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March 19, 2013


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I think you did show us the neighbors' house. And yes, you're correct. That's just not right.
As far as the tainted earth issue, I would totally make myself just that crazy if it were my vegetable patch. I think it's probably okay, but I could also see where you might want to scrape off the top few inches of soil and replace it with some compost from the garden center. Vinyl is nasty. But even if it's all fine, you do have the broken glass to contend with, so it would possibly be for the best anyhow?
So glad your house wasn't damaged, and your neighbors are weathering this well. Life is hard. God is good.

Wow, that is really sad and I'm glad to hear that they are dealing with it so well. I'll say a prayer for sure.

As for your garden: can you build a raised bed, maybe lined in thick plastic, and put in new soil on top?

I'm reading that the vinyl gives off a pair of horrible immediately toxic gases as it burns. The first one contains a lot of chlorine. That doesn't sound like a longterm issue. The second one is dioxin which can get into soil but doesn't break down quickly. Wiki says that plants only take up small amounts of dioxins but warns of bioaccumulation in cattle.

You might ask about having your garden soil tested by the agency you called. Think about what you might want to do if the results of your query are poor. Would you want to dig up and replace your garden soil? Or would no remediation satisfy you? You can always get your veggies from somebody else at least for a few seasons and use the gardening time on other pursuits.

Finally sunflowers are great at pulling heavy metals contamination (lead, radioactive isotopes for example) out of soil. Maybe you would like to host a sunflower crop and retest in a year. I wasn't able to tell if they work on dioxin so maybe that's a question you can ask in your call.

I'm very sorry for the stress this is causing you.

If it's truly a concern, have those boys scouts of yours build you a(nother? do I see one in your photo?) raised bed. You can put a liner in the bottom to prevent leeching from the contaminated ground. Buy some black dirt and fill it in. It might be more of an investment and you probably won't be able to plant potatoes or anything else that's got long roots, but it should save you the bulk of the worry about toxins. When's the last time you did a soil test? Those never hurt.

Don't know what to tell you about the asparagus.

This is so apples to oranges. But I'll share anyway. I lived in Downtown Manhattan in 2001. We were told the air quality was fine, don't panic, etc. Then we were added to a health monitoring system that sends me a letter every year to make sure I haven't moved. Five or six years after everything happened, the news came out that the air in my neighborhood after September 11th was the most toxic air on record, anywhere.
I am healthy now but I blew my nose liked we'd been sitting around a campfire for weeks afterwards. I would give the compost to the flowers and perhaps bring in a layer of mulch for your garden plot. I think frozen soil isn't going to absorb too many airborne carcinogens in that short of time, but it might make you feel better to make sure that most of the nutrients are being derived from a new source.

You could probably have the compost and/or soil tested. I think. I'm not sure how expensive that would be, though. Some of the stuff we send for testing is like $25, but some of it is in the hundreds. I think the extension office should be able to help with that.

I join the chorus of people advocating for testing. I don't think raised beds with solve much (because we have raised beds, and the roots go DEEP) but I like the sunflowers/year of rest possibility.

I haven't had the time/energy to garden in a few years so my opinion should be discounted accordingly but I would just WORRY too much to make it worth planting food there this year. Maybe you could plant flowers for cutting and take them to someone who likes flowers on a weekly basis as an offering? I don't know....

Hmm, it may not be so bad as it looks.


oh dear, these are very valid concerns!

On the day my firstborn turned 5 months the houses across the parking lot from our home, in a townhouse community of 70+ houses caught fire, burning 12 units to the ground and damaging three others (there was NO FIREWALL in the attic! the addition of firewall cost us 5k in the next year).

I saw very little of it because as soon as the fire started and smoke was blowing, I put all our photo albums in a suitcase (which I left with my husband in case he needed to flee) and a friend came pick me and the baby up. I didn't want him to breathe any of the smoke.

It was AWFUL to behold the charred remains of those townhouses for the better part of that next year. :( I didn't take photos because I thought it was too depressing and it would violate those people's privacy. I tried to google them just now, but back in 2002 I guess news outlets weren't posting that many photos online. This post brought a lot of memories.

I hope you can find out about the soil soon.

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