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West Preston

>Home >Projects >West Preston> Soil

The soil on the property was tired and worn out, with little life and probably less nutrients. Our first step was to convert an area of grass to garden. The grass was well established Kikuyu. For half of the grassed area we dug out the grass and put it aside to dry and die. The soil was then turned over and bags of manure and potting mix were incorporated into the soil.

The second half of the grassed area was covered with cardboard after a sprinkling of blood and bone and manure.

Lastly on the two remaining beds we added mushroom compost in a thick layer over the soil. We were able to do this after we knocked part of the front fence down and got a 3m3 delivery at the font of the house. Incidentally the established peach tree where the mushroom compost was dumped went from having three peaches the year before to being full of fruit.

All this meant we could and did start growing. However we then saw the ABC Catalyst Show - Lead Astray and decided to get our soil tested for lead through a free program run by Macquarie University called "VegeSafe"

The results came back with some high readings of lead in a number of beds. This was disappointing at a number of levels and also becuase one of the high lead beds included my first serious attempt at "Square Foot Gardening".

It's hard to know where the lead came form because the highest levels of lead were not in the usual areas such as the "drip zone" under the eaves of the house, nor are we near a main road subjected to high levels of car exhausts in the past when they contained lead. I suspect the lead came from the old white paint on the various materials the previous owner had used to make the garden beds, thought it may have come from tip waste some of which is a couple of feet below the surface.

The upshot has been we have decided not to grow vegetables in our own soil and instead use wicking beds and other above ground methods. We have also added a lot of organic matter over all the soil and encouraged ground cover.

Picture showing remnants of straw bale used for growing vege's off contaminated soil and a bit of grey water pipe
Picture showing remnants of straw bale used for growing vege's off contaminated soil and a bit of grey water pipe

>Home >Projects >West Preston> Soil

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