This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
When I rebuilt a portion of my greenhouses five years ago, experience had taught me the ne- j cessity of providing something more permanent than ordinary boarding for the benches, as it is well-known that, with the ordinary hemlock or pine boards, benches will not last more than four or five years. All my new benches put up at that time were made with ordinary roofing slate with a covering of half an inch or so of cement spread over them. This gave strength enough to hold a boy of one hundred pounds weight. The bearers we used were of yellow pine. These benches cost only about twenty-five per cent, more than the ordinary board benches. They have now been in use for over five years and look as if they would last for fifty years to come. Since then whenever any of our old front board benches have given way we have always slate on hand to use in rebuilding, but in some of our wide middle benches, where it is necessary for men to walk on them, the slate is not strong enough, and on such we have adopted the plan of spreading an inch of cement over the wood, using two parts sand to one part cement, which soon hardens to be as solid as flagging.
There is no need of cementing the board benches until they have been in use two or three years, as they will not decay before that time, and besides it is better to have the benches well seasoned so that there will be little expansion or contraction before putting on the cement. We have old benches that were cemented five years ago that are perfectly sound. Of course when such benches are cemented, provision must be made for letting off the water. This is usually done by using double bearers every eight or ten feet, and cutting out a space of an inch or so of the boarding so that the water can pass through. Anyone by this process of cementing can preserve wooden benches ten years, and maybe longer. Those which we did five years ago are yet perfectly sound, and are in every way as satisfactory as our slate benches. Any old wooden bench showing signs of decay can be preserved in this way at trifling expense. Every bench in our greenhouses to-day is cemented either above the boards or above slating.