Read hose label before using it on garden

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By Cheryl Steenerson

In life, it’s the little things that matter. People say that all the time and it’s true.
As a gardener, there are all kinds of little things that matter. Good soil, suckering your tomato plants, thinning the lettuce and watering the plants are all little things that matter. It’s that last one that I want you to pay attention to right now.
I remember as a kid playing outside in the summer, running through the sprinkler and drinking water straight from the hose. Sorry to say, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that anymore. These days the hoses are made from polyvinyl chloride, which uses lead as a stabilizer. That lead leaches out into the water, especially after laying in the sun.
Consumer Reports tested 16 water hoses for lead recently. The results were shocking. Just as I highly recommend reading the label before putting anything on the garden, the package around your new hose should be no different. Choose one labeled safe for drinking and always let it run a little before hitting the veggies in the garden.
Out of the 16 hoses they tested, four were labeled safe for drinking, six had warning labels and six weren’t labeled either way. The EPA requires lead levels to be 15 parts per billion or less to be considered safe for drinking. Tap water comes in at about that level.
Hoses that lay in the sun increase those levels of lead and that lead gets carried into the water and onto the lawn and garden. The tested hoses that carried the highest amount of lead, leached 10 to 100 times allowable lead levels in the first draw of standing water.
We all probably use hoses that we’ve had for years and don’t have a clue as to what kind it is now. My best advice is to let the water run for as long as a minute before you go pointing it on anything you are going to eat. If you need to buy a new hose, look at the labels and find something that actually states on the label safe for drinking.
The Center for Environmental Health sued three of the country’s leading hose makers for having high levels of lead in their products. Fortunately, they won and manufacturers have until July 31 of this year to reformulate and reduce the lead levels. That means there will be a lot of hoses going on sale. I wouldn’t buy them.
Camper, RV, and marine hoses are generally safe and made from medical grade vinyl. I’ve got to add to my hose collection this year and after researching, I’m getting the Ray Padula InfiniFlo Pure Drinking Water Safe Garden Hose. There are several other brands out there that are safe as well. You just have to read the fine print.
Strawberries, lettuce and cherry tomatoes are all coming in from the garden. Hooray. Every day takes us closer to harvesting beans, squash, cucumbers, big tomatoes and sweet corn. I can’t wait. The end of June is typically when we all get really busy picking.
Here on the farm, the sounds of the Fourth of July come from popping the black raspberries off the canes. I’m really hoping to actually get a decent crop this year, but those hopes have been dashed before. Lately, the rains dry up near the end of June and the berries do too. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Rather than dwell on what might be, let’s celebrate the great and little things in life. The honeysuckle is in full bloom and spreading it’s sweet scent into the air. The lightening bugs come out each night to dance the night away. Beauty abounds and I for one am thankful. Now, get out there and think of all the little things that bring a smile to your face. It helps to pass the time while you’re weeding.
Happy Growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is the gardening columnist for The Anderson News. She can be reached via e-mail at paysteen@shelbybb.net.