We are often made to feel as though we must have the answers for everything and that if we fail to excel in certain aspects of our life, that we are in fact failures. However, the truth is we all have different strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, if we truly wish to thrive, we need to learn how to rely on each others' strengths in order to compensate for our weaknesses. This is a lesson I didn't learn until I had dug myself so deeply into debt that I thought I would never be able to crawl out of the hole. With the help of a financial consultant, I was able to crawl out from under my debt and learn many valuable lessons in the process. It is my hope that this blog will allow me to share those lessons with you.
Lead isn't just a concern inside the home, it can also pose a problem in the garden bed. Lead gets into the soil through a variety of conduits, including lead paint on the exterior of buildings, water leaching from old lead pipes, or from buried construction debris. Older homes are more likely to have high levels of lead in the soil. Fortunately, it is possible to reverse lead damage to the soil so you can grow a successful vegetable garden.
#1: Begin With Testing
The only way to verify whether your soil is contaminated is with a full soil test. Soil testing is carried out by independent laboratories or via county extension offices, and usually requires a small fee. For a successful test, you will need to collect soil core samples from several different areas of your yard. The lab usually provides you with the collection tools and instructions for using them.
Skip the testing kits that you sometimes see at garden stores. These aren't as accurate as lab testing, and they generally aren't meant for detecting lead.
#2: Consult With a Professional
If the soil test comes back showing a high level of lead, it's time to contact a professional environmental remediation specialist to help you develop a plan. The Environmental Protection Agency sets the danger zone for lead at 400 parts per million, but some states consider this too high and have set lower recommended levels. A remediation specialist can help you come up with a plan for making your yard safe for both your family and for gardening by creating a usage plan that involves a combination of sealing off contamination and reversing it.
#3: Create a Soil Plan
High lead levels don't automatically mean that you can garden. Although it may be recommended to lay hardscaping, such as patios, over areas with high levels of contamination, chances are you can save most of the soil for planting.
Lead remediation is usually done by raising the pH of the soil. Soils with a high pH level inhibit the movement of lead, so that plants can't absorb the poison. You raise pH my adding alkaline amendments, such as ground limestone, and by working in organic material. The amount of these materials needed depends on your soil's current pH level and the lead level, but your remediation specialist can advise on what you need to do for the specific levels in your yard.
#4: Look for an Alternative
You don't necessarily have to manage lead levels in the soil if you don't have pets or small children, or if you don't plan to grow edible plants. Lead in the soil is only dangerous if it's eaten. If all you want is a small edible garden, you can grow in raised garden beds or containers filled with outside soil. It's also possible to grow healthy, non-edible ornamentals in soil with high levels of lead.
The final choice on remediation is up to you, but it's still wise to get your soil tested if you suspect lead could be an issue. Knowing the lead level in advance can help you make safer choices down the road when it comes to your landscaping or gardening habits. Contact specialists, such as those from A. G. Wassenaar, Inc., for further assistance.