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“We want to eat what we grow, but not if we’re poisoning ourselves.”

by Prince Of Petworth December 14, 2015 at 2:25 pm 38 Comments

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Another December Garden Haul – container garden in Takoma

“Dear PoPville,

In the back yard of my house in Park View, we have two square planters constructed of wooden boards sunk a few inches into the ground and packed with top soil. This past season (our first in the house) we had modest success growing basil, rosemary, cilantro, heirloom carrots, green onions and mint. We had planned to be a bit more ambitious in the coming season, thinking peppers, cherry tomatoes, garlic, onions, greens and more herbs.

But last week a garden specialist with RiverSmart Homes did a survey of the backyard at my house with an eye to helping us design some improvements. With respect to our planters, she warned that the soil quality in DC can get so bad in terms of lead and other contaminants that we were putting ourselves at risk by eating what we grew and could potentially cause significant harm to our not-yet-born children should we feed them from it.

Does anyone have any advice for soil testing and possible mitigation? I know how widespread backyard gardening is in this town, so I can’t believe we have to just give up. We want to eat what we grow, but not if we’re poisoning ourselves.”

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