GARDEN TIP: Are there heavy metals in the vegetables from your garden? Soils can be sent to be tested here…

 I planted some cold weather crops for a client in her raised beds filled with compost. I love how the Swiss Chard's roots are just as colorful as their leaves.

I planted some cold weather crops for a client in her raised beds filled with compost. I love how the Swiss Chard's roots are just as colorful as their leaves.

The date for our average last frost is coming up on us here in the suburbs of Boston (check out this website for your area- just plug in your zip code). This means it’s almost time to plant your vegetable garden! Before planting anything in the ground I would recommend getting your soil tested. Imagine whatever is in your garden’s soil will grow through your plant and then you eat that. There’s that saying, “you are what you eat.” Often times in urban environments you will find high levels of lead and other heavy metals. The metals just sit there until you have them removed and amend your soil with compost and top soil. Humans do need metals such as iron and copper in their diets for good health but in small dosages. Large amounts of heavy metals like lead can be toxic to humans and especially children so get your soil tested.

Usually when you get your soil test back it will give you suggestions on how to approach your garden. If the soil tests are high for lead they will probably recommend you don’t plant any vegetable crops and just plant perennials and shrubs in that area. Leafy greens and root vegetables are plants you want to avoid eating when there are toxic levels of heavy metals in your soil.

I use Umass Amherst for my soil testing (it costs $15 for their routine analysis and it gets busy in the spring so send your soil in early): http://ag.umass.edu/services/soil-plant-nutrient-testing-laboratory/ordering-information-forms

You can also have your soil sample sent to these locations as well to be tested:

 

Below is an example of our soil test from Umass Amherst last year. The lead was higher than we would like so we amended our soil.