Rule #1 for Urban Gardens: Get the Lead out.

10 Steps to Lead Remediation Lead from old paint and leaded gasoline has contaminated much of the soil in New York City. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to get the lead out, but follow these steps and feel good about growing vegetables in your urban garden!

1)  Start Fresh. For edibles, buy new soil.  Put landscape fabric between new and old soil to stop roots from growing through.

2) Add organic matter. Organic matter like compost and mulch forms strong bonds with lead, making it harder for edibles to soak up.

3) Use raised beds. These hold your new soil and edibles above and away from contamination

4) Build with untreated wood or natural stone. Avoid tires and pressure treated wood.

5) Mulch the soil or grow a ground cover like clover. This will help reduce contamination from the air and also reduced weeds.

6) Keep kids safe. Lead is a bigger risk for children. Put landscape fabric or plastic below play areas. Keep an eye on toddlers and make sure they never eat the soil.

7) Wash your hands and wear gloves. You can pick up contaminants from the ground or in the soil.

8) Leave soil in the garden. Keep muddy shoes and dirty clothes out of your house and away from your kitchen.

9) Wash and peel produce. Root vegetables, leafy greens, and herbs are the most likely to get contaminated. Fruits are the least likely.

10) Test your soil. Thanks Cornell and the Healthy Soils Project for these great tips! Check out their soil testing info here: http://soilhealth.cals.cornell.edu/extension/test.htm

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