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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Container Gardening Question?

We received a question from one of our readers about the safety of gardening in containers and which container material is the best, but we don't have answer. Does our audience have any information to share on the topic? Any advice would be much appreciated! See our reader's question below.


I have a very important question and think UCDavis may be the best place to get an answer....
Is it safe to grow vegetables in plastic containers, such as the "plastic" clay colored pots sold at nurseries, and the black gallon or more containers that many plants are sold in? If drinking water from plastic bottles can be dangerous, can this practice be also?
...and how about clay type pots.... how does one know if they contain lead, and if so does in end up in the plants grown in them?
I have been using containers - to grow tomatoes and peppers- for several reasons, mainly to avoid ground critters...but many other folks use them to grow plants on their patios. If using such containers is a heath hazard, it would be kind of you to let us all know.


I wish we had an answer from the UC Davis archives, but I was not able to find one! I am sorry we couldn't be more help! You may want to locate a one of your local Master Gardeners and ask them as well. I know that their are quite a few that read our blog, so stay tuned here too!


Savoir said...

I have tried many different types of containers over the years. Last year I discovered a winner that far surpasses all others by a long shot, and I HIGHLY recommend that you give them a try.

easy to move...promotes healthy root growth... available in many different sizes.. i'm telling you, from 8 years of container gardening outdoors and in greenhouses... these "smartpots" rock my world!

Anonymous said...

As far as I know, no one has ever gotten lead poisoning from using clay pots. You're more likely to give yourself undue stress and an early heart attack, worrying too much about such things ;) Good luck!

Kerry said...

I too LOVE smart pots. I've done some research on pot safety and I think most plastics and ceramics are ok. That said there is some evidence that growing in old tires (popular for potatoes) may not be such a good idea because certain chemicals can leach from the tire over time.

The real hazard that people should be talking about is the lead in PVC garden hoses. A few years ago Consumer Reports did testing that showed that water left in a garden hose can leach up to 100X the acceptable lead levels into the water.

It is stunning to me that there hasn't been more publicity about this.

Here's an article I wrote about this issue:Is Your Garden Hose Safe"

UC Davis Good Life Garden said...

Thanks for your helpful comments and resources. Kerry, that hose article was really informative. Thanks for posting it, in fact, all your articles are! I'm going to link to them from our site!

Estelle said...

Thanks for the tip on SmartPots, I had never heard of them!