The Q&A Archives: Is It Ok To Plant Vegetables In A Former Parking Area?

Question: The only place I can grow my vegetable garden is in a former parking area. It was lightly stoned. It hasn't been used for 1.5 years. Will spilled or leaked motor oil and/or fluids/ fuels be harmful to us if we eat the vegetables or will the probable concentrations be small enough to be insignificant?

Answer: In my experience, a spillage of gasoline or oil will prevent plants from growing in that location. It is also possible that other chemicals or materials were spilled or used in that area that would prevent plant growth. For instance, many homeowners will use a long term weed preventer in a graveled area. In addition, the ground beneath the gravel is probably very compacted as a result of the vehicular traffic. For all of these reasons this may not be an ideal spot for a garden. If you have no alternative, you might consider using a raised bed at least 18 inches deep and avoid incorporating the existing soil into it. As one last precaution, I would suggest discussing the problem with your county extension and see if they have any additional suggestions or concerns. Their telephone number is 837-1402.

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