We have a very small property, and the new fence covers maybe 10 m, and seems to be affecting areas up to about 1.5 m to 2 m away from it. The smaller, herbaceous plants seem much harder hit than the trees and woody shrubs--two apples, a rose, and an ornamental currant appear to be unscathed. The feverfew, runner beans, calendula, comfrey, garlic, nasturtiums, oregano (some of these planted after the new fence, and some already present) look dreadful. In fact, even some of the weeds can't seem to handle it--I've lost some dandelions and the chickweed entirely, though this could be due to its short growing cycle, I admit.
Could it just be the presence of the subsoil that's affecting these plants? Some of the plants affected haven't even been in direct contact with the subsoil, though maybe some rain has washed it nearer them; I would also estimate the subsoil is no deeper than about 6-8 cm, and that is only right up next to the fence. The only other thing is that he's not organic, but the fence between us (now and before) has always been 2 m tall and without gaps, so any herbicide could have only come onto the beds from that subsoil.
Am I right in thinking that the white boards in back of the sorry feverfew is the new fence? Was it treated lumber? Maybe 1.5 to 2 meters is how far substances in the fence boards can travel before they are degraded by soil biota.
I'll wait for you to confirm my guess before I hazard a recommendation on remedial action.
What kind of fence?
Yes, that's the fence behind. It's got what I think are pre-molded concrete panels as a base, and what looks like treated lumber above, though the wood is not touching the earth at all, just the molded base. I don't know exactly what was used as a foundation for these panels, though he had a cement mixer, so I assumed it was just concrete.
Was the fence sprayed in any way ?
I haven't seen my neighbors spray anything on the fence, although I didn't really supervise the construction of it; my husband had already given them permission to be on our garden, so I made myself scarce to keep my blood pressure in check--I couldn't bear to see them trampling over my precious bed!
Matu Collins wrote:What was the area before? Are you in an urban or rural setting? There could be something toxic persistent in the soil that got chucked. Is the neighbor someone who is likely to spray roundup type stuff?
Last year I grew runner beans, nasturtiums, garlic, kale, tomatoes, and more in that bed. This bed was very productive last year, and I also threw on a load of chicken bedding during the winter to make the worms happy, so I was gearing up for another good growing season.
We live in a village, and this neighborhood has been urban/suburban since at least the 1930s.
I honestly don't know if my neighbor uses roundup, but I don't know if his use would be able to contaminate my plants. Unless it persists in subsoil? I don't know.
he had a cement mixer, so I assumed it was just concrete.
Bingo! The lime in the concrete mixture has leached into the soil and shot up the pH to where the plants don't like it. Two solutions: (1-lazy) wait for the rain to leach it out or (2-involving work) dig a trench along the new concrete and backfill it with peat. Or if there is a cheesemaker nearby and you can get some whey, the acidity of the whey will work to neutralize the excess lime, pour that into the trench.
We had a chat with the neighbor, and he said it hasn't affected his garden, though the section which has the worst effect on our side has a patio on his side.
Luckily the larger shrubs and trees have been largely unaffected, and the smaller rosemary and hyssop have been growing well, though they may be partially sheltered from the pH change by the cherry tree between them and the fence. One rose bush right next to the fence lost all its leaves and buds, but has regrown a few leaves now. I was able to save a couple of the worst affected herbaceous plants, and did not lose anything larger than the feverfew--which I have plenty of, as it self seeds prolifically!
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