Hi everyone, new member here.
I live in a place that used to be full of orchards. Conventional farming depleted the soil until it was no longer viable to continue. As usual, people tried to regroup their money by building houses. I bought a home with a small yard, and I am trying to reclaim the soil so that I can grow my own fruit and vegetables organically--not an easy task.
My home is wood frame with vinyl siding, cement foundation. The yard has a wood fence that is in a cement foundation, and the wood may be impregnated with arsnic to prevent weathering and bug infestation. for sure, the wood is stained or painted. So my question is as follows:
Do the chemicals in the building materials leach into the soil when it rains? If they do, are they absorbed by my* plants and then, when I eat them, by me? This is important because I give a lot of my crops away and I need to be able to tell people if they are organic or not.
Thanking you in advance for any information you can provide, and for any suggestions you might have.
Health and good bounty to us all,
Congratulations on your new home.* The only way to tell for certain what is leaching out into the soil would be to have a soil test done.* Your local extension service would be a good place for that.* You will want to know not just what nutrients are misssing from the soil but what toxins are in it.
As far as the wood fence, I would suspect it's not preserved with arsenic.* You could always call the builder and ask them if they know what type of preservative was used or where they purchased the wood.
The greatest concern I could think of would be leaching of lime with a cement foundation which could make the soil more alkaline.* Most plants (including fruits and veggies) prefer a pH of neutral to slightly acid.* I wouldn't think you would have fruit or veggies planted against the foundation, but if you do, I would test the pH of the soil.
The best thing you can do for your soil is to add lots and lots of compost and mix it in.* The compost will help add good microbes, improve the tilth (texture) and improve drainage, etc.
Thank you Newt!
Are you on staff here at the back yard gardener?
Ah, the wonderful resources of the great United States! I'm in Israel, and unfortunately, resources for organic gardineing are not so advanced so there really is no one to call about these things. I know that a good deal of the wood was treated (it's called impregnatzia here) and the treatment isn't so much for preservation as it is to protect it from termites and the like.
Am I to understand that you don't think that the paint or stain on the wood is a problem? Ditto the vinyl siding?
You're right, I won't be planting right up against the foundation, but I would like to plant close by. I'll try to see if there is a local version of the extension service you mentioned. The leaching of lime might explain why a lot of my plants are dying. After three years of organic (non agressive) treatment, I finally saw an earth worm the other day! Guess it's time for a more agressive approach.
I also have a mango tree--so called because each year, it gives us a mango. :D
I'll be on vacation during the month of October, and will start a compost pile then. Meanwhile, any other thoughts or advice you (or anyone else) might have would be greatly appreciated--regarding organic gardening, I'm quite lonely out* here!
Joanna, you are so very welcome!* I'm not on staff here.* I'm just an avid gardener who is passionate about the environment.* I will say that Backyardgardener has been very generous to me for helping out.**:D
I'm sorry I didn't notice your location.* I thought I'd looked and apparently I didn't notice your location.* :?
I did a google search with the term:
Israel + pressure treated wood
Israel + preservative treated wood
and was unable to find out what is used where you are.* Please try and repeat my search and see what kind of info you find locally. It would probably be best to use the word 'impregnatzia'. I did that but couldn't get any hits.* Google asked if I meant:
Israel + impregnated + wood
and I clicked on that.* I got 144,000 hits.
If you don't understand what you are reading (many folks don't), I will be happy to read it and see what I can do to help as long as it's in English.*** :)
From what I'm reading, heavy metals and toxic substances travel through sandy soils more quickly and therefore can get into the water supply more quickly as well. The longer the treated substance has been exposed to water and air, the less toxins remain to be leached out over time.* But I haven't been able to find info on how far away from structures the soil remains contaminated and how long it takes for the substances to leach out.* You can read from #2 - Literature and background information here.* Read especially 2.1, 2.1 and 4.1 here.
Is there any way you can find a label on the wood or contact the builder to get info on just what is in the wood?
I have no clue what is used in the paints where you are so it would be difficult to say anything about how toxic it is.* I would think that paint rated for outdoor use wouldn't bleed and shouldn't be a problem.* Most of the problems with paint are the off gasing of fumes.* As to the vinyl siding, the big problem with pollution for that is in the manufacture process and disposal that causes problems.* Vinyl is a petroleum based product.
There's lots of info on organic gardening on the internet and at this site as well.* Just click on the links on the left for compost and organic garden.* I have loads of links too.* I would also suggest you start your compost pile right away instead of waiting.* It can start to decompose while you are away.* If you need info on organics or how to compost don't hesitate to ask.* Sounds like you've done quite a bit of research already.
I got a giggle out of your mango tree with one fruit.* :) * I just love mangos!** They prefer a pH of slightly acid but they do tolerate slightly alkaline soil.* Maybe this will help.
I was almost born in Israel.* My mother was pregnant with me when my parents were to leave, but at the last minute my father decided he didn't want to move there.* I had a cousin who lived there for a couple of years, but when she was faced with going into the army, she came back to the US.