Bamboo Fumigation Concerns...


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Hi, my name is Mark and I’m a fairly new raised bed gardener in Pennsylvania. I grow primarily tomatoes, peppers and assorted leafy greens, and I strive to maintain as organic a garden as possible. I find myself facing a conundrum, and I was hoping to get your takes on it.

This year, in an attempt to support my tomato and pepper garden in as natural a way as possible, I sourced a box of 6’ x 1” bamboo stakes from lowes.com. These were labeled on their product page as “natural” on the website, and I saw nothing at all out of the ordinary. I drove 20 of them in my garden around my tomato plants. Later that day, a neighbor happened to notice and asked what kind of bamboo I had used, knowing my intent to avoid chemicals in my garden. He suggested that I double check that these posts weren’t treated/fumigated with harsh pesticides. I inspected the shipping materials and found the manufacturer’s url and quickly came to learn that these tonkin bamboo posts had indeed been fumigated with methyl bromide. A quick google search confirmed my concerns that MB was quite toxic, and not something to put in your garden. (Apparently, this unfortunately appears to be a fairly common practice when importing bamboo.)

I removed the stakes later that evening, but not until after a hard rain had fallen. Now I find myself uncertain of what I should do next, and am hoping that you could share your opinions on the matter. To what degree should I worry that methyl bromide has leached into my soil? Is my organic garden now potentially-contaminated and unsafe for my family to grow vegetables in?

I'm finding that it's incredibly challenging to find answers to this type of problem on the internet, and I thank you for your time and energy. Be well!

Mark
Pennsylvania
 
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Hi, my name is Mark and I’m a fairly new raised bed gardener in Pennsylvania. I grow primarily tomatoes, peppers and assorted leafy greens, and I strive to maintain as organic a garden as possible. I find myself facing a conundrum, and I was hoping to get your takes on it.

This year, in an attempt to support my tomato and pepper garden in as natural a way as possible, I sourced a box of 6’ x 1” bamboo stakes from lowes.com. These were labeled on their product page as “natural” on the website, and I saw nothing at all out of the ordinary. I drove 20 of them in my garden around my tomato plants. Later that day, a neighbor happened to notice and asked what kind of bamboo I had used, knowing my intent to avoid chemicals in my garden. He suggested that I double check that these posts weren’t treated/fumigated with harsh pesticides. I inspected the shipping materials and found the manufacturer’s url and quickly came to learn that these tonkin bamboo posts had indeed been fumigated with methyl bromide. A quick google search confirmed my concerns that MB was quite toxic, and not something to put in your garden. (Apparently, this unfortunately appears to be a fairly common practice when importing bamboo.)

I removed the stakes later that evening, but not until after a hard rain had fallen. Now I find myself uncertain of what I should do next, and am hoping that you could share your opinions on the matter. To what degree should I worry that methyl bromide has leached into my soil? Is my organic garden now potentially-contaminated and unsafe for my family to grow vegetables in?

I'm finding that it's incredibly challenging to find answers to this type of problem on the internet, and I thank you for your time and energy. Be well!

Mark
Pennsylvania
Not to worry. Methyl Bromide DOES NOT PROVIDE ANY RESIDUAL PROTECTION. In other words it just goes away. It has a lifespan of 21 days. MB is widely used. Any imported wood was treated with it. Imported textiles is treated with it. Just about anything that could carry or hide an insect has been treated with it. You bamboo is perfectly safe and so is your soil.
 
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Not to worry. Methyl Bromide DOES NOT PROVIDE ANY RESIDUAL PROTECTION. In other words it just goes away. It has a lifespan of 21 days. MB is widely used. Any imported wood was treated with it. Imported textiles is treated with it. Just about anything that could carry or hide an insect has been treated with it. You bamboo is perfectly safe and so is your soil.

Thank you for your response Chuck, I appreciate your time and knowledge of the subject. Here's to a great Summer of growing (and learning)! -M
 

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