Cleaning soil after removing toxic plants

8 years ago

We are in the planning stages for creating a garden and chicken run in our back yard and I think I'm FINALLY going to get my way and get rid of the oleander. Since it's toxic to humans and chickens, I want to rip it out and plant a fruit tree there for shade (and fruit, of course!) instead, but I'm assuming the soil will still contain toxins from the oleander that has been there at least a decade or three.

So, how best to clean up the soil there so the fruit from the tree and the chickens will be safe? Should I plant a cover crop (if so, what?) for a season or two before putting in a new fruit tree? Just add compost and leave it empty for awhile (how long?)?

I've done a little reading and found the term phytoremediation, but everything I've found on the topic refers to chemicals in the soil from pesticides, heavy metals, etc. not plant toxins. (In fact, one site listed oleander as a great way to remediate toxic soil.... but that wasn't in reference to vegetable gardening.)

Another site said sunflowers are good for removing heavy metals from the soil, but how are they at removing plant toxins? I'd harvest and toss whatever cover crop I grow, but I'm wondering which plant(s) would work best and how long I have to wait.

Comments (7)