Lead; what can I grow?

drasaid(zone 8)June 9, 2002

You may have seen some of my other whining posts about this problem; but I have LEAD (lots of it) in the soil. Most of my 'lawn' is cement so I will use containers, but can I grow anything in the spots it is not and eat it without fear? Where do heavy metals go in plants? I wanted to plant Asimina Triloba, but not if the lead will go into the fruits. Any of you who know more than me (that should be a large population!) have any ideas?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

did you get your soil tested?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2002 at 3:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
drasaid(zone 8)

I have not bothered to test it because it is a big red area on the EPA maps. They say it is the worst urban area in the country for lead so I just assume it is pretty bad. What with Magazine Street being driven on during about seventy years of lead based gasoline and a big leaded paint factory down Jackson avenue I think it is probable the soil is zapped.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2002 at 4:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Kathy_KY(z6 KY)

What a bummer!!!!! I would still ask your extension office to test it though. Personally, it would drive me nuts wondering how bad/good it is.

I'd also move. May not be an option for you but, sheesh, I'd sure give it some thought.

Sorry, I don't know the answer to your container question.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2002 at 10:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have low to moderate levels of lead in my garden near my house (lead paint chip contamination). I grow only fruiting vegetables like tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, eggplants,and the like, because plants don't deposit much lead in their fruits. At the end of the growing season I put the veggie plants in my lead-contaminated compost pile. I use this compost on my ornamentals. I maintain a separate lead-free compost pile that gets only material that I know is lead-free, and this compost I put on garden.

Plants mainly put lead into their roots and leaves, and some plants so strongly accumulate lead in these structures that they have been used for lead abatement programs. Interesting aside: I grew 2 crops of mustard greens, a plant known to accumulate lead and cadmium in my garden last year, hoping to they would take up a lot of lead. Didn't work, soil levels still the same.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2002 at 11:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Kathy_KY(z6 KY)

Nice try though, Becky!


    Bookmark   June 14, 2002 at 2:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Your cooperative extension service might be able to offer you some suggestions: anything you could do, what plants would be safe, what NOT to do.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2002 at 3:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Perhaps if it's not a big area you could remove some soil and put in some new topsoil instead.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2002 at 5:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
drasaid(zone 8)

This is New Orleans. When it rains it pours; and everything that goes around comes around. I suspect the original reason to concrete the yard was to keep the dirt from blowing about. My sister does not even want containers; she thinks the lead will infect them somehow. The awful truth is that "we all live downstream", those of you saying I should move should realize that one day everyplace will be like this unless present trends change. I'm going to learn to live with it. I already drink Missisippi river water (carefully cleaned) which everyone north of here merrily flushs into. It's better for nature if people learn to live in cities instead of running, running, running to develop yet another pristine area.
Ok, enough complaining. I'm going to go make some hypertufa troughs with faked-out self-watering reservoirs made out of plastic bottles. And I'll use the strip of real dirt that I do have for ornamentals and mulch like mad to keep the dirt down. So there; that's my plan.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2002 at 6:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
carriein(z5 NW. IN)

I read in Maria Rodales book that her property was once the site of a gas station, something she found out after a few years of having a vegetable garden in this particular spot. I think they found out after they did a soil test and then replaced the soil( this was a library book so am trying to remember details). Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2002 at 8:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jajm4(z5 w. mass, usa)

becky-- i wd love to learn more abt the plants used for lead abatement programs-- do you have a link i cd follow? or care to share your info? fwiw someone told me that "gill-over-the-ground" (a weed here, i think is the same as "creeping jenny") used to be used as a medicinal to help remove lead in children. don't know her info source or how well it worked....

    Bookmark   August 15, 2002 at 2:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

jamjm4: I don't have any links, but I found out about using plants to remove lead from soils by searching Google on "bioremediation." But I'm not so keen on it any more. Like I said, I grew 2 whopping crops of mustard greens, one of the premiere lead and cadmium accumulators, and it made absolutely no difference. Maybe it would work if I grew several years' worth of crops, but I don't have the time. So I just grow things that make fruit, and I grow leafy things on temporary raised beds of straw and purchased compost.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2002 at 4:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello! To find out more about plants used to take lead out of the soil check phytoremediation. A company called "Phytotech" was doing some of the original lead uptake work along with Rutgers University. Now the company doing the work is Edenspace out of Virginia. Besides using the selected strain of mustard, they are also adding chelating agent and other things to maximize uptake, it takes a bit more than just growing the plant. Even so, it take a few crops to lower the soil lead levels significantly.
Add a lot of compost to the soil to dilute your lead, and avoid root crops and wash everything else really well. You probably have more danger of eating the soil particles clinging to the plant than by eating lead accumulated inside the plant.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2002 at 7:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Marie_TX(z8 N Houston)

I think the NYTimes Science section of March 8, 2001 had an article about which plants have a filtering action on water. I remember the usual wetlands plants were good but Weeping Willow was especially good for removing and holding chemical pollutants. -- Marie

    Bookmark   October 17, 2002 at 3:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
drasaid(zone 8)

Looks like I'll plant Cannas, Ginger and Pawpaws and the rest in containers. I'm doing edibles that I won't eat because my sister's dogs eat anything! I will eat the Pawpaws, because it looks like they won't take up the lead.
Thank you all-

    Bookmark   October 20, 2002 at 3:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

-Accepted practice is to raise the pH of soils contaminated
with heavy metals such as copper, chromium, cadmium and
lead. Generally this is done by adding lime. The purpose of
this soil treatment is to prevent the metals from leaching
out and contaminating ground water or adjacent surface
water. I think that if you add some lime and grow ornamental plants you will stabilize the soil and prevent
any lead from entering the environment. I don't know if it
would be safe to eat vegetables grown on your soil-that
sounds like a research project.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2002 at 11:24AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
native ecologies
The valley floor of Yosemite, and it's technicolor...
suburban yard - several species in small area
in this pic in my backyard i have papaya, passionflower,...
Compost Water Heated Greenhouse
Just spent a minute modifying my compost water heater...
Volunteer Wanted at Off-Grid B&B in Missouri, USA
I'm in my 6th year of building a sustainable bed &...
Wild Grapes with Black Rot
So, on the margin of my back yard I have some wild,...
Sponsored Products
Orbitor Galvanized 18-Inch Outdoor Pendant with Frosted Glass and White Cord
$252.95 | Bellacor
"Sasha" Scalloped Console - OPEN GRAIN
$2,599.00 | Horchow
Sofab Muse Love Seat
39" Duplo Dinamico Brushed Nickel Dual Ceiling Fan
Lamps Plus
Getting Around Town Pillow Cover
$29.99 | Dot & Bo
9 Wine Bottle Tabletop Holder
The City Farm
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™