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Testing Soil for nasties!

Hi folks,

Planning to make a start on veg garden over the summer, current plan is to build as many raised beds as I can fit on one of the tiered terraces along the side of the garden. plus greenhouse, cold frames, compost bins etc. It currently scrubby turf, wild flowers and raspberries running wild.

As we in an area of previous heavy industry; coal mining, iron smelting, brick manufacture (way before contamination was a concern to industry, ended circa 1940) I was wondering if testing the ground for contamination would be a good idea? Environmental survey when we bought the place was typically vague.

What 'soil' I can see below the turf is mainly what looks like very finely ground slate chippings and plenty of lumps of coal. As the site was previously an open cast pit i'm assuming it's just been back-filled with pit waste.

Can anyone recommend what I should be testing for and if it's a DIY job or do I need to consult a pro?

Thanks in advance.



  • B3B3 Posts: 27,018
    There are so many possible contaminants, I'd seek professional advice.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • Thanks B3. I was suspecting someone may say that. Looking online professional outfits seem to start around £250. Better safe than sorry I spose!
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,442
    If you use raised beds with the bottom lined with heavy plastic and use new top soil in, you should be OK. Then you just have to know where the top soil came from...
  • HappyGrowerHappyGrower Posts: 15
    edited June 2022
    beds will be filled with manure and my own compost if i can get enough brewed up. plan to leave it to settle and break down over winter.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,989
    I think you need a good proportion of topsoil in that mix as well if you’re planning to grow vegetables. 😊 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Thanks. I’m currently
    researching an ideal mix for raised beds when starting from scratch. 

    But without the peat element of course, what would be a good substitute?

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