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Rubbishy soil.

 
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Hairyloon



Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 15293
Location: Today I are mostly being in Yorkshire.
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 15 3:31 pm    Post subject: Rubbishy soil.  Reply with quote    

I've just cleared a section of my garden that I had been avoiding. It was variously full of rubble, litter, scrap metal, litter, twigs, rotten wood and litter. Also a couple of car batteries.
Underneath all that, the soil looks to be quite good, but I am wondering if I should be worried about growing food in it because of contamination... not that anything that I've mentioned gives me any real cause, except perhaps somethihng in the paint on some of the wood.

Any thoughts? Other than sending some off for testing, which is not something I am likely to do.

vegplot



Joined: 19 Apr 2007
Posts: 21298
Location: Ynys Môn
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 15 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Car batteries would give me cause for concern if you're planning on growing veg.

Hairyloon



Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 15293
Location: Today I are mostly being in Yorkshire.
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 15 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

vegplot wrote:
Car batteries would give me cause for concern if you're planning on growing veg.

Why? The lead or the sulphates?
The lead is contained and the sulphates are mostly soluble and will probably have been mostly washed away. The insoluble sulphates should still be in the battery with the lead.

That isn't meant to be dismissive of your point: it was largely the batteriess that led me to wonder, but as indicated, I've decided they're not a worry.

onemanband



Joined: 26 Dec 2010
Posts: 1473
Location: NCA90
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 15 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Re timber and paint, not the batteries
I wouldn't be too concerned - or rather I wouldn't dwell on it. Most urban gardens are probably 'contaminated' with paint from fencing, garden furniture, the house, DIY projects, etc.

I'd top with a few inches of known good soil and you'll have forgotten in a few years (unless your hair starts falling out )

Hairyloon



Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 15293
Location: Today I are mostly being in Yorkshire.
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 15 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

onemanband wrote:
Re timber and paint, not the batteries
I wouldn't be too concerned...

Do I read you correctly there that you are simply not commenting upon the batteries?

onemanband



Joined: 26 Dec 2010
Posts: 1473
Location: NCA90
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 15 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Yes. I can't comment on what's in batteries.

Personally, if they haven't leaked I would not be concerned. If they've leaked then I'd dig it up and replace..........but that's easy for me to say as a professional diggerer, with a tipper truck, that gets paid to dig good soil out of other people's gardens.

Hairyloon



Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 15293
Location: Today I are mostly being in Yorkshire.
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 15 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

onemanband wrote:
Yes. I can't comment on what's in batteries.

Mainly lead and sulphuric acid.
Some of the acid has leaked, but as i said: I think it should be sufficiently diluted by now to be nothing to worry about...
If somebody knows better, do speak up...

Falstaff



Joined: 27 May 2009
Posts: 1014

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 15 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hairyloon wrote:
onemanband wrote:
Yes. I can't comment on what's in batteries.

Mainly lead and sulphuric acid.
Some of the acid has leaked, but as i said: I think it should be sufficiently diluted by now to be nothing to worry about...
If somebody knows better, do speak up...


H2SO4 (weak solution)

If it ain't strong enough to dissolve the carrots you are growing in it, by the time you've washed, peeled, cut and boiled those carrots - it ain't going to be strong enough to dissolve you !


Hairyloon



Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 15293
Location: Today I are mostly being in Yorkshire.
PostPosted: Wed May 13, 15 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Oh, hang on... there will have also been lead sulphate in the solution won't there?

James



Joined: 11 Jan 2006
Posts: 2865
Location: York
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 15 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

lead is surprisingly hard to take up by plants. So even if it is there, it wont move from the roots into the aerial parts of the plant

The risk to you is from root crops: soil particulates taken into the outer layer of spuds, carrots, beets etc...so stick to above ground (fruiting) crops: legumes, curcubits, tomatoes.

I'd perhaps be more concerned by the wood: except for the wax based stuff you can buy now, wood preserver is one of 3 things: creosote (or equivalent tar product), tri-butile tin (TBT), or copper arsenide. All these work by killing microbes & fungi really effectively. Tin and copper are also phyto-toxic. So plants could have problems growing there (question: how was the plant growth? overgrown? or less than elsewhere? this is important).

If in doubt, I'd be tempted to do a sacrificial crop of something like annual rye grass. Then once you've harvested that and taken to a municipal green waste facility, work hard at improving the environment for the soil fungi & bacteria by adding heaps of compost. You'll soon know if there's a problem with lead, tin, copper or arsenic because organic matter wont rot down and worms wont thrive.

If this is the case, use it for ornamentals. If the organic matter rots and worms thrive, use it for food.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 35690
Location: yes
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 15 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

tbt is the one i would worry about ,a catch crop of leafy things (coriander and spinach perhaps) to dig up and dump in a quiet corner might be sufficient to clean most domestic contamination.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 10992

PostPosted: Wed May 27, 15 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

That sounds really sensible James. Useful to have a man like you on the forum.

Hairyloon



Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 15293
Location: Today I are mostly being in Yorkshire.
PostPosted: Wed May 27, 15 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Put that way, I think I might see how the dandelions get on with it this year.

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 5435
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 15 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Some great advice going down in this thread.

My main concern with heavy metals in soil is dirty produce and dirty hands. You are at a greater risk of ingesting lead from the contaminated dirt on the food and on your hands than you are from the plant matter itself. As James said, the higher up the plant you go the less lead will make it through. Contamination will be highest in roots, then stems, then leaves, and finally lowest in fruits. So squash, etc, is fine, just wash it off well.

In terms of phytoremediation (fancy word for growing plants on contaminated soil and then removing them from the site to dispose of said contamination) it can take [i]years and years[\i] of doing that to actually remediate a site. It's very species specific and contaminant specific. With heavy metals the plant matter definitely has to be removed. With organic contaminants the plant and its associated microbes can sometimes do a few good tricks of breaking them down, but sometimes not (sometimes they even make the chemical more dangerous!). Sunflowers are often used.

LynneA



Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 4893
Location: London N21
PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 15 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

What about planting some comfrey?

Their roots will draw the minerals out from even deeper than the dandelions, then discard the foliage.

Know anyone working at a secondary school or uni who could run a chemistry test on the soil for suspect stuff?

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