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phytoremediation - how to use plants to heal the soil

i was recently reading in the local newspaper about the discovery of heavy metals in the soil of our community gardens. well, i'm sure that this is no new reality - yes, this city has relied heavily on industry and yes, there are still quite a few nasty factory plants around. however, i know that this is by no means a unique situation. i have dabbled in reading about bioremediation and phytoremediation, but am not very science-minded. yes, the chemistry, etc makes enough sense to me, but i want to learn more about people's experience of using plants to rehabilitate soil.

i've heard about a lot of phytoremediation projects over the past couple of years. i'm aware that there has been a lot of research done on the subject, particularly in relation to genetically modified plants - i know, we all hate monsanto but some good things do come out of pandora's box on the occasion. however, i also remember hearing something about phytoremediation projects to rehabilitate the soil in new orleans after katrina hit.

DOES ANYBODY OUT THERE KNOW ANYTHING MORE ON THE TOPIC??? OR DO YOU KNOW OF WHERE TO SEEK OUT OTHER INFORMATION??

the presence of heavy metals, etc isn't a common topic for discussion but as people connecting to the land, trying to make the earth a better place, we need to be thinking about this and talking about it. of course, i'm approaching it from a purely selfish point of view because i want to help rehab the soils in the community gardens in my area... but still, folks, let's start talking about what we can't see - just because heavy metals are out of sight does not mean that it should be out of mind!

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http://www.mobot.org/jwcross/phytoremediation/

Pretty fair overview of the subject at the above link. I am a little ambivalent about this myself, as i am scared of the "Pandora's Box' of genetic modification. While i realize that almost all of the plants we use in our daily lives have been bred into their current forms, i am more comfortable with mendeleian genetic alterations than the current cut and paste and pray method used by Monsanto and the ilk.
Trell Johnson said:
http://www.mobot.org/jwcross/phytoremediation/

Pretty fair overview of the subject at the above link. I am a little ambivalent about this myself, as i am scared of the "Pandora's Box' of genetic modification. While i realize that almost all of the plants we use in our daily lives have been bred into their current forms, i am more comfortable with mendeleian genetic alterations than the current cut and paste and pray method used by Monsanto and the ilk.

yes, in full agreement with you - "organic" (for lack of a better word) genetic alterations are much more comfortable in my mind, as well. yes, the cut&paste&pray methodology is disturbing. what's even more upsetting about the whole thing is that there are many plants already running rampant as weeds that rehab soil, it's just that nobody pays them much credit... take nettles, for instance... and dandelions... weeds are really good, helpful things... but people seem to be too concerned about the look of their lawn to care really...
cornell is doing some work, there are a lot of corporations that are doing work on and with bioremediation, guy at usc with the center for sustainable cities... the list goes on. search for phytoremediation on stumbleupon and you'll find some info. youtube, too.

future_reference said:
The EPA has 'citizens' guides' for bioremediation, etc. In the article the EPA keeps referring to "Scientists." What scientists? Whose scientists?

Citizen's Guide to Bioremediation
future_reference said:
The EPA has 'citizens' guides' for bioremediation, etc. In the article the EPA keeps referring to "Scientists." What scientists? Whose scientists?

Citizen's Guide to Bioremediation

http://www.aehs.com/

In short, about 16000 scientists worldwide, engaged in phythoremediation and forensic analysis of damaged ecologies.
Article in the NY Times today about the prevalence of lead in our soil. For Urban Gardeners, Lead is a Concern
We just did a heavy metal cleaning on our bodies, testing before and after. We should have the results in a few weeks . Our old house had dangerously high levels of lead paint on it and the EPA said to cover it with some siding so the paint could not get into the envirnment . I also wondered about all the chemicals used here on this old farm before we got here 30 years ago . I know that water hyacrnths are used to remove toxins from water and clean it . I have heard that planting flowers will remove excess Phosphorus . I think that some of the toxins can be removed my microbes in living soils- sort of like digesting them . We use weeds here in our gardens to build compost. Weeds bring up many minerals from the subsoil and some deep rooted plants like burdock will loosen the soil deeply . I know that Cornell was doing some reasearch with weeds as perrenial crops and bought some of our sunchokes as an experiment .
I too would like to know of plants that would remove certain heavy metals . I will be attending a conference this week and will ask about it :)Sharon
take soil samples... have them annalized for what you think may be contaminating it.... go from there
A useful article about the value of cover crops here:
mama hubbard said:
what's even more upsetting about the whole thing is that there are many plants already running rampant as weeds that rehab soil, it's just that nobody pays them much credit... take nettles, for instance... and dandelions... weeds are really good, helpful things ...
Here's hoping the mentality changes, as nettles and dandelion greens are good foods for people to consume as well. Ten years ago we cooked and served them on crackers at the nearby farmers market, people enjoyed it but perseverance is needed to effect true change (and we had to return to Italy).
I have been doing some research on this as well. chekc out my website:
http://www.annehars.com/Site/Bridge_greeners.html
this is part of a grant I recently proposed to the city. Not a lot of information on the specific research, though.
I have just stated the group the bridge greeners. Perhaps we could share information.
Whoops! I don't know what happened to the link - here it is http://www.seedsofchange.com/enewsletter/issue_46/cover_crops.aspx

Cornelia said:
A useful article about the value of cover crops here:
Paul Stamets is an authority on healing soil with mushrooms, check out at:
http://www.fungi.com/mycotech/mycova.html

my apologies if anyone has already posted this.

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