I'm starting to put together my new garden to-do list, and the more I think about next steps, the more worried I'm getting that my soil is completely contaminated by lead.
Our house was built in 1939, long before lead paint was outlawed in 1978. And even though the soil in this neighborhood is said to be great because of its proximity to a silty, nutrient-rich pond, the land was a farm until it was developed in the late '30s. Lead was used in pesticides in those days, and it survives in the environment a long time.
The latter issue is probably not legit, because 70 years of erosion and lawn and garden maintenance make it unlikely that I would be digging in pre-WWII soil.
But lead paint likely still lives under the current outer layer of housepaint, and flecks of it might easily have leached their way through my yard.
I'll be reading more about lead in the coming weeks until my soil thaws enough for me to send it out for testing (speaking of reading, start here for a great NY Times overview of how lead is a dark cloud over the healthy trend of edible home gardens). But meantime, here are 3 reasons I'm not completely panicked about the prospect of lead in the soil:
1. I can grow my vegetable garden in elevated beds with landscape fabric on the bottom and fresh, clean soil on top.
2. Fruit trees, which I fall asleep each night dreaming of, do not significantly absorb lead. It's your root vegetables and leafy greens that are easily contaminated.
3. There are ways to leach out lead by adding lime and compost or growing a leafy green that will suck up the lead (and then become toxic waste). The former, reported the Times, is what the White House garden did to battle their lead problem. Because that house, too, was built before 1978.
Any success stories out there? Have you successfully battled back heavy metals from your garden?
Have you signed up for my feed yet? It's easy - just click here!