I have know her for YEARS & trust her knowledge, people who work for reputable restoration companies continue thier schooling, just like I have to have continued ed in the fitness & the insurance business to keep my licenses. Some of these companies are just "fly by night" or just carpet cleaners who want to get more business, so they become "restoration" businesses. Trust me, since the fire, these businesses have come out of the woodwork. In 20 years of being in the insurance business, I have NEVER heard of this guy. But, he was nice & sounded convincing. But, to have the contaminates go 5 feet deep into the ground? She said possibly the top soil could have some, IF I lived right next to a house that burned. She thinks just turning the soil & getting a good top soil & I should be fine. She agreed, just to be safe check with the extension.
Don't feel foolish. The person who told you all this in the first place apparently was misinformed. Just like all those rumors that are spread online, it's best to check them out. What if what the person had told you was true? It's better to be safe and find out what you are dealing with, if anything. If what they told you HAD been true, then you were doing your best to find out how to grow food safely under these conditions, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! You checked out the information, found alternatives in case it WAS contaminated, and who knows? Maybe someday that information WILL come in handy, in a different situation.
So, I spoke to a lady that works for ServPro & told her what this man told me. She said that is complete garbage! She did say I should go ahead & talk to the extension, but she has NEVER heard such a thing & that maybe, if I lived right next door to a house that had burned, there might be a little contamination, but for the most part, it is highly unlikely! Sheesh, I feel so stupid & gullible!
I had been wondering, before I read Grebjack's post, how the contaminants from the fire would compare with what is on/in commercially grown non-organic food. If it were me, I would still consult your extention agents and have soil testing done. It will give you some idea of what you are dealing with and whether it would be better to go with raised beds or container gardening. You may also be able to find out how long it takes those contaminents to filter out of your soil. Also if you move it would probably be good to have the soil tested there just to see how it is.
Thanks for doing all of that research! I will definately have to talk to the extention & probably, if I don't move before spring, just have containers & have my son & ex build me raised beds, my son has wanted me to do this for a couple of years. Though it is frustrating, it might help with the weed problem I have, too!
Wow, I hadn't thought about that at all, but you sent me off to do some reading. I found some articles in the popular press that talked about nitrates damaging the soil, but several of those same articles named the specific flame retardant called "red slurry" as LC95A, which doesn't contain nitrates. ???
The materials safety data sheet on LC95A sounds pretty innocuous. www.fs.fed.us/rm/fire/retardants/cur re nt/msds/phos/lc95a.pdf A rat had to consume five times its own weight of the flame retardant before it had a 50% chance of death. But there wasn't information on long-term effects. The primary ingredient of the flame retardant is ammonium polyphosphate, which is sold as an agricultural fertilizer. Hardly organic but it sounds like the food in the grocery store may be deliberately contaminated with the same stuff.
I may do some more hunting around to find out if there was something other than the red slurry that was commonly dumped on the fires.
He drew a circle that shut me out-- Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in! -Edwin Markham
The previous responders are correct as far as your county extension offices doing soil tests. However the main purpose of the tests they do are to help gardeners and farmers know what needs to be added to their soil. If you are going to have a soil test, be sure you check to be sure they also test for contaminents that could be left by the fire.
As far as raised beds, check some of the gardener supply places on line, many of them have "corners" for raised beds. They will usually push into the ground then you slip the ends of your boards into them and screw them in place. An easy way to make raised beds. To cut down on the cost of the soil to fill them, there are places you can buy soil in bulk (by the cubic yard, remember there are 27 cubic feet of soil to a cubic yard) If you have the used of a pick up truck you can haul it yourself saving a delivery fee.
I agree that calling your county extension office is a good idea. I don't know for a fact, but depending on WHAT was destroyed by fire in the area, there actually may be little contamination that you have to worry about. Any organic matter that burned, such as trees, wouldn't be contaminating the soil. In fact, wood ash is a good used in organic gardening to help repel pests, and is safe to add to the compost pile or to sprinkle on the soil and dig it in. Your county extension office may be able to do a soil test, and may not charge much. Once you know WHAT harmful substances are now in the soil (if any) and at what concentrations, you will be better able to determine whether or not it is safe to grow your veggies in the ground this season, or if it would be best to wait until next year to allow the organisms in the soil to have time to break down any harmful substances. I think you would have less to worry about regarding fruit trees, as many of the tree roots extend much deeper in the soil than vegetable plants. Soil is a great filter and concentrations of any harmful chemicals will be much lower than at the surface. But again, your county extension office would probably be able to provide you with more information than I can.
I would call your county extension office, state conservation dept. or even a nursery and ask someone local for info. We have so much clay where I live that I only use raised beds; but then you have the expense of building the beds and buying organic soil. You can plant a lot in containers also and there is a lot of info on the web for that. In addition to the raised beds I also have containers and plant everything in them including corn. I even have an apple tree growing in a large pot.
Last summer, as most of you probably heard, here in Colorado Springs there was a bit of a fire (understatement) called the Waldo Canyon Fire. My home is in the area, though thanks to God, alone, my house wasn't affected, at all! Other than a stressful couple of evacuations...won't even GO there. When I mentioned to someone that my house was untouched, he said, "that's what you think, even your dirt is affected!" that got me thinking, did the stuff that was dropped on the fire & the particles from the burnt homes affect my dirt? What about gardening? This man told me I will have to dig about 5 feet deep to get to dirt that isn't contaminated!!! So, now I'm thinking I won't garden this summer, which bugs me, because that is therapy to me & I lost last summer because of the fire, but don't want to loose another one! Any suggestion or knowledge in this area?
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