Missmollie23
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Am I Creating a Toxic Garden?

Please excuse any dumb new person faux pas... This is my first post.

I am starting my first vegetable garden this year. I have 4 raised beds with new soil (planters mix from a local landscaping company). The soil underneath seems great but it has decades of trash from previous homeowners.

Anyhow, I may or may not have gotten lost in Pinterest for a few days, and I decided that I needed to add a pretty walkway. Our house was built in 1890 and we had a ton of original brick leftover from renovations. I now have a brick path (complete with my blood, sweat and tears haha). But my brain just decided to kick in and I'm wondering if it's safe to use old brick around a vegetable garden. Or if I have just doomed my vegetables to be ground zero for some teenage mutant ninja turtle incident. Google has not been very helpful. Does anyone know if there are concerns with using reclaimed brick like this? I added a picture of the path when I first started working on it.

Thanks
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applestar
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Re: Am I Creating a Toxic Garden?

I don't have a definitive answer for you, but I suppose it must depend on where the bricks were originally used -- where they up high or near the foundation where presumably there might have been regular pesticide and herbicide use? Were they near or below windows painted with lead paint?

These look very clean -- no mortar, etc. where they cleaned? When were they removed from the original structure and how were they "stored" before you used them. Were they outside in the elements?

If in storage, could they have been subject to indoor pesticide, etc.? If outside, could they have been overgrown with weeds and sprayed with weed killers?
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Missmollie23
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Re: Am I Creating a Toxic Garden?

They are bricks from the structure itself. Mostly interior walls. After we tore them out, they were stacked and left outside in the elements for a few years. We never sprayed them with anything. There is some mortar and some stucco-type material on a few of them, but they are mostly clean.

Ack! I can't imagine tearing them all out after all of that digging. But I don't want to grow a horn or anything either.

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applestar
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Re: Am I Creating a Toxic Garden?

But I think you answered the concerns I posed.

Are there any others I didn't think of? I guess an option might be to take a few sample bricks and have them tested ? I wonder who would test them for you and what you would want them to look for? I suppose heavy metals for one.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Am I Creating a Toxic Garden?

Applestar is giving you the OCD version of considering all the possibilities. Personally I think you are fine.

Bricks are made from clay soil, sand, and lime and/or concrete. Pretty natural. IF anything leaches from them, it might be the lime/ cement. The only thing about that is that it would tend to increase pH, make your soil more alkaline. If you happen to be growing anything in your beds that likes acidic soil, you will have to work harder on acidifying.
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applestar
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Re: Am I Creating a Toxic Garden?

:> sorry if I was overly dramatic. I like to think of all possibilities and weigh the pros and cons. :wink:
(yes I drive MYSELF crazy sometimes and actually tell my brain to stop thinking :roll:)
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Missmollie23
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Re: Am I Creating a Toxic Garden?

Applestar- I appreciate your thought process. That's how my brain works too. I am trying to consider the potential hazards before I feed my family bad veggies. Thanks for the help.

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jal_ut
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Re: Am I Creating a Toxic Garden?

It is my inclination to say: You are just fine. Enjoy!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/- Plant a Garden

imafan26
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Re: Am I Creating a Toxic Garden?

If they have been stacked for years and not sprayed, painted or otherwise contaminated, whatever was on it has had plenty of time to leach out. You probably cleaned the bricks before laying them so unless you cleaned them in something toxic, they should be fine.

If your raised bed is higher than your path, gravity works for you as more things will wash from the bed to the bricks than wick up to the bed from the lower ground.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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GardeningCook
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Re: Am I Creating a Toxic Garden?

I second others here who firmly believe that you'll be just fine. You will NOT be creating a toxic garden. Rest easy. :)
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Missmollie23
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Re: Am I Creating a Toxic Garden?

Thanks for the help! I'm feeling much better about it.

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