Dec 152010

When constructing a vegie bed it’s important to think about whether the material you are using is safe. Anything in your soil will more than likely end up in your plants… and with vegie gardens that means in your stomach! You need to keep this in mind, as well as the wider environmental impact of each product. Read on for some more detailed information on the most commonly used products.


This black, UV stable, fully weatherproof, insect resistant material is made entirely from recycled polystyrene and other styrenic plastics (the stuff that coffee cups and mobile phone cases are made from). It can also be made flame retardant if required. A kilogram of eWood comprises approximately 2 toner cartridges and 5 copier bottles. It looks like wood and can be worked like wood and painted, glued or varnished. By using this product you reduce the demand for timber: trees can be used for higher value products such as furniture and timber flooring and you create a market for a material diverting it from landfill. Another positive is that the manufacturer is based in Victoria (local jobs and reduced transport requirements) and their industrial plant is powered by 100% green electricity.


Copper Chromium Arsenate (CCA) was considered unsafe for human health and withdrawn from use as a timber preservative against pests and fungus. The arsenic component controlled wood fungi so an alternative was required. The solution was to combine copper with azole co-biocides and the technology has received extensive testing in Australia against CSIRO and other research organisations’ criteria for approval by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, under relevant state legislation and AS1604 – Specification for preservative treatment. Ecowood is suitable for H3 (above ground), H4 (ground contact) and H5 (softwood only) use. It can be used in playgrounds, removes the arsenic poisoning risks previously associated with machining treated timber and also reduces the amount of treated wood that ends up in landfill. There is a Material Safety Data Sheet available if you require further information.

Reclaimed Cypress Sleepers

Our Reclaimed Cypress, Cupresses macrocarpa is a native to North America but has been planted widely across Australia. It is important to note this is not Cypress Pine from the Callitris species. Cypress Pine does not possess the hardwood traits that our Reclaimed Cypress sleepers have.

Used as wind breaks across farms, the now oversized trees are being logged to provide a sustainable timber option. Farms across Gippsland are providing this timber. Our supplier’s business is focused on sustainability, which includes the products they sell and the energy used in harvesting, production and delivery.

Reclaimed Cypress sleepers are naturally resistant to termites and decay. This makes them ideal to use when landscaping. With no need for any chemical treatment, they are safe to use in the vegie patch.

Red Gum and Jarrah Sleepers (Recycled)

The timber from jarrah and redgum trees is dense, difficult to cut and has a high termite resistance. It has many uses including railway sleepers, fence posts, joinery and turning. The main source of our recycled sleepers are old railway sleepers and structures such as bridges and sheds. It is important to note that some of these sleepers may be impregnated with substances such as creosote and diesel that could leach into soil. We do carry recycled sleepers whenever possble that have not been treated with creosote, please check this with the yard staff when ordering if you are planning to use the sleepers for vegie beds.

Car tyres

Old car tyres are sometimes used by people in their gardens. BAAG recommends you steer well clear of this practice. Tyres can leach substances such as aluminium, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, sulphur and zinc from the rubber they are made of and if the tyres have been exposed to substances such as lead then they too will be leached. Zinc can accumulate in soil to levels that are toxic for plant life. Some of the substances used in the vulcanising process can be harmful to human health, having long-term negative effects. One accelerator for the vulcanisation process is also toxic to aquatic environments. Due to the substances leached from rubber as it degrades it is advisable not to use it as a mulch or in any of your landscaping.