Full Member
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:54 am
Location: Cascade foothills

What do you really know about your soil history?

I'm a geologist by trade and work at an environmental consulting firm; our main business is doing characterization and cleanups of contaminated properties of all sorts - gas stations, dry cleaners, residential properties, old farms, etc. Most people are very surprised at what businesses "cause" contamination in our soil and groundwater and it's definitely true that most people I've talked to on the street and asking what we're doing don't think about soil/water contamination in general, much less its potential impact on their lives or properties.

It is unfortunately becoming more apparent that even residences that may not at first glance appear to have any contamination sources have high levels of things like lead, arsenic, and petroleum products/constituents from car exhaust, heating oil tanks, or being downwind of things like historic orchards, paper mills, coal mills, or metal foundries. Scary stuff.
Gardening east of Seattle in the Cascade foothills

User avatar
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3539
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:10 pm
Location: ID/Wa! border

I had the soil tested around the house a year ago. Of course, there was lead - this house is over 100 years old. Siding went on about 10 years ago. I don't know if that was a good thing, or not. Plastic was put down all around the house and that was covered with a bark mulch.

When we first moved here 15 years ago, the house had just lost its owners who lived here for nearly 60 years. The gentleman had died and his wife moved to a nursing home. The house was renovated after this and then put on the market.

That spring, I dug up the garden. There was a huge glob of paint buried in there. It was still quite elastic so I assume it was latex and dumped there after the renovation by one of the workers - thanks a lot!

For a good number of years, I have had a backyard flock of laying hens. They were let out when we were out there to keep track of them - never more than 4 - on a nice day. Before I had the lead tester come in, a thought occurred to me. I did a little searching on the internet and came up with this report of a [url=]study done on eggs from laying hens exposed to paint chips (click).[/url]

I notice in the linked newspaper article that the property owner also has chickens. Not good to let them out on their own - my hens now have a movable pen so they can enjoy the lawn but can't get near the house or the mulch that surrounds it.

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

User avatar
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1102
Joined: Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:01 pm
Location: Chesterfield, Va

Scary thought! I may have to get more extensive testing done on my soil! Although one thing that makes me feel better is that, as luck would have it, my house it up hill from everyone else's in the neighborhood. So no matter what irresponsible things other people are putting on their lawns. I don't have to worry about the rain washing it down onto my yard. Although I have a feeling someone may prove me wrong withing a matter of hours lol.

USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32.

Failure is only a fact when you give up.

Green Thumb
Posts: 331
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Cincinnati

I really don't care! I grow veggies to eat, love them, and if I only live to be 65 instead of 95, so what! No way am I about to quit growing stuff because my backyard may be not ideal.

We never expected to live to be 30 - I've exceeded that by 2.5 decades.

Life is what it is.

Your expectations and hopes may be different!


Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”