Soil contamination is a serious concern, and the only way to learn about your land is to learn its history and conduct some easy tests.

Contaminated land can be a serious issue on vacant property. Make sure you check your soil before beginning farming. Inexpensive soil tests can be conducted via mail at several labs across the country. Your state’s Cooperative Extension office may offer free testing, or you can use a soil testing company. If soil contamination is a problem, consider raised beds or greenhouse production.

For new growers without much technical background, amending soil with nutrients can be a helpful but intimidating task. Especially for organic growers, choosing appropriate amendments like lime, chicken feather meal, and sulfate becomes easily confusing. Check out the resources below for some how-to guides for amending your own soil. If your land is not toxically contaminated and simply suffers from nutrient imbalance, you have the power to build stronger soil. As with every part of new gardening or farming, it is a great idea to check with nearby neighbor growers. Although soil can vary greatly even within a few square miles, your neighbors will have advice and experience that serves you well.