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Screening under raised bed? Toxic?

Hello:

I'm putting in a new organic garden next Spring and want to start preparing the raised bed now. The garden adjoins our lawn, under which we have a big mole problem. Presuming the moles will eventually find our garden's 18" raised bed, we hope to line the bottom of the bed with some sort of barrier to prevent the moles' access from below (something that will allow drainage), before we fill the bed with organic compost. We thought of using wire mesh with a 1/2-inch grid, but the product's label says it contains zinc and is therefore toxic. Landscape cloth is made of plastic, also toxic.

Should I forego the grid lining for the bottom of the bed and learn to live with the moles? Or am I being way too cautious about using wire mesh or plastic cloth and should I just use one or the other?

Thanks!
 
Zinc toxic? Where did you get that info? Look on the label of your multivitamin and you will see zinc as an ingredient. Zinc is sold in lozenge form for sore throats. Ingesting zinc isn't toxic in small quantities. Breathing zinc is hard on the lungs so perhaps you saw a warning about inhaling it. (The folks who manufacture the wire wear protective masks.) The hardware cloth would be your best bet for keeping the moles out of your raised beds. I really don't think you have anything to worry about with the zinc.
 

“We’re gypsies in the palace, he’s left us here alone The order of sleepless knights will now assume the throne.”

 

western Kentucky, the land between the rivers

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Yeah, the toxicity warning kinda confused me, too, as I'm aware that zinc is beneficial in small amounts. It's galvanized wire I'm talking about here. Perhaps something about the process by which it is manufactured resulted in the warning label. The wire was made in California, which has very strict rules about consumer protection. Perhaps when it's galvanized it causes a toxic zinc compound. Or maybe it's totally benign under most circumstances but it's labeled as toxic just in case someone might try to weld it to something else and the zinc fumes would be hazardous. I wish I knew why it had the warning label on it. The last thing I want to do is grow food for health and self-sufficiency and then find out years later that I've poisoned myself.

Anyway, thanks for your input on this, granny kate.
 
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Why not contact the manufacturer and ask about the zinc warning if it concerns you?
 
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There are several types of landscaping cloth. Not really sure if they are toxic.
 
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I've never heard of any landscape fabric that was toxic unless you were planning on physically ingesting the fabric itself.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"My body is a temple - unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper."

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"And no, I'm NOT being snarky."

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Zone 7a, Culpeper, Virginia

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The galvanized screen my wife bought, turns out it was made in China. That's enough to scare me away from using it. Toys for kids that are made in China have lead in them. There's no telling what they did to the galvanized wire. Whatever is in it, I don't want to end up eating it through my food.

Landscape cloth sounds like it might be the best bet. However, a neighbor told me that moles don't eat vegetables; they eat worms. Is this true? Do we even need to put down landscape cloth?
 
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If you have a mole problem, yes. Voles are mice
like and yes, they will eat your veggies but just to the soil level Frowner . Will the landscape fabric or wire keep voles out..only if they travel underground and enter that way. They can walk right(at ground level) in if it suits them.
That wire will keep groundhogs from burrowing under and in. They eat grubs and worms. Gh will trash your garden in an evening.
 
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Thanks for everyone's input!

Michael
 
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Zinc is an essential micro nutrient, both in humans and plants. However zinc can be a toxin but the only reported case of zinc toxicity that I have seen involved some ingesting several hundred zinc pennies.
There might be a theoretical possibility that placing galvanized fence fabric under a garden bed might some day increase the amount of zinc to toxic amounts but for as long as we have been using galvanized fencing around the gardens that has not appeared to be a problem.
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong but I seem to remember from chemistry classes somewhere along the way that it takes an acid to break down metals like zinc. Unless your soil is terribly acidic, I believe that zinc will stay put on the wire rather than wandering about your soil. Aren't those carbon to metal bonds pretty strong? Maybe we'll hear from one of our science folks... Wink
 
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The galvanized coating from the hardware cloth used on my old rabbit cages from years ago has been washed off by the rain and the wire is now rusting. I have had to replace some field fence that was galvanized because rust caused that fence to break apart. Neither of them were in contact with soil.
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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Acid rain may be the culprit.
 

 Zone 7b  Southeastern PA

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Long ago I found a scientific link that said that while galvanization does break down off of metal fencing and patio panels, plants cannot uptake it, so you won't have to worry about it in your soil. Perhaps the link is in the archives here if you want to find it.

Even China can't change how to galvanize steel, (lead isn't involved in the process) so it won't act any differently. Like Kimm said, once the steel is exposed after the galvanization is gone, moles and gophers can easily pull it apart, hardware cloth lasts longer than chicken wire Smiler
 
============= Love your soil.....feed your worms... (Used to be Sweetpea, contributing here since 2002)
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