My house was built in 1949 in central Florida. I imagine every now-banned toxic substance was used on this place to fight pests. We still have an occasional application of pesticides to fight off the bugs from entering our home. Although, I have to say, that even when we let our service lapse for a few years, we rarely saw any bugs (this is why I think our house is permanently poisoned.) My neighbor wants me to plant a vegetable patch there- she thinks it is perfect and she will water it with her built in sprinkler. It is approximately 6-8 feet wide, gets full sun and is fenced on one side. I would plant against the fence. But, I’m greatly concerned about eating things planted so close to the house. I’ve called the local extension and done some searching on the internet. No one has a definitive answer. My extension office did suggest pots, but I haven’t had much luck growing vegetables in pots! I’ve grown lots of flowers and plants with success in this area and the dirt is rich and full of earthworms. The weeds are currently greatly enjoying it! Any suggestions?
I’d be starting with a serious soil test to identify what, if any, residues or contaminants you are dealing with. Not just pH, but to test for metals and toxins and so on. The State of Florida offers many:
Your local (county) extension service can direct you about getting thorough tests as well.
In urban settings where community gardens and other plots are often places where lead and other toxins have gotten into the soil, raised beds are often used, with the further barrier (in the bottom of the beds) of landscape fabric being installed. For instance, this project run by Brown University addressed the issues and “solutions” in a PDF.
I can’t give you the link (it seems to be broken) but do this to get the PDF yourself:
in Google search, enter “bay street area raised garden beds project.” The PDF should be the first result.
Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.