.
 
Sonja Draven
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Thanks, Judith, that is how I've always seen it but I'm open to being wrong and learning.  :)  I did forget to mention that the plywood was also painted with some kind of weather-protection paint so that's another factor in its toxicity.
 
gardener
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Nails can take up to 10 years to dissolve by rust and that only happens in areas where the soil goes through wet-dry-wet stages, ask any "treasure hunter" that uses a metal detector.

galvanized nails will also rust once the zinc has dissolved, contrary to many beliefs, only burning galvanized nails or wire or sheet will release nasty, harmful chemical vapors.

Treated wood is dependent upon when it was made, older wood will be cupric dominant and very nasty to your microbiome, the newer treatments are still nasty to the microbiome but they are less so than the older treatment materials.
I have not yet found a good solution for treated woods other than treating them with sodium hydroxide and then fungi, the sodium hydroxide soaks in and reacts with the nasty chemicals to change them to easier to digest chemicals then the fungi finish off the breakdown.

Most of the more recent paints contain no lead and the latex ones are now probably less harmful than the oil based ones. Myco remediation is the best way to deal with these items.

 
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Archaeologists find bits and pieces of metal years, even centuries old.  That suggests the nails won't rust terribly fast.
Could they be a source of minerals?  A little, however fast they rust/corrode.
Galvanized?  Usually done with zinc.  When the coating corrodes it forms zinc oxide.  Do plants need zinc?  I don't know.

So, I would consider safety when you re-work the beds years from now a bigger issue then minerals left behind.
 
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It is very true that some artifacts are found by archeologists...

under very specific circumstances - that are not so common as to constitute the rule.

Knowing this difference is part of responsible work.
 
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I wouldn't care that much about the nails, but burn down the whole crap and put the ash into the trash bin. From the pics, there seems quite some leftover from paintings. None knows what kind of colour with whatever toxic component was used? I wouldn't want to grow with that stuff inside.
 
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Iron occurs naturally in plants, and they do benefit of some iron being present in the soil. Mostly there's enough of it, especially in sandy soil.
There might be a shortage of it in clay with a high pH value.

I would still not be crazy about nails or other iron objects in the soil, but I see no reason to worry about an occasional rusty nail.
The wood in the picture does look treated, yes, and you would expect that if it was part of a shed. I wouldn't want to use it for that reason.
 
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I would remove the easy nails, and ALL nails that are NOT regular iron nails.
I would hammer bend the nails not removed.
Like the other commenters NO plywood or strand or composite board, NO treated wood, and NO painted wood, and NO painted wood ashes.
 
pollinator
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If you go the route of removing the nails, cutting them out with a power saw (either side of the nail) can make the removal a lot quicker than removing them with a hammer or crow bar, especially if they are embedded, spiral or are in tough wood.
 
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