Urban Gardening

Safety of Eating Vegetables Grown in Polluted Air


LesleyS added on February 7, 2012 | Answered

My gardening space is a balcony above a highly traveled roadway. Soot and grime get all over everything from the roadway below.

Is it safe to garden vegetables and herbs in this environment? Any suggestions for shielding plants from the direct effects of the polluted air blown up from the street?

Thanks in advance!


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ANSWERS
Heather
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on February 12, 2012

It is safer to grow some vegetables and herbs compared to others. Anything that grows below the soil (such as carrots and radishes) are fine. Above the soil line, the problems vary depending on the type of plants. For example, fast growing plants are more affected by pollutants. So lettuces and basil, may be more affected than tomatoes and peppers.

Regardless, if you have concerns about the health of your plants from pollutants, there are things you can do to reduce the affects. First, overhead watering will work. While most of the time, overhead watering can cause issue like fungus, in your case, overhead watering will help to routinely wash away the day's pollution.

Also, you can use row cover material to cover your plants. This will help filter away the pollutants before they can settle on your plants.

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