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  1. #1
    Senior Member Gotte's Avatar
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    growing veg by main road

    I know it's more gardening than cycling, but here goes anyway...

    I'm thinking of growing vegetables this year in my front garden - it's the only sunny space we have - trouble is, it's next to a moderately busy main road. It concerns me that any veg I grow will be absorbing all that pollution from the traffic.
    Anyone know if this is a real concern?

    Many thanks

  2. #2
    Race and Ride michaeldmanthey's Avatar
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    I am not an expert on gardening but I would think you should be concerned about exhaust being sucked into you Vegies.
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  3. #3
    50000 Guatts of power 127.0.0.1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gotte View Post
    I know it's more gardening than cycling, but here goes anyway...

    I'm thinking of growing vegetables this year in my front garden - it's the only sunny space we have - trouble is, it's next to a moderately busy main road. It concerns me that any veg I grow will be absorbing all that pollution from the traffic.
    Anyone know if this is a real concern?

    Many thanks

    exhaust is not a problem, but what drains off the road and into the soil is a problem. hell, exhaust
    might make the stuff grow much better.

    you will get mercury and lead and a host of other metals from road runoff (mostly from garbage and special greases trucks use)

    will it hurt you probably not, it depends on what plant and how it takes up stuff from the soil





    ---->get a soil analysis done from 4 corners of your plot, and if that passes, you will be fine
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  4. #4
    Scum, Freezebag! Mo'Phat's Avatar
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    Exhaust, oil, rubber, dust, dirt, grime, spit, cigarette ash, soda, coffee, boogers, you name it...it probably comes off of or out of a car at some point. I wouldn't want to eat that. Even with washing, the pollutants leech into the soil and into the plant....unless you crave Tommaco, then I'd suggest the backyard.

    Also, front yard, along the road, equals dog piss.
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  5. #5
    But on the road more MTBLover's Avatar
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    I wouldn't do it either. At the very least, if you are insistent on growing stuff in your front yard, I'd use raised beds, filled with fresh soil, with a sealed bottom so that no roots can contact the soil that's currently in your yard. That won't address the exhaust and urinary/fecal contamination issues (and those are serious), but at least you won't be sucking up decades of pollutants that have gotten into your soil.

    BTW- I live in a major city, and this issue comes up all the time. We generally assume that the ambient soil just doesn't cut the mustard, as it were. Most urban gardeners go with the raised bed approach, or use containers- these work especially well for things like tomatoes, but not for melons, for obvious reasons. But then again, while there are many urban gardeners here (and in most cities, I'd wager), nearly all try to avoid situating their crops next to streets and roads- they're ordinarily in a vacant lot or yard that's set back from the street.

    Good luck- you can successfully do this, I'm sure, but I'd definitely get the soil analysis done., as 127 suggests. Your state extension service will do that for you, usually for a small fee.

  6. #6
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    Depending where you live, you might to google "community gardens" in your city. I know there are several in Madison, and they're typically a little off the beaten path.

    Another option is to find a friend who's not too far away with an appropriate back yard who would agree to go together with you on this project. You'd have to supply something extra--more of the work planting or weeding or whatever.

    I like raised beds with lots of mulch once the soil warms up. Then you have very little work as the mulch keeps the weeds down and keeps the soil from drying out. Water heavily once a week if it hasn't rained, rather than give a little every day. Otherwise the roots don't grown down as well if they can always get water at the top.

    If you learn how to make compost from your cooking scraps or with red worms, then you'll really be giving the earth a very big hug.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mo'Phat View Post
    Exhaust, oil, rubber, dust, dirt, grime, spit, cigarette ash, soda, coffee, boogers, you name it...it probably comes off of or out of a car at some point. I wouldn't want to eat that. Even with washing, the pollutants leech into the soil and into the plant....unless you crave Tommaco, then I'd suggest the backyard.

    Also, front yard, along the road, equals dog piss.


    Could a person not plant a thick hedge between the road and garden to block some of that?



    And to the OP:

    What about doing the planting in pots rather than right in the soil of the front yard?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Billy Bones's Avatar
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    Wonder if there're references that compare the pollution burden of gardens beside a road and (say) under a sky dropping pollutants from all over the planet. That bit about road run-off above has the "feel" of significance. A cursory GOOGLE didn't kick out anything.

    I live in a region formerly known for orchards and many the properties there are dangerously contaminated with dozens of persistent toxins. We really need to be careful.

    Then again, it might just be safer to eat your own roadside veggies that to eat those whose origin and transportation misadventures you know not.

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  9. #9
    But on the road more MTBLover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IceNine View Post
    If you learn how to make compost from your cooking scraps or with red worms, then you'll really be giving the earth a very big hug.

  10. #10
    Scum, Freezebag! Mo'Phat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Bones View Post
    Wonder if there're references that compare the pollution burden of gardens beside a road and (say) under a sky dropping pollutants from all over the planet. That bit about road run-off above has the "feel" of significance. A cursory GOOGLE didn't kick out anything.
    I'd argue that quite a large portion of the problem is the perception that it's nasty. In reality, I'm sure all of the food that we eat has been pissed on, pooped out, or otherwise soiled in one way or another. Yet I'm still overweight...I can't get enough of it.

    But it's another thing altogether to watch your neighbor's black lab lift his leg on your garden, then rush right out there to pick a fresh, moist strawberry.

    Same thing with cars. If a schoolbus spewed black diesel smoke all over my plants, I don't think I could convince myself that they taste exactly like the ones I have planted in the backyard...which are getting the exact same pollution, it's just not quite as obvious.
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  11. #11
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I'd go with the community garden like IceNine mentioned. Most towns have them. If yours doesn't, ask around. There might be people who will let you garden on their property--especially if they get a cut of the harvest.

    We once had a garden way in the back of the big lot behind a warehouse. They let us use it for free (a relative worked there). We used our bikes to get there to tend the garden. Water availability was a problem--we had to lug big buckets about 100 paces to irrigate.


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  12. #12
    Senior Member Gotte's Avatar
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    Thanks for that, all.
    Let me explain a bit about my plot. It's only small, two verges on a 30 x 15 ft plot. It's walled off from the road, so no worries about dogs, runoff etc. the soil is not that good, but deep. I compost all our kitchen/garden waste, and have about 3 years worth working away in the back. The main crop I was thinking of growing were potatoes, and maybe onions and leeks.
    I'm in the the North West of the UK, so we're hardly tropical. Temperate, I believe would be a more acurate description.
    I've tried growing tomatoes and peppers with limited success, but only in pots in the porch, which gets all the sun and acts like a greenhouse. I might try those again this year.
    I would just grow in the back, but we have a nice garden area - in a Japanese style (gravel, water feature, seating area) We have no real space there to grow anything, and what soil there is is pretty poor, as it's mainly in the shadow of the house.

    I would take a community garden or allotment, as we call them here, but unfortunately, they are really popular at the moment because of the economy, and there is a really long waiting list.

    I think I will try containers, maybe around the side of the house, which is further from the road and which gets more sun than the back.

    Actually, thinking about it, that might be the best solution, as the wall we have that divides us from the wall will actually cast a shadow over the main bed I intended to use.

    Again, many thanks for the input.

    All the best.

  13. #13
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Go ahead and plant your vegetables........

    Farmers have been planting vegetables next to the road since before there were roads.

    No kidding...........

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