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Metal scraps in raised beds

 
Tom Wootton
Posts: 9
Location: North Florida near Hart Springs zone 8b
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Our land in north Florida is mostly wooded, and I've found several old trash heaps in the woods filled with rusted metal cans and bottles. From the bottles it's clear that some of these dump sites are 50 years old or more. I read somewhere about putting metal scraps in the bottom of a keyhole garden. I'm thinking of doing a Hugelkultur bed because we have a pretty good pile of logs left over from the clearing we made. The soil is sandy and somewhat acidic (5.5-6). I'm wondering what are the pros and cons are of putting rusted metal in the pile? I sure like the idea of cleaning up the woods without making several trips to the landfill.
 
Mike Underhill
Posts: 53
Location: N. Sac. Valley
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Interesting. I imagine that you might subject the plants (and maybe yourself) to heavy metal toxicity, especially if the cans are from way back when they used more zinc and/or lead.
 
Tom Wootton
Posts: 9
Location: North Florida near Hart Springs zone 8b
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Hadn't thought of that. I can't find anything on zinc, but according to the linked story from 1993, some US cans still had lead seams as recently as 1991. This stuff is so rusted down it's almost unrecognizable, and crumbles to the touch. Now I'm wondering how best to dispose of it.

http://articles.latimes.com/1993-04-29/food/fo-28432_1_blood-lead-levels
 
Emily Brown
Posts: 61
Location: Maine
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Can't it be sold for scrap? Metal prices are good these days and a lot of people make a living off collecting scrap metal. Ask a few neighbors if there is a local scrap metal yard that buys scrap. Or if you really don't want to be bothered with it, list it on craigslist as free scrap metal and the scrappers will be there to pick it up and take it away.
 
Kris Minto
Posts: 137
Location: Ottawa, Canada -- Zone 4b/5a
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I had the same thought as Emily Brown. Depending how much of it you have and the stat it is in, I would sell it for money which can then be put back into your land or project.

Kris
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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rusty metal such as iron will feed the soil but do not put it where you will dig to harvest, best under shrubs and trees..do NOT use aluminum or metal that might have been painted with or might contain lead..

steel and iron are the best, and unpainted..try to not use things with sharp edges where you will dig anything. Metal is really great for pear and apple trees.
 
Tom Wootton
Posts: 9
Location: North Florida near Hart Springs zone 8b
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Thanks for the responses. I was going to put the metal at the bottom of the pile, under the logs. As I mentioned, most of this stuff is almost completely oxidized, so I'm thinking any lead has likely already leeched into the soil of the forest. I'll take any cans that aren't completely rusted to recycle.
 
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