Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

January 2018 Harvest:

13 Passionfruit

3kg sweet potato

4 Strawberries

2 Cherry tomatoes

1 red bell chilli

2 small cabbages

OMG the garden is suffering. Infested with fruit fly and crickets! Given up planting anything new for the moment - the zukes and toms went in too late and shouldn't have bothered. 

Went back to sprouts instead :)

Paul the Possum continued to raid the passionfruit vine. We tried putting mothballs to deter (read online) but still no luck...

So I've had some upsetting garden-related news. Got results back from Vegesafe and there is too much lead in my soil! I need to stop tubers and greens but fruits should be ok

Sample ID Soil Location As (mg/kg) Cd (mg/kg) Cr (mg/kg) Cu (mg/kg) Mn (mg/kg) Pb (mg/kg) Ni (mg/kg) Zn (mg/kg)
A Front road west 0 0 21 14 165 919 13 206
B SP Patch near slab 12 0 39 47 159 222 0 461
C Garden bed north 0 0 49 116 435 882 0 1058
D Front TRN north 0 0 24 24 165 507 0 437
E Drip line PM east 0 0 26 18 121 222 11 298
As – arsenic; Cd – cadmium; Cr – chromium; Cu – copper; Mn – manganese; Pb – lead; Ni – nickel; Zn - zinc

A reminder for urban farmers to be careful! We live in an area close to train tracks and commercial zone so can be years of pollutants, lead paint from old houses, old lead petrol cars parked on the lawn etc. Good things I tested first before getting chooks. They wont be able to free roam everywhere but on clean safe areas...

In response, lost my gardening mojo a bit for food, focused on planting more natives for now. Will restart in beds when cooler

Been trying to clean up the yard and annexe more areas for garden beds rather than lawn (hate mowing!!!)

Weeping lillypillies looking happy in their new home. Coffee (out of frame to the left) exponentially happier than in pot!

Pigeon pea looking strong

Choko refuses to go UP ABOVE the shed as I intend but rather prefers to go far and wide. Pawpaw looking fruitful

Another new bed - lemon trees, mulberry and salvia :)

Original bed looking ok - Peach, lime berry, tahitian limes, yam, roses, rosemary, salvia, basil, bits and pieces

Have also put bananas and sunchokes infront of house for privacy :)

New rosemary hedge to be :)

In the January bakehouse:

Sourdough pain au lait

Walnut spelt sourdough

Fruity sourdough

100% Spelt

Galette des Rois to celebrate Epiphany :)

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Comment by Sophie on March 7, 2018 at 10:12

Thanks everyone

Elaine - Pink sprouts are amaranth - cute, aren't they

there is a small creek at the end of our street. We have reason to suspect the neighbouring industrial people (hopefully used to) dump waste and paint there - over the decades. and yes, most houses are qlders with lead paint.
Indeed our neighbour recently did renos and I think that's the flecks of lead that went into one of the garden beds - as it was all 'new' soil. So right on our tomatoes :( 

This testing was through vegesafe. For those interested, the is the advice guide they sent. vegesafe_soil_advice_guide%20%283%29.pdf

Comment by Jeff Kiehne on March 7, 2018 at 6:50

Avgas  is  probably still containing lead  .Contaminated sites would not put any faith with government  and contaminated site  they seem more interested keeping secret  and if you want to check a site have to pay a fee  and it may be toxic but not on there records  or the site near on the register  and has leached onto that site  like down hill of a service station.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 7, 2018 at 1:51

Although we can be talking serious amounts of money and time never mind the sheer physical effort required ... wicking beds would be a way to garden without toxins.

Using potting mixes, composts, vermiculite and coir would (or should) be free of heavy metals.

Adding some microbes and worms and remembering to top up the water reservoirs and recondition the mix between crops, once established they are fairly easy care.

Comment by Dave Riley on March 7, 2018 at 1:11

If you live in a Queenslander chances are that the paint used in its past coats contained lead and would over the years leach into the soil.

Here's an offer from Macquarie University -- VegeSafe --to test your soil if you are concerned: LINK.

If I was living in a long standing Queenslander I wouldn't hesitate to test.

If you have children about even more so. My wife's uncle spent his life intellectually handicapped after licking led paint.

Lead is personal in our family.

It is indeed potent.I understand that children absorb about 50 to 60 per cent of the lead they ingest, whereas adults only absorb about 10 per cent.

'Generally' local councils log the history of any contaminated site  -- and zone it accordingly -- but then look what happened at the Northey Street Farm re asbestos. There have also been major residential disasters in the past with developments built on toxic soils: Willawong and Kingston, for instance.

Today councils are more aggressive re the issue because they know they can be sued if the zoning is wrong or the soil risk unregistered.

If your block had per-existing industrial use it may be worth checking out.

Petrol was unleaded from around 1986/88.

But that's not the end of it.

Lead does not biodegrade, or disappear over time, but remains in soils for thousands of years.

At the school where I garden, any fill used needs to be cleared re toxicity before it can be deployed anywhere in the school. In my area too, naturally occurring acid sulfate soils can lead to toxic acid and metal contamination.

When I see childcare centres built on busy roads--as they so often are, such as replacing old service stations(how often does that happen?)  --  I get anxious.

Thank the gods for wicking beds I guess...

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on March 6, 2018 at 22:43

I actually wonder how many of the rest of us have heavy metals in the soil and just don't realise.  It's kinda scary. 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on March 6, 2018 at 20:54

What are the little pink sprouts?

Would it be possible to bag every Passionfruit - and if so would it stop Paul?

Comment by Susan on March 6, 2018 at 19:35
That is so heartbreaking about the soil. I’m curious though. Why is there a difference in the levels of lead for fruit and veggies? If you go wicking beds they will be totally self contained and separate from the contaminated soil. New plantings look great. I’m hoping with the cooler weather, I can get out and plant some new things


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