By Reggie Solomon
Not having an accurate understanding of your soil’s pH, composition and potential contamination level is just plain bad, especially for the urban gardener.
Lead paint chips from old houses and old buildings can be harmful to the soil, plants and people. If you have lead contaminated soil, you should avoid root vegetables and leafy greens which can concentrate the worst bits of contamination. Fruiting vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, peas, squash, are safer to grow in this type of soil.
Living one block from a major interstate highway intersection (I-95 and I-91), I’m not especially ecstatic about checking my soil’s contamination level. If problems exist, there is a part of me that really doesn’t want to know. Unfortunately, since I am not growing vegetables simply for myself, but to share with friends, I (and you) can’t afford the luxury of purposeful ignorance.
Wherever you take your soil in to be analyzed, be sure to note on the soil sample label that you want an “organic garden” analysis to get more detailed soil feedback. To find a place to get your soil tested, contact your county extension agency or agricultural experiment station. You may be able to find this through your state government website. If you’re near
To locate a soil testing or cooperative extension office in your area visit this link.