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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

One Step Forward, One Step Back

Happier herb
I was quite industrious in the garden on the weekend. I decided the herb garden was looking scraggly and needed a good clean up. So I moved all the pots about and hung a few of them on the fence and weeded the ground. Then I paid a visit to my favourite big barn Bunnings (where I always get tempted to buy things I ought to grow from seed myself) and got a few seedlings. I spent a little while looking at a whopping big greenhouse which I was tempted by as well. Fortunately, there is absolutely nowhere in my yard where a greenhouse would currently fit. Then I was eyeing off the seed potatoes when a lovely Bunnings man quietly advised me not to waste my money. He told me all about how his family used to do it (more on potatoes in a future post). We started chatting about blogs and how he was thinking of setting up a blog once he retired from Bunnings. The next thing we were exchanging emails and I was promising to follow his potato instructions and send him a link to this blog and I think he was dreaming of retirement, his new ventures into blog world and fixing motor mowers.

Anyway, I tidied up the herb patch and spent most of Monday admiring the new view from the back window. But then I noticed that I wasn't seeing any sun in that herb patch.  None at all. For the entire day. I consulted with Monkey Man (he who knows all about the seasons and sun and just how far the sun extends into the garden at what time of day and what time of year) and I was informed that the herb garden receives no sun during the depths of winter. Not a bit. You'd think I'd have noticed this in the past - I have lived here for almost nine years now, but this was news to me!

This new information caused me to get into a bit of a flap. Why did I just waste my time (and money) cleaning up the herbs and sorting them onto the fence and planting new parsley seedlings and coriander and such if they were going to be sitting in the shade for another six weeks? The only solution was to re-locate them to way up the back along the chook run for winter.

So I did. Once I finished that, I persuaded Monkey Man and a visiting friend to break their backs and move the old laundry trough up the back too. I have plans to grow some veggies in this trough. Once that was finished I was sitting on the slide admiring my handywork when it occurred to me that the peeling paint on that laundry trough was likely to be lead paint. And now it was peeling flakes into my veggie patch. Right near the chook run. This induced another more intense flapping about on my part.

I have been in a lead-poisoning flap before. A few years ago I noticed all of our internal doors were chipping away and desperately needing some attention. But then I realised that they hadn't been painted in many years and that they were most likely covered in lead-based paint. The worst thing to do when you're a bit of a worrier and discover something to worry about is to google it. So that's what I did. By the end of that hour I had convinced myself the whole family was about to die of lead poisoning. I eventually got over that one, painted the doors and haven't worried about a possible lead death. Until now.

Now I have a perfect view from my back window of the herb garden re-located to an inconvenient spot but at least bathed in sunlight. But what I really see first thing as I open my curtains is a flaky, old laundry trough smack bang in the middle of my garden. Just waiting for a bit of rain to come along and wash away a few more flakes of lead and poison my soil, or a gust of wind to come and blow some dust up my nose and poison me and my chooks and my monkeys. Oh dear. I'm going to have to don the mask and scraper and scrape it all off today before I worry myself into an early grave. I'll try not to remember all those dire warnings I googled a few years back about lead dust getting up your nose and fingernails and in your hair and clothes... I'm consoling myself with the memory I'm sure is mine, of a baby standing up and chewing the timber of the cot. There must be thousands of babies born in the late sixties and earlier who chewed the lead paint off their cot. And we haven't all died yet.

Now before you comment today, bear in mind that I am an anxious, worrying kind of person (if it hadn't already occurred to you). And I have already worked myself up into a bit of a state over this one. Consoling, re-assuring comments about how lead-based paint poisoning is all an urban myth, or that there is new medication out now, or that the paint in the picture surely doesn't look like lead and other such comments will all be gratefully received.
Offending laundry trough

18 comments:

  1. I can so relate to this post my particular is Asbestos danger.

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  2. I'm of the lead paint generation, and I'm still alive. I'm sure many of the toys I played with (and no doubt chewed a bit) had lead paint on them.

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  3. Get out there and scrape it off, put the scrapings into a bag and dont worry about it another second...
    by the way, I LOVE YOUR TROUGH...I have one , although mine wasnt painted..so stop worrying, get it done and then you can love it too.....

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  4. All that hard work! Yes scrape it off after you have wet it thoroughly so you dont breathe it in.
    Or just paint over the whole lot with an acrylic paint in your favorite color!!! On a positive note your parsley looks really healthy.Cheers

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  5. I agree with all the above so won't repeat it My concern, when I feel the need to worry, is usually white ants, which we had an infestation of many years ago,which cost us a fortune and because of my constant concern (I check and recheck woodwork around the place)and get the place sprayed every year. I am told with non poisonous spray (well then how does it kill the ants?)
    You see we all are worrying ourselves silly for nothing.

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  6. Thank you for your comments but I'm afraid I'm worrying myself silly now after further consultation with a couple of friends and google. I've decided that I will paint over the lot to seal it and then move it somewhere else and put ornamentals not veggies in it. Now everywhere I look I see more to fear. Monkey Man has used old timber to build everywhere. I see dangers all over the place. And tonight as I was making dinner I was looking at the kitchen window - there's old flaking paint on it probably falling in the food every day! And that's just the beginning. Sigh.

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  7. I think we might be twins... I worry, I plant things in the wrong place because I don't think things through (or notice where the sun is - and we call ourselves gardeners!), and I am pretty sure I am living in a lead painted box... and as soon as one of my boys has a few too many spots - it's meningitis.

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  8. Lead paint has been banned for about 40 years, so unless that's an heirloom trough I really don't think you've got anything to worry about. But you must do what makes you feel comfortable.

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  9. I've got one of those troughs too and have herbs in it. Mine was unpainted but I have since painted it.
    Looking at your one there doesn't seem (from the photo at least) to be much paint on the inside. I would be inclined to just scrap what you can, sand it and put some new fresh paint over it (I just painted down to the soil level on the inside).
    It does make for a really great herb planter!

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  10. Yeah, scrape it off and forget about it. I love a good concrete trough..I am going to get a couple from mums when I can get someone to help me lift them.

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  11. Well, if it gets sun only in summer keep it for mint, is the strongest of herbs and does well even in winter in the shadow :-)

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  12. Hey chicky, do not stress. We're all exposed to toxins everyday everywhere and I figure your mostly toxin free lifestyle balances out your possible short-lived lead exposure! Yup paint over it and seal it, it's a gorgeous trough though.

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  13. Love the trough, it will look fantastic whatever you do to paranoia-proof it, and make sure you show us pictures when you do!

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  14. My Italian neighbor had one like that and his parsley grown in it was magnificent. As someone said I think the paint is only on the outside, and should be easy to flake off and remove.

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  15. Scraping off and put up facial treatment, will make it looks younger..... I would probably treat only the rusty part and leave the rest to look OLD as it should... :) Happy Gardening.

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  16. Love your enthusiasm and desire to be sustainable! Keep it up .... as a permaculture guru that i adore once said to me .... there are never mistakes .... only opportunities to learn! And it's great fun! Can't wait to see how it goes for you .... and, like you .... i'm counting down until spring too! From a fellow sydneysider (sort of -- Blue Mountains!)
    Maggie
    backwardssimply.blogspot.com

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  17. For what it's worth I just showed my hubby (who is a painter)your pic and he doesn't think it would be lead paint he reckons it's probably enamel. He says you can buy a tester kit from a paint shop to see if it is lead or not.
    P.S. like the wall planter you have the herbs in, I just bought the exact same one yesterday for my herbs!

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  18. Really Selina? That would be a relief. I've seen the same paint on lots of other things around our place and we reckon it was done in the 60s. Anyway, I did scrape and paint over it. Now it's a lovely purply blue colour and will be planted out with flowers.
    I'd never thought of putting herbs on the fence until I saw a friend do it... Good idea eh?

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