Friday, May 14, 2010

What's in my soil?

Sheesh! I guess ignorance really is bliss. I was innocently thinking I was growing the healthiest vegetables I can-organic all the way, raised beds made with untreated cedar- when I stumbled upon this article:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/DG2543.html

Great! Something new to worry about ! The possibility of lead in my soil got me thinking...what other contaminants could be in my soil?

I did a search.."lead in halifax soil" and came across this guide:

http://www.ecologyaction.ca/files/images/file/Food/urbansoilguide.pdf

So it would seem according to this document, I'm probably ok...raised beds, amended with compost, etc.

To analyze my garden plot, I'd have to say it is unknown as to what I've got there. I have never used pesticides on my lawn, but I’m unsure about the previous owners of my house. Would pesticides stay in the soil after 14 years? My old neighbour used to use a spray on dandelions- even after the pesticide ban - a practice that really made me cringe. Thankfully, it's been a couple of years since that neighbour has moved on and my new neighbour hasn't seemed to be following in their footsteps (their lawn is full of dandelions like mine and like me don't seem to be bothered by it. :)

Another suspect: railroad ties found on the side of my yard bordering my other neighbour.

Treated with something called Creosote (I think).  Nasty sounding stuff.  One thing I know is that in the time I have been here, they have shown no signs of decay, which is a little scary.  They have always been there, even before I moved in so I'm not sure who they 'belong' to officially or what their purpose is.  Probably a means of marking the boundary of the property line. I've tried to locate the vegetable garden as far as possible from this area, however the backyard is small so there really isn't that far to go.

Here is a useful link of information about the risks of treated railroad ties:

http://waterquality.montana.edu/docs/wqfaqarchives/wq_faq_3.shtml

Oh well. I've decided not to think about this too much right now. I'll revisit this concern next year.  I’ve amended my beds with approx 1 foot of new soil. They are deep beds, lined with a couple layers of newsprint and cardboard, so hopefully will be protected from anything leaching in for the time being. Next year, I'll give it some thought. Maybe even a soil test.  Ah, the joys of small space urban gardens!

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