Bad soil?

Asked January 21, 2015, 8:36 PM EST

I am renting a house and wanted to start a garden. I started cleaning up the backyard and found shards of glass, plastic, and even a cell phone hidden in the dirt and weeds. As I was pulling up a few weeds, I noticed the soil looked grey and ashy. Is this soil okay to grow things in? Should I worry about it being contaminated from the plastic? Thank you! -Steph

Pottawattamie County Iowa

1 Response

It's difficult to know what may be in the soil. The glass is a hazard in that someone could get cut when working in the garden. The plastic should not have contaminated the soil as it takes many, many years for plastic to break down.

My suggestion is to plant vegetables that produce above ground fruits, such tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, squash, etc. After harvest, thoroughly wash the vegetables. Avoid planting root crops that grow directly in the soil, such as carrots, beets, and radishes.

If the plants in the garden look sickly or die, don't eat anything from the garden.