I was chatting with a friend in England on Facebook yesterday, and mentioned that I’m gearing up to do some soil sampling for lead content for a planned community garden near where I dwell. Some community gardens just grow pretty flowers to make the neighborhood look nice. In less classy neighborhoods, like mine, they tend to grow produce for people to eat, and exist to give local kids something positive to get involved in. The problem is that plants will uptake toxic heavy metals into their tissues, along with soil nutrients, without negative effects to the plants, but if people are gonna EAT that veggie or fruit, look out.
You can see the stuff I’ve previously written about the negative and, yes, even positive effects of this phenomenon if you just go to the little “Search” window on the upper right part of this page and type in “vetch” or “arsenic” or “selenium” or “phytoremediation.” I even managed to work in van Gogh’s paintings of sunflowers, crafty me.
What Nic told me, though, was something I hadn’t heard of before, and thought was really cool. Here’s what he had to say: “The old way lead and silver prospectors in the Mendips used to search was to plant gooseberry bushes, let them grow a season, then cut it down, burn it and look for globules of either metal in the ashes.”
Now that’s a testament to human ingenuity, and to being in touch with how the biosphere works. Folk wisdom at its best, no college required. If it works, what more do you need?
[This brings back to mind picking gooseberries on a camping trip, and my Mom making a pie out of them. Great days they were.]