Making a garden over an old fire pit of rubbish

by jon
(gainesville, Ga, US)

I live in northeast georgia, we are about to start a garden and I was wondering if it is safe to do a garden over a plowed up fire pit?
We have burnt all kinds of things in this fire pit in the past though, rubber, metal, plastic, glass etc. We are taking out any scraps we find in the plowing process of course, but is there any danger in making a garden over this? thanks

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May 18, 2011
Is it safe to make a garden over burnt rubbish
by: Megan

Interesting question. To get a correct answer you would need to get a soil analysis done. I believe this would be a good idea. If there are traces of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, nickel and chromium, they may adhere to or be absorbed by your vegetables and then consumed by you and your family.

Testing the soil pH is important too, because there may be a lot of ash, which would've raised the alkalinity. Most plants don't like high alkaline soils and you certainly couldn't successfully grow the likes of potatoes which like a slightly acid soil.

Many people have used raised garden beds to cover contaminate ground, especially when turning previous industrial sites into urban gardens. The idea is that you start with fresh compost and soil, but in many cases it is now being discovered that wind and rain can transport fine chemical particles, particularly lead, into the raised beds from the nearby contaminated ground. A solution was found and it is to remove the top inch or so (3-5cm) of soil each year and dispose of it safely or according to local regulations.

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