One Craptacular Week

It’s been one hell of a week. First we find out, via a soil test, that our backyard may have high levels of lead and zinc. We’ll write a lot more about this once I confirm the results–I’ve sent in another sample to a different lab. And my doctor has agreed to give me a blood test. Whatever the results, I want to help get out the word about this serious issue–ironically, next week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

Then yesterday we found out that one of our kittens, Phoebe, has a some sort of serious heart defect. The blogging muses can sometimes leave us at times like this so don’t be surprised if it takes us a few days to get ourselves back together.

So please hold our dear little kitten in your thoughts and prayers as well as the worldwide need for healing our soils. After all, we all need to eat, and all food whether it be plant or animal based, has its origins in living soil systems.

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  1. We lost a kitten to a birth defect that caused a heart attack a few months back – it was absolutely heart breaking. I’m holding out hope for Phoebe’s speedy recovery, sending lots of good, healthy kitty vibes up your way.

  2. 🙁 I thought you guys tested your yard before though? I remember journal entries mentioning soil tests (and have been meaning to run some of my own..) Was this a previously untested part of the yard? I’m sorry to hear about the kitty..

  3. That’s a rough week.

    I hope that your kitten turns out to be able to live a long, happy life.

    When you are up to it I would be interested to hear the details of your soil testing (who performed it). We’ve haven’t done any testing in our yard, although we probably should, I am a bit scared of what the answer might be.

  4. Hope your kitten comes through OK… and you. I wondered when we first moved in to our house and started the garden, should I have the soil tested?

  5. Sad day! That sucks. I just dropped off a soil test at our extension office this week, and I asked about testing for lead and such. Hope things improve markedly soon.

  6. Zinc in the soil has been a terrific problem near Palmerton, PA for decades. The zinc plant there (now closed) devastated the landscape and left the mountains oddly bare of trees. I cannot remember if the company was held responsible for any sort of remediation, but I don’t believe that the problem was ever resolved satisfactorily.

  7. Dixiebelle–Heavy metal issues aside, a soil test is always a good idea when you start a garden. In my case I had done tests in the backyard, but not for lead. If I had kids this would be especially important. I’ll be blogging more about this issue over the next week.

  8. Thanks everyone for your good wishes. Today kitty is going to see one of the best cat dr’s in LA.

    @Zafra: I’m so sorry to hear that.

    @Mjlai: Our testing has been in the front yard for the most part–and then one test for an ailing bed in the back. Now we’re going to test the beejezus out of everything.

    @Gina: I promise we’ll be sharing lots of information soon to help you out. We’re planning to write a whole series of posts.

    @Katie: Good for you!

  9. You might find some lead-accumulating plants listed in Invasive Plant Medicine by Timothy Lee Scott. Grow ’em, cut ’em and bag them as toxic waste. Ugh!

  10. My sympathies are with you. Realizing how fortunate we are that tests on the 1 acre site where we’re building the new community garden came back “no problems.”

    But all is not lost. Think brassicas, corn, sunflowers,(hemp!), alpine pennycress/Thlaspi caerulescens, and possibly mushrooms. Read up on phytoremediation ( and, and return to studying the work of Paul Stamets.

  11. Indeed, you may be able to salvage your growing area. Phytoremediation is one way to go. Pumpkins and other members of the squash family are good at extracting heavy metals from the soil. Also india mustard is a classic to remove metals as well. You might also try a no till approach to improve above your current soil. Charles Dowding from the UK ( has a good approach with this.

    Sorry to here about your kitten. Lost my cat of 19 years last year. Had him since he was about 6 weeks old. Sorely missed.

  12. Thinking of you. Hopefully your cat gets better.

    If the soil test was right, how does this affect anything you grow? Will it still be okay or would you have to do some major soil renovation? Or have you just not thought that far ahead yet?

  13. don’t forget to look into the experts at your land grant university – would that be UC -Davis? or any professor around the country who works with stuff like that. I went to grad school for plant nutrition, and my professor was always tickled pink to get a practical question. and he wasn’t in extension

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