This may be a silly question but one that is eating at me. We are making a move this summer to a town that does not have a public sewer. Water is public but every house has its own septic system. Properties are small and leach fields are very close to homes and neighboring homes. Litterally there is a trampoline located over the septic system and a kid's swing set over the leach field at the property we are looking at. How safe is it to plant fresh food that we plan to consume near a septic leach field?
I don't think it should be a problem. I have a septic system and a leach bed. I only use natural things, so I'm not flushing a bunch of chemicals into my system. I personally don't plant anything directly over it because I don't want any root systems to interfere with my leach beds. You are actually not supposed to use bleech or other harsh chemicals when you have leach beds because it can kill all the bacteria that is in there doing its job. The grass over the leach fields grow so much more green and lush then the rest of the yard, I have to assume that this is good. I would be interested to hear other peoples take on this though.
When I was growing up my mom planted carrots, horseradish, strawberries, peas and all sorts of things on the leach field. It was the only place anything would grow, due to the soil being "rock". Everyone thought we were weird, but we were the only ones that had fresh fruit and veggies from our "garden" at dinner.
Be sure you are very careful with your septic system it can be very expensive to replace it. Bleach and baking soda should be used sparingly (since you have city water it is probably already treated, so I wouldn't ever use bleach-take it to a laundromat). Don't hook up a water softener to it, when they recharge, it puts way to much salt in the system, which could cause it to fail. Never dump anything down your drain you wouldn't want to water your plants with. Garbage disposals are very bad. Make sure your toilet paper is septic safe, but be careful because some tp's say they are septic safe and even have some sort of organization stamp on them (Sharmin-misspelled on purpose) that says they are safe, but are not. Do not flush tissue paper. Never park on your leach field.
Things you should flush on occasion, and when they are available: yeast and expired yogurt.
I have a well and a septic. I was told many decades ago that 90% of my water that goes through my septic and leach field will eventually end up back in my well (I don't know how long it would take), so that helps me make decisions on what gets flushed, what gets tossed and what I throw out the back door for the critters.
I currently have wild strawberries and raspberries on my septic, they are delish!
Thank you both for weighing in on this. I would think the soil would be more fertile but the issue of chemicals in the soil certainly raises a good point. My mom-in-law lives with us and where I may use only green bio-degradeable products, she does not. Bleach definitely makes it into our washing machine on occasion among other harsh cleaning products.
To have the best chance at Passing the New 2011 EPA Drain Field and Nitrate Level Inspections; which are happening across the Country with as little as a 2 weeks notice; Use the All-Natural http://www.MillerPlante.net "Septic-Helper 2000" and the Phosphate and Nitrate Free "Enza Washer Ball". The Septic System Treatment has the natural bacteria and enzymes that liquefy the waste in the tank AND out in the drain field.
New 2011 EPA mandates say that even a slow drain in your leach field or elevated Nitrate levels could require replacement of your entire system for $20,000 to $40,000 or move out of your home or business.
Septic system treatments are great, they do work. Why spend the money on them though? If you have some yeast in your cabinet that you wouldn't trust to use in a recipe because it is getting old or you have yogurt that has gone bad, flush it.
For 10 years I worked as a heavy equipment operator/truck driver and one of the things that we did most often was replace failed septic systems. Several reasons why they failed:
Washing machine abuse, such as using baking soda or bleach to excess.
I know of a really large one that failed because it was used heavily only 4 days a week and it starved the other 3 days.
Your septic system will build up it's own natural enzymes to liquefy waste. I really don't like using a treatment, you really have no idea what they are made of and how they are made.
Pump your septic system every 2 years.
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