There seem to be a trend towards private green spaces in Ottawa urban centers. However, lead from old paint and leaded gasoline has contaminated some of the soil in Ottawa. Unfortunately, there’s no simple way to get the lead out. Nevertheless, we have come with the following steps to help you along the way.
1) Start Fresh. For edibles, buy new soil. Put landscape fabric between new and old soil to stop roots from growing through.
2) Add organic matter. Organic matter like compost and mulch forms strong bonds with lead, making it harder for edibles to soak up.
3) Use raised beds as they will serve as an excellent barrier between your new soil/edibles and away from contamination.
4) Grow your plants in containers but build them with untreated wood or natural stone. Similarly, avoid tires and pressure treated wood.
5) Mulching the new soil will help reduce contamination from the air and also reduced annoying weeds.
6) Install landscape fabric below play areas to keep children safe. More importantly, make sure the younger don’t eat the soil.
7) Always wash your hands and wear garden gloves to avoid picking up from the ground or in the soil.
8) Ensure that the soil is left in the garden where it belongs. Keep muddy shoes and dirty gardening clothes out of the house and away from the kitchen.
9) Remember to wash and peel produce before consumption. Also keep in mind that, unlike fruits; root vegetables, leafy greens, and herbs are the most likely to get contaminated.
10) Test your soil. The link below should take you to a list of Accredited Soil Testing Laboratories in Ontario. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/resource/soillabs.htm