Planting veggies and fruits next to the house OK?

editornj(7 Coastal NJ)April 16, 2012

Forgive me if this has already been explored. My forum search results weren't successful.

I have a huge empty bed on the South/West side of my house. It's the "back" so I'm not too interested in pretty foundation shrubs.

Are there health or house concerns in doing this? We built the house 4 years ago. The previous house was torn down... and it was originally built in the '60s.

Our basement is very dry, with a pump and a French drain.

I'm open to a raised-bed, but I laid cardboard last year, and now the soil is really nice.

Thanks so much!!!


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leira(6 MA)

If it's right next to where an old house used to be, you might have the soil tested for lead. Your county extension office can do this for you for a reasonable price.

Other than that, I'd just do it!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 12:48PM
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Lead and arsenic other heavy metals tend to be highest at the drip zone around a house. Vegetables do uptake heavy metals from the soil. In fact the engineering professor im doing independent study with has a grad student looking at contaminated community gardens. They found tomatoes with 16 ppm and arugula with 30!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 8:14PM
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It sounds like a good location - the south side of the house should get plenty of sun. Unless the former owners dumped chemicals in the ground, I wouldn't worry.

Here is a link that might be useful: What's Growing On?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 11:30PM
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If termite treatment is common in your area, your foundation soil also may be generously laced with Dursban, chlordane, or other serious chemicals that bind to soil, which were heavily used for several decades. This precaution applies only to the area right around the foundation, which may have been altered when you rebuilt.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 6:10AM
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I am an EPA Certified Lead Paint Risk Assessor. Leira and Mindyw3 are correct about the likely presence of lead contamination in those areas. (Mindy's post in particular) There is more information about lead in soil here:

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardening and lead contaminated soil

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 7:56AM
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