We decided to give up our garden plot at the community garden. It was complicated this year with just the one car and Seth’s farm job, and I can’t imagine that will get any easier as we add a house-building to the list of factors.
However, just as we decided this we came across a new apartment that fits us very well. It’s smaller than our old place (just 2 rooms!) to help in our downsizing process, it’s on a quiet street which is better for my head, it has a backyard for the dog, and — wonder of wonders — it has a garden plot with a landlord who would like us to turn it into something beautiful.
Moving? Bah. Who cares about lifting things when there are plants to grow and soil to amend! I wanted to start digging right away, but had the presence of mind to send out a soil sample to UMass Extension for a routine soil analysis. And it’s a good thing we waited. Our soil results came back with unsafe lead levels. Not extremely high: right around 650 ppm. But high enough for us to have to do some major work on our new garden plot in order to get it into growing shape. We’re talking liming the soil, carting in organic matter, and building raised beds.
If you grow in lead-contaminated soil, some of your plants will take up the lead, particularly leafy greens and herbs, and there’s always a danger of eating the dirt that doesn’t wash off of root crops. Fruiting plants are ok, but tomatoes and peppers are not on my good list here, and I definitely want herbs for my budding herbalism studies. Phooey.
I’ve taken a few days to digest my report. I think the next steps are to confer with the landlord and see what measures she’s comfortable with. No sense in hiring a dump truck to deposit 6 cubic yards of compost if she nixes the idea (although that would be my first choice). And beyond that it’s growing as usual, just in pots instead of in the ground. And, of course, trying to prevent Lily from rolling in the dirt, and then sleeping on Seth’s pillow. She’s good at that.