July Green Tip

Can you grow veggie crops on your septic leach field?

Your first thought might be this seems like a good idea b cause the ground will have lots of “nutrients”! Or maybe your first thought was “No way, the soil is polluted!” However, your first thought should be how to protect the field itself. This requires that it not be eroded—so you should have something with a shallow root system growing on it. You also want it to have good air circulation through the soil, so do not use mulch or raised beds on it. To protect the piping you do not want to pound stakes into the soil—some leach field pipes are just 6 inches down—and do not grow deep rooting plants on top. (Most trees, such as maples, should be 2-3 times their canopy away from the field.) Given these rules, can you grow veggies? An examination of a number of website indicated the following advice: play it safe and grow them somewhere else. However, some websites indicated that it was possible to do so, if your veggies avoid contact with the soil—the bacteria and viruses do not travel inside the plants. So you might focus on veggies that grow above ground level, such as peppers or tomatoes, and elevate ground vines, such as cucumbers, so that their fruit is off the ground. Wash all of these before eating. If the latter ideas sound attractive, search the web and make your own decision.