Memorial Day weekend is a somewhat-traditional planting weekend in the Northeast. This spring, even USDA hardiness zone 6a[1] has been experiencing some quite balmy temperature, so we’ve actually had our sprouts outside for almost all of May. But this weekend, we couldn’t buck tradition, and we went ahead and planted the majority of them, and took a trip out to Milton (a.k.a. the city that got beat up in middle school) to visit some nurseries. We came home with a butterfly bush to help screen our yard from the neighbor’s. The directions on the bush said to dig a hole twice as deep and thrice as wide as the root ball.

Eight inches down, I hit a layer of something weird. It was hard, and kind of looked like paint chips. And there were a bunch of them. Under the paint chips, there were plastic bags. (Wonder Bread! Doritos!) Under the bags were cans of Schlitz (!) and empty bottles of Nair (!!). Eventually, we passed through the garbage and emerged into some nice-looking dark organic soil. Shove the bush in the hole and run. But wait.. paint chips? The Schlitz can was clearly an old-style removable pull tab. According to the Wikipedia article, the new style was invented in 1975, and was almost universally adopted by the early 1980’s. And lead paint wasn’t banned for sale in the US until 1978.

Although plants don’t take up much lead, we should definitely clean all of our vegetables thoroughly, and probably get a testing kit.

[1] Boston is in zone 6a under the official (but relatively old) 1990 hardiness zone map. But it’s been placed in zone 7 under the 2003 draft of updated hardiness zones and other more recent drafts based on new climate data.