Grantee Blog

Can an Organic Garden be Grown on Asphalt?

Asphalt is, after all, a product that contains oil. Also known as bitumen, it is a semi-solid form of petroleum. Organic gardening and petroleum products are incompatible.

This was the dilemma facing West Orange’s Redwood School, an elementary school whose school garden location was problematic. The garden, located in a center courtyard, did not receive enough sun. Another enclosed location was available for the garden, however, but it was covered with asphalt.

After researching the issue, which included calling experts and consulting other school garden directors, raised beds were found to be the solution. The beds, which are made of cedar, have a 3/4-inch plywood base, thus preventing the organic garden soil from touching the asphalt.

Among the consulting experts who helped the school with advice was Epic Tomatoes author Craig LeHoullier. Craig pointed out that many summer garden plants love the heat, namely peppers and eggplant. Roots of tomatoes, he said, also love the heat.

Craig pointed out that drainage was a potential problem, but the garden directors plan to install a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation systems are known for conserving water, due to the fact that the water reaches the plants slowly. Furthermore, coir will be added to the soil, so water will be retained.


About the Grantee

Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges-West Orange

Redwood Elementary is located in the northern section of West Orange.