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Old 05-14-2009, 06:40 AM   #1
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Default Lead Is A Concern for Urban Gardens

The New York Times has an article today in the Home section(pg D1) The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia (Todays Paper May 14 then Home Section) on the possible high levels of lead in urban gardens."Lead Is a Concern for Urban Gardens"
Soils must be tested before vegetable/herb gardens are planted.

Some crops don't accumulate lead, particularly fruiting crops like tomatoes,eggplant, corn and beans.

Some experts advise planting greens for a few seasons and disposing of the greens as a toxic substance before planting the garden.

Raising the soil PH to 7 with lime and compost is also suggested, as are raised beds lined with landscape cloth.
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Old 05-14-2009, 07:37 AM   #2
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This is all I could get from the Home and Garden section-
Quote:
Lead Is a Concern for Urban Gardens
By KATE MURPHY

Experts worry that the increasing popularity of gardening, particularly in cities, will put more people at risk for lead poisoning.
I don't subscribe which is the problem.

Lead is a major cause for concern for so many reasons. It's good that you suggested raised beds as a possible solution. I think raised beds would work quite nicely. Growing and disposing of greens before using a lead contaminated area sounds like a great idea however my concern would be how many people would really do it and have their soil re-tested?
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Old 05-14-2009, 09:40 AM   #3
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Here in Chicago this is a big problem. The extension service advises the use of raised beds or the earth boxes which are very popular,for growing food.
Lead is a real problem for root vegetables, leafy greens and stems (celery,pak choy,rubarb,etc). The lead does not make it to the fruiting segment of vegetables like tomatoes ,beans,squash.
Anything grown to diminish the lead content must be disposed of , lead remains in compost and is returned to the soil.
Researchers have used collard greens and switch grass to best take up the lead but it takes many growing seasons and lots of plants. They were able to burn the dried plant material in a contained incinerator and extract the lead.

If I remember correctly lots of decaying organic material in the soil helps minimize uptake of the lead into the plants.

Great picture of urban farm here...
http://www.insideurbangreen.org/2009...ason-two-.html

At Inside urban green which has many great ideas for those with contaminated soil issues.
http://www.insideurbangreen.org/
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:14 AM   #4
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Quote:
“It isn’t that you shouldn’t garden if you find lead in the soil, you just have to manage the space,” said Edie Stone, executive director of GreenThumb, a division of the New York City Parks and Recreation Department that supports urban gardening. “You can’t assume what you buy at the grocery store is any safer.” Peanuts anyone?
I don't want to think about that particular 800 pound gorrilla,too depressing.
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Old 05-14-2009, 01:21 PM   #5
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What the main source of the lead, do they say (not a subscriber either)?
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Old 05-14-2009, 01:43 PM   #6
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Causes of lead in urban soils are many. Even dust from heavily contaminated soils must be washed away carefully. If not gardening turf actually stops the dust problem. So does a good layer of mulch.

Quote:
Since 2003, hazardous amounts of lead have been documented in backyard and community gardens in New York as well as in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Washington. Lead-laden soil has been found not only in inner city neighborhoods but also suburban areas.
Excessive lead in soil is the legacy not only of lead paint but also of leaded gasoline, lead plumbing and lead arsenate pesticides. Although these products were outlawed decades ago, their remnants linger in the environment. Lead batteries and automotive parts, particularly wheel balancing weights, are still widely used and are sources of soil contamination.
Soil is likely to contain high levels of lead if it is near any structure built before 1978, when lead-based paint was taken off the market, or if a building of that vintage was ever demolished on the site. Pesticides containing lead were often used on fruit trees, so land close to old orchards is also of concern. And beware of soil around heavily trafficked roadways; it, too, is probably laced with lead. But environmental engineers and soil experts said any place is potentially tainted.
There was a skeet shooting range on the lakefront when I was a child. It closed years ago but it seems the accumulation of shot just off the shore was a lead hazard that had to be dealt with at one point.
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Old 05-15-2009, 10:38 AM   #7
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Here are a couple of links to university webpages about lead in garden soils.

Lead in the Home Garden and Urban Soil Environment
Gardening Resources, Cornell University

And the blog of the gardener sited in the NY Times article above, by will-o-wisp
New York City Garden
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