urban vegetable garden: grade & subgrade drainage planning

neatlyfoldedSeptember 14, 2010

Hello. Newbie here.

I'm trying to revitalize a 12'x16' plot of mildly lead-contaminated (50ppm), compacted clay soil, in the middle of a tiny post-industrial 'backyard'. It's been suggested for obvious reasons that I plant in raised beds. Being fall, though, I'd like to start by focusing on improving grade / sub-grade drainage characteristics, so that the area overall is pleasant to garden in.

I can post or email photos -- ie, if anyone wants to check things out a bit before making suggestions.

Experienced urban gardeners from the Ohio Valley, please show some love.


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Hello and Welcome to Ohio Valley forum!
I am in Louisville too- by the airport

I'm sorry I can't help much with your question-
you might go to the 'search' box here on GW and type in lasagne (sp?) gardening-this is the process of layering browns and greens over your existing soil-I have not tried it, but it sounds easy (no tilling of existing soil) or try the compost forum using the search box or just reading the threads posted there...

you are wise to start now- it gives you a headstart on next year's crops....are you doing only veggies?
I have some heirloom seeds I can share (beans and tomatoes)
I have tons of flower seeds too- I have been gardening using the winter sowing method for about 8 years (there is a winter sowing forum here on GW- check it out-wonderful folks there!)

also, we have a plant swap in the spring- it will be posted here on the Ohio Valley forum- we would love to meet you and share some plants...we have such a good time-

best wishes and happy gardening!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 7:52AM
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As a rule, since plants do not readily bioaccumulate lead the level of lead in garden soils is considered roughly okay to about 300 parts per million. The simplest means of taking care of the problem is to increase the amount of organic matter in the soil and give your plants a choice of better nutrients. As this article from the University indicates most soils have a background level of lead contaimination ranging from 7 to 20 ppm.

Here is a link that might be useful: lead in soil

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 8:52AM
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Thanks, Linda & kimmsr! I will be heeding both of your recommendations!

A bit short on time at the moment... However, I should probably state that I've been trying to familiarize myself with studies re lead availability & accumulation in plants. Mainly focusing now on how to best deal with poor drainage and compacted clay subsoil, amidst surrounding concrete, asphalt, etc.

Many thanks again for your responses.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 10:21AM
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