Rail Road Ties
QUESTION: Two years ago, we purchased 1.2 acres in a suburban area. My backyard neighbor originally owned more than 10 acres, including my property. He is an old-school farmer who has used many chemicals during the past 45 years. He has treated for termites and fire ants, and he bordered the garden area (about 1/6 acre) with railroad ties. I plan to put eight chickens into a mobile pen in that part of the yard as soon as they hatch and get big enough. Should I remove the railroad ties since the chemicals in them are a source of contamination? And what should I do to restore the soil's health? Should I plant vegetables? Or should I treat the area for a year and plant next year? — S.K., Fort Worth
ANSWER: Remove the railroad ties, and then decontaminate the site. First, apply activated charcoal at a rate of 100 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Follow that with zeolite at 80 pounds per 1,000 square feet, and then apply Garrett Juice at about 2 gallons per 1,000 square feet. After that, follow my Basic Organic Program, but double the rate of dry molasses.
Railroad ties are wood timbers used to support steel rails, and are treated with heavy duty preservatives to prolong their life. According to the Creosote Council, "approximately 95% of all new railroad ties are preserved wood, as opposed to non-wood products of concrete, steel, or plastic. Of the wooden ties purchased, 98% are either creosote or creosote-borate treated. Approximately 2% of wooden ties are copper naphthenate or copper naphthenate-borate treated." Good for railroads, not good for gardens.
Railroad ties removed from service are still full of chemical preservatives
Railroad ties can contaminate the soil of the garden