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I’d like to grow edible plants in my garden, but…

Cath Asked

I’d like to grow edible plants in my garden but want to make sure we don’t have a lead contamination problem. Could you please tell me where to get the soil testing done? I know lead tends to accumulate more in leafy greens, and less in fruits like tomatoes, peppers, etc. How about seeds?

The Gardener’s Answer

It is a good idea to have your soil tested if you are concerned about high levels of lead in your soil. For general soil testing in Kentucky, I always suggest contacting your County Cooperative Extension Service, but the University of Kentucky lab does not test for lead. The Boyle County office suggests an independent lab in Owensboro. Waters Agricultural Laboratories in Owensboro charges $15 and will give you the results within a week.

To take a sample, dig up 1-1.5 cups of soil in your vegetable garden. Take small samples randomly throughout the garden and then combine all of it into a plastic zipped bag. To avoid inaccurate results, use a plastic, chrome, or stainless steel spoon or digging tool to collect the soil.

Send it to Waters Agricultural Laboratories at 2101 Calhoun Rd., Owensboro, KY 42301. If you want to contact them their phone number is (270) 685-4039. You can send a check along with the sample or they will invoice you later. Include your contact information with your sample. It is always best to purchase seeds from a reliable source. If you are looking for organic seed options, Baker Creek and Renee’s Garden are both good mail order options.

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