Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Soil Testing, Part Deux August 14, 2008

I spent a lot of time poring over the WSU list (see previous post) of soil testing labs. Many were ruled out since they don’t do home soil tests or if so, don’t test for heavy metals. I finally found a likely possibility and shot off an email at 10pm last night.

I got a really satisfying and comprehensive response at 8:04 this morning from Dan Nelson, PhD at Soiltest Farm Consultants, Inc . He really put my mind at ease about planting food crops in the parking strip – it seems that it’s probably no riskier, contaminant-wise, than a city backyard set-up:

“About the only difference in exposure between a garden by the road and in the back yard would be spills of liquids from parked vehicles that may run into the soil. However, since lead has been removed from gasoline, there are no hazardous metals in these fluids of which I am aware. As long as the plants grow well, I would expect no problems.”


I still might spring for a soil test, just to be sure I’m not feeding my kid lead-laced produce. A full soil test analysis including lead level and nutrient advice would run about $60, which seems worth it.


2 Responses to “Soil Testing, Part Deux”

  1. Aerie-el Says:

    The PhD I took a soils class from said there are a number of places to get soils tests, and specifically mentioned UMass, Amherst. The link to the tests they can do, and prices, also has a really good little pdf that sums up what you might need.

    Happy gardening!

  2. greenwalks Says:

    Hi Aerie-el –

    Thanks for the link, I am planning to test my parking strip soil by the end of this month and I’ll compare the UMass lab to Soiltest before I get going on actually taking samples to ship off.

    – Karen

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