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Drain field and vegetable garden

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Foghorn
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 21 Lake Anna, VA
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2002-11-26          45419


The guy I had come out to see if my unimproved property perked told me that putting a vegetable garden over a drain field does not pose a health hazard. Two questions: Does any one know if this is true? and would the weight of a tractor(w/ FEL, tiller, and me) which weighs about 2700-2800lbs be too much for the drain field(the drain field is about 6 years old)?

Thanks - Tom (aka: Foghorn)

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Drain field and vegetable garden

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2002-11-26          45420


Tom, weight is not the issue, per se, it is more a function of pounds per square inch loading.

As to the suitability for human consumption, it didn't kill any of my ancestors, and there is an old saying in our family, 'the tomatoes always grow bigger over the septic field.'

I guess it's like a woman's beauty, it's 'in the eye of the beholder', and if you want to be holdin' her.

Best of luck. ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2002-11-27          45436


I put the same question to our district health officer several years ago. He couldn't find any rules but thought that my 50' from a leeching pit and further from the field itself should be OK. The government here is rule happy so I guess if there was much of a risk there'd be a rule for it.

I think the basic idea is that effluent moves out and down purifying itself as it goes and it already start out several feet down. Mind you I don't think I'd want to grow root crops over a field that was subject to backing up or overflowing. A few winters ago our toilet flapper valve stuck open when we were out for the day. The next spring there was indication that quite a bit of water had run underneath the snow. I guess that would be water of unknown quality. The few times I've been around a field that was leaking into surface drainage, the drainage hasn't smelled great.
....

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Drain field and vegetable garden

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ruffpa
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3 iowa
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2002-12-02          45622


I just put in a new drain field and asked the county health department about using the area for a garden/orchard. (plant the trees/ grape vines between the leach field lines) he said that it should be no problem, in fact the trees will actually increase the capacity of the drain field, and the "nutritional value" of the leachate will help the trees.
My new drainfield uses an open bottom plastic dome (the roots cannot plug the lines), so next spring I am planting some trees and moving my garden over the drainfield.
FYI I am located in east central iowa. ....

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Drain field and vegetable garden

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2002-12-02          45625


In Ont. they have rethought and tested the way the drain field functions. From what I heard they determined that mosssssst of the water from the field was removed through plant up take and evaporation.
This pertains to placing the field on a rock pile next to a lake. They determine that you could place the right soil in an area and remove the water.
Each has its own view in KY I had to move the field 1500 ft from the house as he did not like the feel of the soil despite the fact it perked fine. ....

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 5111 Northern Nevada
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2002-12-02          45627


I think plant roots have very effective membranes to filter bacteria (which is present in all soil anyway) and the pyrogenic waste products the bacteria produce.

I would be real carefull not to add heavy metal root killing solutions to the septic as some plants will certainly take some of that into the roots, and I would carefully read the labels on the other enzyme type additives, or just not use them at all. ....

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Foghorn
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 21 Lake Anna, VA
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2002-12-02          45633


A little off topic but since I started the post I guess it's ok -- I'm really confussed now about whether or not to use additives in my system. The system I have pumps the water from the holding tank up into the drain field. We had a float stick which in turn burned up the pump. I say all this because when the guy came out to replace the pump he said the system was working good because there was no solid waste, just liquid, coming from the holding tank. In another post there was a lot of debate as to use or not use additives, and to pump or not pump out the holding tank. I've been using additives and so far they seem to be working. I've been told that I shouldn't waste my money on the additives but just use "bread" yeast. Any comments as to whether bread yeast actually works and if so how much and how often should it be added; I have a 1000g system. If bread yeast works, I would imagine it would be the safest and cheapest! ....

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Drain field and vegetable garden

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ruffpa
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3 iowa
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2002-12-02          45635


what I have been told (by the county health dept neighbor of mine) is to save you money on the addatives and if your system needs help, get some milk let it go sour (open it and leave it on the countertop for a week (until it smells) then dump it down the toilet and flush. heck of a lot cheaper than the store purchased additives. ....

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MRETHICS
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 190 Star City, Indiana
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2002-12-02          45636


I doubt if putting a garden over your drain field will harm you in any way. In some cases, certain plants are placed in such this aramgment to improve the efficiency of the leach field.

However, when dealing in such issues, there is alot of variables. The type of leach field used may effect your decision.

Myself, I don't think I would put my garden over one. In the future, there could be a failure that would require you to dig down and do some work, such as add sand or gravel..

If your garden is there.....wellll...you just lost your greenbeans crop if the timeing was wrong.

Always remember, what works today, may put up with no crap latter. I've bee through this before.
....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2002-12-03          45660


I'm curious about the recommendation for trees around a leech field. I always thought you didn't want trees around because the roots tend to grow into the drain tiles and clog the system. Maybe that's just some kinds of trees--willows for example.

The rap on additives I've heard is that some can do some real damage if used excessively when trying to cure a backed up system. The idea is that if a leech field is running too slow and a tank is pretty full of undigested material, then partially liquidifying the tank contents so a lot of goes out goes out into the leech field may make things worse. Some past comments here said that material has bubbled out of vents and leech fields had to be replaced due to excessive use of additives, yeast etc. The stuff that's advertised as 'cleans your septic tank' seems like an oxymoron. I don't think that cleaning one is the idea.
....

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Ravenn
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11 Minnesota
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2003-03-16          51308


The less that you compact the ground on your septic system drainfield, the better. Properly operating drainfields depend on both filtering thru the soil and evaporation close to the surface. Soil compaction from driving on the drainfield (even though you are working the soil) can only hurt the performance. ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2014-06-27          190549


vanfleet1, go to have you here. Please note the last post before yours was 11 years ago. Still a very good thread.

Did not notice this in the thread but what would be the difference of planting over leach lines and fields with manure spread over them? Not talking about possible damage to the lines from tractor on them, the chemical or health issues. kt ....

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Drain field and vegetable garden

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harvey
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 1539 Moravia, NY
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2014-07-04          190628


I don't think planting over the field has any issues "EXCEPT" soil preparation. You would have to be very careful not to disturb the filters above the stone. Doing that would allow silt into the leach bed and that would cause some problems down the road.

Many places use all types of "FERTILIZER" including human, cow, horse and others. I think I'd like to at least see it composted for a year before I use it. ....

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