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Worried about soil at new house

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 6:00 am
by Ed123
Hello everyone! I'm new here and I have a few questions about soil safety. My mother moved into a new house a few months ago and it has 2 very nice raised garden beds each measuring approximately 8' x 6'. The beds were not covered and we want to put vegetables in them. I noticed there are a lot of cats around here and have no idea if these beds were contaminated in any way. Also, I have no idea what was grown in them before. Is it risky to grow vegetables in soil that we are unsure about? It seems like an awful lot of soil to get rid of and expensive to refill. Please help! :?

Re: Worried about soil at new house

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:59 am
by rainbowgardener
I would just sift the top few inches to be sure there is no kitty poo in it.

What vegetables or other plants they used to grow there doesn't make much difference. What would make a difference, if you are concerned about that kind of thing, is if they used poisons (pesticides, herbicides, etc) on their plants. Do you know how long it has been since it was gardened? Your mom moved there two months ago, but presumably it was vacant/ unused for awhile before that. Many of the typical garden poisons have short-ish half lives, so will be considerably reduced if a year has gone by since anything was sprayed there.

Add a bunch of compost to it. Compost with live microbial/fungal/etc cultures helps remediate a lot of problems:

" Compost bioremediation has proven effective in degrading or altering many types of contaminants, such as chlorinated and nonchlorinated hydrocarbons, wood-preserving chemicals, solvents, heavy metals, pesticides, petroleum products, and explosives." https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/fi ... oremed.pdf

You will need to buy compost now, but start your own compost pile for later. Best thing you can do for your garden!

Check out the Compost Forum viewforum.php?f=35 for some threads on basics of composting and a thread on Aerated Compost Tea. Brewing up some compost tea would be a good way to add a bunch more beneficial microbial life to your soil.

Give it all a little time to work. That will give time for weed seeds to sprout, which you can turn under for extra biomass. Then plant!!

Best Wishes and keep us posted how it goes!

Re: Worried about soil at new house

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 10:18 am
by applestar
Sounds like a good plan. Observe the "weeds" that come up too. If they are growing normally, then less chance of active herbicide residue.

Re: Worried about soil at new house

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:01 pm
by Ed123
Thank you, Rainbowgardener and Applestar! Great info :)