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Plant suggestions for cleaning soil - specifically of motor oil  RSS feed

 
Penny Dumelie
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Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
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I live in Canada in a zone 4 climate with lots of sun and mild-ish winters (by winter standards).

At the end of my yard is a small tool shed with a space on the north side.
The space is framed by a wire fence (neighbors) on the north side, a shed on the south side, and a tall fence (wooden boards) on the west side.
So, mostly just early morning sun hitting this area.

I should mention my soil is not the best. I believe it came from a landfill site (so much garbage in it) and it's very clayish and compacted.
Working on this but it's slow going.

For years, the neighbors have changed their vehicle oil in the alley and much was spilled by the wire fence (and next to my yard! grr).
We have new neighbors now (yay!) but I'm pretty sure that area is all contaminated.
Unfortunately the weeds love it.
I'd like to plant some kind of bushy perennial that will grow up and fill in the area, and possibly clean the soil at the same time.
I'd love suggestions for a low fuss, cold hardy, soil cleaning plant.
 
Robert Kourik
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Sorry Penny, This is way out of my league. It's not easy at all, if possible. I would google "hyperaccumulation motor oil"
 
Penny Dumelie
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Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
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Thanks for the reply and the suggestion, Robert.

A search a while back brought up a pdf link about an oil spill in Nigeria and the clean up afterwards. They listed a number of plants but I doubt any are suitable where I live. Might be worth taking a second look at it though. Maybe there are NA cousins to the plants they list.

Edited to include pdf link mentioned

This is the pdf, in case anyone else is interested.

http://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1188&context=soilsproceedings
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Penny, you might want to consider oyster mushrooms. paul stamets has documented substantial success with oyster mushrooms remediating hydrocarbon contamination
 
Penny Dumelie
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Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
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That is interesting. The location would be good for it.

I have 4 fairy rings in my back yard that come up every year. Oddly they show up when it's dry, not wet. Never see them in the spring when the ground along the south side fence is spongy. I wonder if they clean soil too. I think the whole yard needs perma-fication

Guess I better do some reading on mushrooms.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Penny, as Peter mentioned , you could try Mushrooms. About half way through this TED talk Paul talks about doing just that.

http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world
 
Penny Dumelie
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Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
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Thanks Miles. I'll take a look.
 
Jd Gonzalez
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http://cleantechnica.com/2011/11/30/shrooms-can-clean-oil-tainted-soil/

Shrooms, willow and corn have been used in the past for phytoremediation.
 
Seth Peterson
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Hey penny,
You posted to my seedballs topic, so I thought I'd post to your topic here.

I work with Radical Mycology following the work of paul Stamets and others and so I totally second the other posters who mention fungi. You can also look at the work by tradd cotter and john Todd ecological (phenomenal) to get a good idea of what bioremediation is about, and what it can do.

Another thought is those weeds that are growing in that area. I mean they are there for a reason, they are there to do the work that the soil needs, that is why they are there. That is why God, or Mother Nature, or whoever, put them there. God/nature is a perfect system, that's why, in permaculture we have faith in what we observe the natural system is doing. What kind of weeds are they? Weeds are amazing, the same weeds that remediated my damaged urban soil, are also medicinals that help protect my body from the toxins and the cancer, etc. that is ever more prevalent.



She who can harness the power of the weeds, in her garden, is truly unstoppable,


Seth Peterson

permaculture chef
 
Penny Dumelie
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Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
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Thanks Seth

Some of them are thistle, which I'm mildly excited about. I just found out they are edible. I figure I'll try them - not the ones growing in the contaminated spot but in other areas of the yard. Hopefully I'll like them and then due to Murphy's Law, they will stop growing. Either I'll have a food I like or no thistle.

Some is amaranth (the kind nicknamed fireweed with the dark red heads made of 1000's of seeds), and then a bunch of prairie weeds that I have no name for.
I think Amaranth might be a cleaner because I often see it growing next to cattails.

Oh I also have bindweed and dandelions. I dont mind either.

Can I pick the mushrooms that come up and shake the spores out all over to encourage them to spread? I really know nothing about mushrooms. So much to learn and not enough time to know everything.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Easiest way to spread mushrooms is to simply harvest some and put them in a blender with purified water, whirr them up and pour on the area you want to inoculate.
 
Maureen Atsali
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I've heard that mustards and sunflowers are good at cleaning up polluted soil... not sure how well mustards would do in your climate though.
Love this info on mushrooms. Thanks!
 
Landon Sunrich
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I know field horsetail accumulates heavy metals like gold and lead. I often see it growing in ditches by the road, so It will thrive in wet oily areas. Same can be said for cattails.
 
Marianne West
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Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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i have been thinking about the same topic in a different context. I have a bunch of water coming from the street I am utilizing and want to do it as safely as possible. I have the catchment ditch heavily mulched, innoculated with mushrooms and have been thinking of adding biochar to this as well - kind of create a filter for the water to go through while is sinks in. Also thought of sprinkling zeolite into the ditch. You might want to add those 2 things to your soil in that area.
 
Consider Paul's rocket stove mass heater.
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