SAFE way to seal a planter box???

tragic59

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Hello all,

I'm new to gardening and new to the forum. I have been learning quite a bit reading through the forum topics. Thanks for the site and sharing all of your knowledge.

I want to use some planter boxes as a "green roof" over the firewood rack I'm building. I have some old wooden crates that I'd like to use for the planter boxes. They were free, very sturdy and have a great "rustic" look to them that I like... But, I need a way to water proof the inside of the boxes to prevent rot and keep my firewood dry.

I'm looking for some suggestions on what I could use to seal the inside of the boxes that would be safe to eat any veggies we grow in them.

I have a plan for drainage, so that shouldn't be an issue.

In the flower planter boxes that I've seen built, they used roofing tar to seal the insides of the boxes to avoid rot. But something tells me I might not want to eat veggies grown in a bed of roofing tar...

Any ideas?

Thanks!
 

lesa

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Welcome! Sounds like a neat idea! Would it be possible to put another container inside the cool wooden ones? Are they the size of window boxes, for instance? That is what I usually do. If not what about lining the boxes with heavy duty plastic? How are you planning on handling the drainage? Perhaps, a combination of waterproofing the "roof" of the wood pile and the plastic would work. Let us know your progress and we would love to see pics! Welcome!
 

journey11

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Hi Tragic59, and :welcome !

I'm not sure if the picture in my mind is accurate with what you're trying to describe, but I'll give it a shot...

I think you could use heavy duty plastic, like you'd use to line a fishpond. You could use it to cover the top of the roof (prior to setting your boxes on top). And if the roof is sloped to the back, you could run a gutter along the back to catch rain run-off and drainage from the planter boxes and carry it away. If you want to get really green, you could even route the gutter to a rain barrel that could be used to water the plants when needed.

I know you mentioned wanting to line the *inside* of the boxes. I'm still pondering options for that part... You're going to want them to drain enough that your plants don't get soggy feet. If the extra water is draining away and they are not sitting in water, they shouldn't rot any time soon. You may even want to give the boxes little "feet" to allow drainage underneath, maybe like a 1/2". I'm assuming you'd have to take them down yearly and remove the dead plants/put in fresh soil. Perhaps painting them with Linseed oil annually would be enough to keep them in good condition. I think too, you'll want to add something to your soil mix that helps it retain moisture for the roots of the plants, like spaghum peat moss.

Sounds like you are looking to make efficient use of your space? I'd like to see some pics of your project if you have time to post some. It sounds like a very clever and interesting project.
 

Collector

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Welcome, I use heavy plastic sheeting in the planter boxes I built for my wife. It works really well just stapled it inside cut drain holes to match the holes in the box.
 

tragic59

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Thanks for the replies!

I think I will go with the plastic sheeting stapled inside the crates.

I am using old raisin crates. They are probably 2' x 3 1/2', give or take, and about 8" deep. They were used in raisin processing "back in the day" and are plentiful in my area of the Central Valley of California. I found a bunch of them for free on Craigslist and have used them to build a nesting box for our Muscovy Ducks and now I'm using them for the planter boxes for the green roof on the firewood rack...

The firewood rack is being built along the fence around our vegetable garden, so this green roof will add useful square footage for gardening, if I'm able to pull it off.

My plan for drainage is to run a 3/4" PVC pipe with holes drilled in it as a "french drain" inside the lower corner of the crates, which should be adequate, given the incline the crates are mounted on. I will probably wrap the PVC with landscaping clothe, and surround it with a couple inches of gravel to help drainage and prevent my soil from clogging/filling the pipe.

I have one section of the firewood rack just about done, and I will try to snap a pic and post it to this thread so that everyone can see what I've been trying to describe. But you'll have to forgive the mess the backyard is in right now, as well as the camera-phone photo.

Thanks again!
 

tragic59

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Here is a "front view" of the rack, showing the beginning of the raisin crate green roof. Eventually, the rack will run the full length of the garden fence. Approximately 30' on that side. Then, depending on how much wood that holds, we may extend it along another 30' side of the garden...

6949_firewood_rack_1.jpg


This shows the same section from the side, so you can get an idea of the incline that the crates are mounted at.

6949_firewood_rack_2.jpg
 

lesa

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That looks like it will work out perfectly! I love it, completely functional and really cool looking! Can't wait to see it with plants in it. Do you really need that much wood in sunny California? That sounds more like a wood pile in upstate NY! Great project- keep us updated!
 

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