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Non-organic Soil made Organic?
Posted by: Anonymous User ()
Date: September 30, 2008 07:38PM

Hi everyone. I am a backyard organic gardener. I have just moved to a house that has been using chemicals on this do I transform the soil into safe organic soil to grow my organic fruits & veggies in? Do I have to remove the soil & replace it? Do I have to wait for years to be able to safely grow my own org. food? Thanks!

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Re: Non-organic Soil made Organic?
Posted by: rgh69 ()
Date: October 02, 2008 03:42PM

Try a raised bed garden. Build a frame and then buy organic soil to fill it.
Then you can grow some organic plants until 3 years have passed. 3 Years is the time required to pass without using any prohibited substances. This is according to the "National Organic Program" by the USDA. You can find more on the program at [].

Good luck!

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Re: Non-organic Soil made Organic?
Posted by: Jgunn ()
Date: October 03, 2008 08:00PM

i would definitely go with raised beds ..but hey you could also get the soil tested at your local agricutural rep an see how bad it really is? smiling smiley

i know planting alfalfa is supposed to pull toxins out of the soil .. maybe investigate doing a few cover crops of alfalfa before you dig in .. smiling smiley

also sunflowers are supposed to be very good at this as well ..

wow ! imagine a full yard of blooming sunflowers cleaning up yer yard ... WOW !! =D

of course you would want to dispose of the plants *elsewhere* and not dig them back into your soil afterwards ... but the local birds would prbably really dig the seeds !! smiling smiley

here is a list from wikipedia that shows some plants and what they can *suck up* lol ... id stick with the simpler crops like sunflowers, alfalfa, clover etc ..

From Wiki []

Wikipedia has an entire wiki devoted to phytoremediation, and provides actual tables of remediative plants for removing various toxins, from PCBs to heavy metals and radioactive isotopes. These plants are called hyperaccumulators, and include botanical families like Brassicaceae (mustard and cabbage family), Poaceae (flowering grasses), Fabaceae (legumes), and Asteraceae (asters, daisies and sunflowers) – many of which also attract butterflies, bees and birds, add nitrogen to the soil, and are more attractive than ionized sheets of plastic laid on the soil to "soak up" pollutants, and less destructive than scraping topsoil for disposal elsewhere - a practice that sometimes leads to the spread of the very pollutants one is trying to contain.

...Jodi, the banana eating buddhist

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 10/03/2008 08:08PM by Jgunn.

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Re: Non-organic Soil made Organic?
Posted by: Jgunn ()
Date: October 03, 2008 08:38PM

hmmm here i found another interestign one ... alfalfa performs the lowest in pulling power over all pumpkins the best grinning smiley

Pumpkins become one of the most popular plants this week, with many people carving Jack-o-lanterns in honor of Halloween. But Canadian scientists have another purpose for the orange fruit in mind: cleaning up pollution. According to a recent study, pumpkins can cheaply remove DDT from contaminated soil.

Before it was banned in 1972, DDT was used widely as an insecticide. A type of persistant organic pollutant, its hydrophobic, or water-fearing, characteristics make it difficult to remove from soil. Often large swathes of land must be removed and either buried in a specially designed landfill or burned in a high-temperature incinerator. Ken Reimer of the Royal Military College of Canada and his colleagues studied a number of plant species to determine whether they are viable candidates for DDT phytoremediation (the use of vegetation for treating contaminated soils). The researchers grew zucchini, tall fescue, alfalfa, rye grass and pumpkins in a greenhouse using soil imported from the Canadian Artic that had been treated with DDT. ?The cold temperatures meant that the contamination was virtually identical to the technical grade DDT mixture that had originally been used,? Reimer says. ?We could therefore examine the ability of [the plants] to suck the DDT out of the soil that had been contaminated with DDT for several decades.?

The team reports in the November 15 issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology that pumpkins performed this job the best out of the five species tested. Zucchinis also extracted DDT from the soil well, whereas the rye grass and fescue accumulated the toxin in their roots but did not move the DDT above ground. Alfalfa performed poorly overall, the team reports. "Our research has shown that members of the Cucurbita pepo species, including pumpkins, are particularly effective in this regard," Reimer notes. Using plants to clean contaminated soils is an approach that would work best for smaller sites that do not urgently need to be cleaned up or those in areas that do not have access to more technologically advanced--and more expensive--options.

...Jodi, the banana eating buddhist

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Re: Non-organic Soil made Organic?
Posted by: frances ()
Date: October 14, 2008 05:14PM

The pumpkin idea is great, especially since you can give them to people for use as jack-o'-lanterns, and not for eating, until you feel confident of the safety of the soil.

My father has read and loved this book, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, and he told me that mushrooms are apparently extremely good at drawing toxins from soil... one of the reasons I decided to only buy mushrooms from trusted, organic sources.

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Re: Non-organic Soil made Organic?
Posted by: baltochef ()
Date: October 24, 2008 04:40PM

Raised beds with new soil over top of the infected or polluted soil are only a temporary solution..Unless the raised beds are 24" deep the roots of many plants will extend downwards through the good soil & start pulling nutrients & pollutants from the bad soil..

It sometimes takes as long as 7 years to clean up really polluted soil by continuous cover cropping..And, of course, the cover crops must be disposed of otherwise they will re-infect, or re-pollute the soil if turned back in to decompose..Same problem if the cover crops are used to make compost..

If heavy metals are part of the problem, the ONLY solution is complete removal of the polluted soil to an EPA certified waste dump..A VERY expensive proposition..

I ALWAYS recommend to any serious organic gardener that is purchasing or moving onto a piece of property (no matter how large or small) to get good soil tests done by one of the several reliable testing labs that specialize in certified organic soil testing..If there is ANY doubt in your mind about pollution, then this should be MANDATORY before renting or purchasing..

Do this before moving or purchasing..Any landlord or property seller refusing to allow this before moving in or purchasing should be suspect..The amount of work & money required to rehabilitate polluted land is considerable..It can range from a mild burden to an immense, life-threatening one..

The past 30 years have seen the ground waters of the entire planet become contaminated..Mostly from runoff from farming, industry, forestry, & from consumers pouring every imaginable kind of poison down their toilets & drains..

If growing organic food on your own property in soil that is clean is something that is, or will become, a priority with you; then I might suggest that you will have to adopt an entirely new mindset as regards to the land you own (or rent) & the quality of that land's soil..

Questioning the possible pollution of the soil on a piece of property that someone is contemplating purchasing probably does not even enter the consciousness of 99.99% of new home buyers..It is just not something that people have been trained to think about..As more & more people become more & more conscious about the quality of their food, their soil, & the cleanliness of their everyday lives; questioning whether or not the soil on a piece of property that one is going to rent or purchase is going to become the norm, not the exception..

Good luck in your efforts to clean up the soil in your garden.. May I suggest this link as a possible start for an organic soil test??..



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/24/2008 04:42PM by baltochef.

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