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Thread: coal clay soil ??? bit stuck need some help if possible

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    4390evans's Avatar
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    Default coal clay soil ??? bit stuck need some help if possible

    Hey everyone Im new on here.

    My name is jen and I moved into a house with a massive over grown garden, over the past 3 year ive been busy just doing the basics taking the gravel up continuously taking out weeds and making the grass wider for the kids Ive added some pics below. So what im wondering is is it safe to grow fruit and veg where there is coal and clay in the ground? We live in a old mining village so its rife we are in the middle of digging out a tree where we are going to put certain veg and there is loads of coal, Ill prob go through and sift it all before I plant anything but Im wondering would coal remnants be harmful xx



    This is when we first moved in
    Attachment 35468

    This is after a year of work then a year of not toughing it as I was preg and couldnt do anything
    Attachment 35469

    This was took a few days ago but it has changed since as ive widened the grass
    Attachment 35470

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    Hello jen and welcome! I can't help you with your coal question - just wanted to say Hello!!
    It would help us if you put your approximate location onto your profile - as mine says South Wales.
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    yep no probs ill have a look about see how I do that, nice meeting you x
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    Go to Settings / My Profile - You'll find it on the left
    Its just because advice/weather in the south differs so much from the north - and we have a number of overseas members too
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    fab I think its saved in the profile now. Its been quite sunny up here for a while but you know what british weather is like very hit and miss, although Im out there in the garden come rain or shine x

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4390evans View Post
    So what im wondering is is it safe to grow fruit and veg where there is coal and clay in the ground? ...... Im wondering would coal remnants be harmful
    The clay is fine. I guess you aren't talking about either a slag heap or a former coal storage site, but rather a soil with various sized bits of coal in it? If this is the case, then growing fruit and veg shouldn't be a problem.

    The potential dangers from sites contaminated with 'coal ash' and other mining/industrial residues are primarily the heavy metal elements left in the soil, notably lead, cadmium and mercury, plus arsenic. These elements can all be absorbed by plant roots. Hence, where their concentrations in the soil are very high, you can potentially get higher than advised safe levels accumulating in plants. However, although unburnt lumps of coal do contain these elements, they are, by definition, going to be present at much lower concentrations. Further, because they are inside lumps (which don't dissolve in the soil very quickly!) they are not significantly available for uptake by plant roots.

    So, If it were me, I wouldn't worry about toxicity here.

    Two further points to lessen any worries:-
    1) Your diet almost certainly won't mainly consist of food grown on this site.
    2) For many of the heavy metal elements (e.g. lead), most of what is absorbed by plants remains in the roots and is not transported up (translocated) to the shoots. This means that leafy crops and fruits will contain lower levels of the metals than root crops. So, if you were still really, really worried (unjustifiably so), then don't grow root crops like carrots and parsnips.

    These days, I'm pretty sure that former industrial sites have to be tested for contamination with toxic levels of metals and cleaned up before houses are built on them.
    Last edited by boundtothesoil; 30-04-2013 at 10:53 PM.

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    I think if it were me, I'd try and pick out as much as possible, and then stick slightly raised beds on top of it with some compost/topsoil/manure. The worms will eventually incorporate the good stuff in with the clay-y soil underneath. A straw/cardboard/shredded paper mulch will add to the organic matter too and also keep weeds down between plants.
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    Hi Jen and welcome to the vine.

    If you are at all worried still after reading the advice above then as Sarz says, go for raised beds.
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    When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.
    If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

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