Soil test - do I need one and where??


Old 03-12-11, 12:58 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 219
Soil test - do I need one and where??

The weather has started to get warmer and gardening is back on my mind... we're planning on expanding our garden this year and growing more of our food.

Does anyone have any experience or recommendations for soil tests? I'm specifically worried about chemicals and metals that may be in the soil. We moved into the house 5 years ago and don't know a lot about the area prior to us moving in. As we have young children.. am a little bit worried about harmful stuff in the soil making it's way into the plants we eat.

Part of the garden is adjacent to our deck that is pressure treated lumber.... should we be worried about arsenic in the soil from the wood? Can this be tested?

Am I just being a worry-wart?

thanks for any advice/recommendations...

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Old 03-12-11, 01:31 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 44,531
Usually your county ag agent can get the soil tested for you. I wouldn't be overly concerned about anything toxic in your soil unless stuff has been buried or poured out on the ground - not likely in a residential area. The soil test would let you know what amendments to your soil would help the most. I don't know if they test for toxins but you could ask.
Old 03-12-11, 01:47 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 3,188
Soil tests are a good idea to establish a baseline for a lawn or garden. It can help determine what adjustments and amendments are needed to get the best performance from your soil. Most people get soil tests done for this purpose.

I'm no expert, but IMO the PT arsenic leach has been way overblown. Do you have any reason to suspect that other harmful materials may have been dumped where you want your garden? If not, I would just amend the soil as needed to grow big succulent tomatoes and crunchy green beans.

I would not bother with the DIY soil test kits sold at most home stores. If you are concerned about testing for contaminants your best bet is a test lab.

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