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Mechanism

Best low heavy metal & pesticide, high nutrient soil

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Any recommendation for a low contaminant ( pesticides, lead, cadmium, etc.) high nutrient soil to grow an herb garden? My wife is interested in starting an herb and spice garden to use home-grown rather than co-op spices... I probably have a couple tablespoons of spice a day not counting the 1-2 extra tablespoons of daily turmeric!

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This is probably a hard question to answer and was wondering, what soils the gardeners among us are using ( and why)?

 

My understanding is that higher nutrient soils produce higher nutrient vegetables, and that contaminated soils ( ESP heavy metals) can yield higher contaminant vegetables.

Edited by Mechanism

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You may be taking way too much turmeric, but that's a tangent.  The best  way to get great garden soil is compost.  If you can't create enough from your own kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, and fall leaves, pick it up from the nearest public compost site.  Mix finished compost in with your soil.  If you can dig some dirt out of some nearby woods, that will work too.  A little rotten wood on the bottom of the garden is also recommended (absorbs nitrogen as it rots, releases it to your plants later on, the fungi in it help plants grow (mycelium).

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Thank you Gordo, appreciate the tip, and will be loooking out for local public compost pile. I was expecting perhaps a source for low heavy metal tested soils - but perhaps local composts are reliable enough that this is not warranted?

 

Agree tumeric on higher side - I gave historical ranges but recently have been been restricting to 1 tbsp per day, which is still in the higher side, for exactly this reason. Rationale for original dose is taking at anti-inflammatory levels with wide margin of safety: "A dose escalation trial in 24 adults found that single oral dosages up to 12 g were safe, and adverse effects, including diarrhea, headache, rash, yellow stool, were not related to dose (7). I"" per http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/curcumin#summary[Linus Pauling Institute summary ]. 1 gram is roughly half a teaspoon.

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Following the tangent, sometimes I eat lots of turmeric as well, maybe over 3 tbs on vegetables but maybe I find no consequences because that's not constant. I wonder whether it might be the source of some postprandial bloating.

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(1) TUMERIC-

McCoy, perhaps to more conservative 8 grams ( 4 teaspoons) of turmeric may help and be worth an N=1 trial - biliary effects (e.g.- spasms) and GERD ( reflux) being more common higher dose effects. Notwithstanding the study above, per https://www.drugs.com/npp/turmeric.html#ref2

-->

"Powdered turmeric root has traditionally been used as a stimulant and carminative at dosages of 0.5 to 3 g/day. Dosages of 3 to 6 g/day have been investigated for protective effects against ulcers. Daily oral doses of curcumin 3,600 mg have been typically used in clinical trials, but dosages of curcumin up to 8 g/day have been used. Higher doses are associated with adverse GI effects."

 

###

 

(2) Help appreciated -

If anyone else has extra tips on low contaminant soils for gardening, we are entering the preparation phase for our first garden -- compost is our default ( thanks Gordo!)

 

Any recommendations at this point for vegetables to grow ( small ~3x5 foot space ) for personally grown healthiful superfoods would also be appreciated

 

We also have a smaller plot to grow a few herbs/spices. The rest we can get from our organic CSA.

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Speaking of heavy metals and soil... and turmeric: just a reminder that ConsumerLab and other testing groups have found heavy metals in many spices, including turmeric. I switched to curcumin supplements for that reason (they may also be contaminated, but likely less so). As a matter of efficient use of my time, I simply avoid anything grown on the Asian continent (the non-island part – Japan I'm not so worried about). I'm missing out on some safe things, but I don't have time to figure out which items are safe and which are not. Heavy metals and other contaminants in China and India, excessive pesticides in the "Stans"...: not worth the risk (or the time needed to micromanage the risk).

 

Oh, to have a plot of land! (With neighbors less irritating than Dean's.)

 

Brian

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I'd expect it to be excellent but VERY hard to justify that price.  It's meant for seed starting not for amending soil.   When it comes to compost, especially when addressing poor quality or contaminated soil, you want a lot of it.   We probably use in excess of a quart of compost per square foot of garden bed yearly just to top dress lightly to maintain well established excellent soil.  It could easily take 10 times as much if starting with bad soil.

 

If you are going to garden to produce significant food you'll want to find free sources of good quality source material appropriate for composting.   Some things we get free locally in unlimited quantities: horse manure, spent brew grain, saw dust, wood chips and expired/spoiled produce.  Leaves and grass clippings are seasonally available.  When possible we go for materials with organic origin.

 

You probably will start small and if you are just growing a few square feet of kale it really won't matter very much how you go about it, but it won't be practical to scale up to a level where the food return on labor is reasonable when using expensive inputs. 

 

What do you think of this as a source of compost ( any objectionable ingredients)?

Edited by Todd Allen

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Hi Brian, what brand curcumin supplement do you use? I love the taste of tumeric so I may just get a subscription to ConsumerLabs or at least see if it is sourced from a non-China, non-India source. Better yet we have gotten tumeric root that we grind ourself into a paste for some dishes though I will need to identify the source and don't know if the ground material can store like the tumeric powder we currently get from Frontier co-op ( another co-op that you can order from). The last would be easiest if it passes though either way for sauces we can grind our own which is clearly best. Great food for thought for thought.

 

Todd, great to hear no objectionable ingredients in our candidate soil. Fortunately for us the upside of only having a small space ( one 3.5 x 7.5 foot plot, and for herbs 1.25 x 3.25 foot plot) -

 

Thinking of growing goji berries if they are not a lot of work since we only seem to be able to get them dried.

 

Any other recs what to grow appreciated - our thoughts are best candidates would be:

 

1) healthy & tasty

2) hard to obtain via CSA / co-op yet

3) easy to grow ( New England, limited time and no green thumb yet for what will be our first garden)

4) does not take up a lot of space

Edited by Mechanism

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We are making good progress on the project and will need to use raised beds.

 

Cedar seems to be low toxicity for the raised garden beds - its major downside is the cost, but it appears to be very durable / long-lasting and I think a good investments unless there are environmental concerns I am not aware of: https://raisedbeds.com/farmstead-raised-garden-bed/?gclid=CJv1-Z7N9NICFZCIswodimQArQ

 

Is anybody using liners?  I searched the archives and it does not appear that polypropylene is an issue?  Would be interested to hear if anyone feels otherwise or has experience with these: https://raisedbeds.com/garden-bed-liners/- according to some sources it appears to be a safer choice as far as I could tell

Sources per http://www.care2.com/greenliving/which-plastics-are-safe.html/ http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/3043487/can-i-use-polyethylene-plastic-sheeting-in-my-vegetable-planter 

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