So last year I put in four new blueberry plants in raised beds and figured it would be an ideal way to test out a few different non-toxic wood-protection products. It was suggested that I give an update after a year to see how the three products have fared so far.
As a reminder, I used a different treatment on each of the four raised beds: Eco Wood Treatment, milk paint, beeswax & olive oil, and the control (no treatment). In this photo from last year, you can see how all four looked. From left to right: untreated, Eco Wood Treatment, milk paint, beeswax & olive oil.
I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed in the appearance of all of them now. After just a year, they all look exactly the same: gray. The beautiful color of the beeswax/oil treatment is gone. I was expecting that for the Eco treatment and the no-treatment, but I’d hoped that the beeswax/oil would at least have retained some of the color. Oh well. Color would have been a bonus for me, not a deal breaker. But it’s definitely something to keep in mind if it’s more important in your garden. Maybe a tinted Eco treatment or milk paint?
Most important is the protection of the wood, which was the whole point for me in treating the wood at all. As a quick test, I dribbled some water on them all. The natural, Eco, and milk paint all seem the same–the water seems to soak right in. But with the beeswax/oil, the water does actually bead a bit. It’s not a perfect bead–it does soak in after it sits for a bit. But the fact that it beads at all makes it different than the other three. It’s certainly hard to tell after just a year if that will actually make a difference in protecting the wood over the long run. But there is a little difference so far. I’ll do some more updates in future seasons.
One note on the Eco Wood Treatment: I had extra left over last year, so I kept it in the paint can in which I’d mixed it. Just a couple of months ago, I was cleaning up my shop and moved the can. The liquid had started to eat through the metal can and was leaking onto my work bench. Um. Now that doesn’t mean it’s something toxic–Coke can eat through some metals if it sits long enough. But it does give me a little pause. We’ll see if it does a fabulous job of protecting the wood or not. But I at least won’t be mixing up any more than I absolutely need for a single application at a time, if I use it in the future.
On another note, I’m extremely pleased with the performance of the plants themselves. They grew fantastically in just a year, and the one on the far left produced a bunch of berries this year. A shout-out to Backyard Berry Plants for their great stock and even more for the great growing and planting tips on their site. I planted these with their recommended “soil-less” method (peat and shredded pine bark) and followed their fertilizing suggestions, as well. The second from the right is actually a replacement this year; that one did die for an unknown reason last year. But the other three look fantastic.
(UPDATE: 3-year update here)