Master Gardener’s Corner: Food Safety in your Home Vegetable Garden

From garden to kitchen, there are many chances for bacteria, viruses, and parasites to contaminate produce. Water, tools, animals, and manure-contaminated soil may spread harmful organisms in your garden.

Reduce the risk of contaminating food grown in your garden

Clean Soil

For the greatest safety, do not use manure when growing leafy vegetables or other commodities that will be eaten raw.

Do not add fresh manure to existing compost piles.

Keep wild and domestic animals out of the garden.

Clean Water

Know about the quality of your irrigation water.

Use drip irrigation to reduce wetting of leaf and fruit surfaces.

Use tap water for any overhead irrigation or sprays on the edible parts of plants.

Wash produce under running tap water, rather than batch-washing in a basin.

Clean Hands

Clean hands and clean surfaces are the easiest ways to prevent contamination.

Use protective or disposable gloves when working with manure and compost.

Always wash hands thoroughly after working with these materials.

Clean Surfaces

Before and during harvest use clean tools, gloves, harvest containers, and work surfaces.

Hose off tools, shoes, or boots in an area well-separated from your vegetable garden.

Dilute bleach (1 teaspoon in 4 cups water) or pure white vinegar are safe for sanitizing work surfaces.

This article was written by the UC Master Gardener Program.

— Contributed by The Master Gardeners of Colusa County. They can be contacted by: Phone (530) 458-0570. Email glhernandez@ucanr.edu. office, 100 Sunrise Blvd., Ste. E, Colusa.