Friday, May 20, 2011

Gardening Allergies

Mike and I read an article about an unusual gardening method from Mother Earth magazine last winter. The article suggested using large bags of potting soil for the garden. The bags are poked to create drain holes and laid flat on the ground. Then a large rectangle is cut out from the center of the bag. Seeds are planted in the normal manner. But the middle of the summer, the plants have root systems in the soil beneath the bag.

The benefit to this type of soil is that the gardener is able to begin a garden without all the back-breaking work of breaking sod, etc. The following season, the plastic bag is removed, the grass/plants under the bag are dead, and the soil can be tilled into the ground for a better garden.

We had planned on using this method along our fence line this summer. I didn't have enough money to create raised beds everywhere I wanted this year and this method would allow us to have a slightly larger growing area.

Mike and I purchased a lot of bags of potting soil from Meijers and carted them home. By the time we reached the house, my hands were itchy and swollen. I washed my hands thoroughly, but the swelling continued. Eventually, it was necessary to take an antihistamine. We had purchased a lot of seeds and plants, so I assumed that my reaction was to one of the plants. Michael dumped some of the soil into planters and I planted some lettuces and herbs.

A few days later, Amy went outside to help move the remaining bags to the more permanent location. After a few minutes, her hands began to swell. The plastic bags caused an allergic reaction! We ended up not using the bags of soil as planters this summer. I was amazed that a plastic bag could cause such extreme reactions. Mike thinks that it might be the spray that is used on plastic bags that are stacked on pallets. Regardless of what caused the swelling and itching, we won't be purchasing any more potting soil from Meijers.

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