On a gardening day, the discarded bookshelf on the sidewalk out front looks like a good idea for a raised bed!
It does look good at a glance, but first you should to remove the backboard and tie the raised bed into the soil below for proper drainage, and also ideally raised beds should be built with pressure-treated lumber or even PVC which resists rot from moisture whereas the particle-board and veneer used for most bookshelves is pretty weak and filled with glue and stuff and, well, will probably bend and rot and break apart in a hurry while leeching chemicals into the bed…but at the same time, it’s always worth a try! Won’t be me trying, but I’d like the hear the result.
I wouldn’t suggest growing plants you plan on eating in it, but I’ve grown plenty of plants in particle board bookshelves. It’s great for a season, so I usually grow annuals or farm succulents in it. When the season’s over, the shelf goes in the trash.
pressure treated wood is full of nasty heavy metals, particle board is just sawdust compressed at high pressure and heat , i compost it in the garden, it swells and falls apart in no time, back to sawdust.
Wafer board sheeting, oriented strand, or aspenite, is made with formaldehyde glue, stands up a little longer but also recycles after a season or two, sowbugs love to chew on it, but no problem in the compost either!
best bet would be plywood, it does not cup or warp or turn to mush, sheet metal sides work too, prevents drying out the soil, which can be a big problem in raised beds, esp when they are small.
I just noticed this discussion on my upcycled Ikea bookshelf raised bed. Before lugging in the bookshelf from the street, I consulted my farming expert, Erin, who confirmed that it should work and I that could leave the cardboard on the back. Since our Brooklyn backyard is all concrete, there is no soil below for it to intermingle with, anyway.
I did plant lots of things that we plan to eat in it, so I hope that there isn’t leeching happening to worry about. There are certainly better ways to create raised beds, but none of them were as free and available to me as this one! I’ll report back with how it holds up throughout the summer.