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Coal in the soil

I have moved into a new home. In one area the past tenants used the corner as their coal bin so there is a lot of coal gravel in the earth. Will this kill my new plants? This area is part shady and I would like to use it to plant a fern garden. What can I do to improve the earth in that area?


Coal and coal by-products can be quite toxic to plants. There is also the slim possibility of health risks from eating vegetables grown on such soils. You would probably find that your new plants would fail to thrive if planted in this coal gravel.

I do, however, have a few suggestions. Could you sieve out most of the coal gravel? If so, you could add compost to the area and hope that you have removed enough of the coal gravel to allow your ferns to grow. An expensive option is to remove the soil and replace it entirely. Otherwise you could pave the area and grow your ferns in planter boxes or in raised beds. Good luck!

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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