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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Plants to Clean Your Yard

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Tris
llama momma
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Post  LikeToGarden 3/9/2013, 5:07 am

Just some tid bits to read and think about.

The undefeated champion of phytoremediation has got to be the sunflower. Yep, sunflowers, which are so cheap and easy to grow
Sunflowers absorb lead, arsenic, zinc, chromium, copper, and manganese, and were successfully used to clean up uranium and strontium-90 from contaminated soil in the Ukraine after the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history.

Hydrangeas are popular ornamental plants grown for their large clumps of flowers, which can be pink, blue, purple, creamy white or somewhere in between.
Another attractive flowering shrub that removes aluminum from the soil is Melastoma affine, also known by the common name Blue Tongue.

For removing lead from soil, most members of the Brassica family will do the trick: Kale, mustard greens, collards, broccoli, and so forth. However, in this usage obviously you aren’t going to want to eat them, so you can go for ornamental varieties of kale and cabbage, which are frilly and colorful, and generally too tough to eat, anyway.

Water Hyssop (Bacopa monnieri) removes not only lead, but mercury, cadmium and chromium from bogs and wetlands, and makes a lovely ground cover for muddy shores. It has small succulent leaves, and dainty white flowers.

The water hyacinth naturally absorbs pollutants from water, including cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead, zinc, cesium, strontium-90, uranium, and pesticides. It is extremely fast growing and has lovely blossoms, mostly lavender to pink. It originated in South America but is now an invasive species all over the place.

If you’re interested in trees, the common mulberry tree (M. rubra) has been shown to release chemicals that support the growth of bacteria that break down PCBs, and willow trees absorb cadmium, zinc, and copper.
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Post  llama momma 3/9/2013, 7:33 am

I'd like to know when the plants absorb nasty toxins how is it safely disposed? Certainly not returned to the soil or compost. Shocked
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Post  Tris 3/9/2013, 8:06 am

llama momma wrote:I'd like to know when the plants absorb nasty toxins how is it safely disposed? Certainly not returned to the soil or compost. Shocked
I'd imagine you would dispose it properly, to your local recycle or disposal center and as a biohazard.
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Post  LikeToGarden 3/9/2013, 11:25 pm

I agree with Tris.

I read somewhere about Sunflowers:
When you are ready to dig them you are suppose to used gloves and a garden trowel and have some plastic bags (kind you get from the food stores or Walmart). Use the garden trowel to make a circle like area around the stalk bottom away from the roots then gently raise the roots out and place it onto a plastic bag. You don't want to disturb the soil around the roots to much at the stalk as they sometimes will have metals etc attached to them in the dense center of the roots. Place the dug up root into a plastic bag and tie it off. It's now ready to dispose of.
As far as the gloves I don't remember if you to throw away the gloves but I guess it makes sense to do so.
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Post  littlejo 3/10/2013, 12:29 am

Is there any way to tell if sunflowers have been doing their cleaning? My birds and I love to eat sunflower seeds. Is it just the roots or the seeds affected too?
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Post  cheyannarach 3/10/2013, 12:48 am

That was very informative, thanks for sharing!! Very Happy
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Post  LikeToGarden 3/10/2013, 1:13 am

littlejo wrote:Is there any way to tell if sunflowers have been doing their cleaning? My birds and I love to eat sunflower seeds. Is it just the roots or the seeds affected too?
Jo

According to this Farmer's Almanac article
farmersalmanac[DOT]com/home-garden/2012/06/11/sunflowers-to-the-rescue/
They absorb through the roots (and collect there) and the leaves and flower heads. The article states they did soil tests.

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Post  LikeToGarden 3/10/2013, 1:15 am

cheyannarach wrote:That was very informative, thanks for sharing!! Very Happy

Thanks cheyannarach Smile
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Post  Unmutual 3/10/2013, 1:10 pm

Tris wrote:
llama momma wrote:I'd like to know when the plants absorb nasty toxins how is it safely disposed? Certainly not returned to the soil or compost. Shocked
I'd imagine you would dispose it properly, to your local recycle or disposal center and as a biohazard.

+1. It's now hazardous material depending on PPM/PPB counts. The easiest way to deal with most heavy metals is to just not grow in it, grow on top of it instead.
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Post  jazzycat 3/22/2013, 9:13 pm

Mushrooms also clean up toxic waste and chemicals. Don't remember if it's particular kinds of mushrooms, or mushrooms in general, but I've seen a number of videos with Paul Stamets talking about this. (He is a leading expert on mushrooms.) There is a great one on Ted. Here is a link, if you're interested in watching it.

http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world.html
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