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"Bad" soil

 
Bryan John
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Hi all,

This summer a major project of mine was clearing some serious overgrowth in my backyard. I wanted to expand my yard so I could grow some more food producing crops namely some more fruit trees and berry bushes. In clearing the land, I continuously ran into trash. Ranging from anything like rope, tires, plastic bags, construction signs, various metal fence/posts, to even stacks of plastic candy wrappers and gatorade bottles. I filled about 9 bags of trash from trash that was buried. I kept digging because I was concerned about what was under the land. I removed a lot of fill (bricks and broken cinder blocks) and removed a lot of trash. I feel like if i keep digging, I'll keep coming into more and more trash. My question for you guys is what do I do to remedy the land? Just bring in fill? Dig more up? Call it a day and start planting? Take some time to revitalize the land with compost/cover crop/manure etc? Any advice is appreciated.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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I have an urban lot, the soil of which is filled with rubble and debris from the house that stood on it.
Instead of removing the house they seem to have collapsed it into the basement.
I have decided to build up the soil with amendments and grow any root or leaf crops in two feet deep raised beds.
My concern is with toxins getting into the food, and avoiding breaking my back digging up rocks.
 
Bryan John
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The possible toxins concern me as well. I almost can picture them 30 years ago pouring out excess gallons of lead paint into the space. The house was built in the early 1800's, so who knows what has been buried!!! What's your thoughts on panting fruit trees there?
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1221
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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My understanding is that the heavy metals will not be in fruits but will be found in leaves and roots.
I am building my grove one tree at a time. The trees will be interspersed with raised beds. Two feet of fresh soil is enough to keep most plants away from the possibly tainted soil.
I will be using leaves and dung for soil building. Wood chips have proven hard to come by.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Thoughts that come to mind. Might be worth having that dirt tested for contaminants. Might want to introduce a truckload of wood chips and a bunch of mushrooms. Great remediators. Accumulate heavy metals. Don't eat the mushrooms if you are concerned about the soil. I hate to say send them off to the landfill because it just passes the problem along, but....just send them off to the landfill. Probably less harmful than most stuff in the trash.
 
Marianne Cicala
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Location: south central VA 7B
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bee books forest garden fungi solar trees
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Hi Bryan. I've come across many antique homes where for decades (probably centuries) trash was buried and many construction workers just dump their garbage and cover it up. If you are concerned about toxins like lead paint or even asbestos have the soil tested. Although many toxins are not found in the fruit others may be and tap roots go deep. I'd certainly cover crop and without a doubt, mushrooms detoxify an incredible amount of things. Never any harm in pulling plugs from several sites and testing; I'd first want to know what I was dealing with before I came up with a plan to remedy.
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