I am also interested in distance between leach line and edibles. Also, are there good plants to put near the leach line?
I hope to get this book soon because I am an urban, edible landscaper, wanna be permaculturist, with hugelkulture in my front yard and a farm and freeway in the backyard. 1/3 acre lot.
Hopefully, Michael Judd will have some advice about dealing with septic leach fields. My "peri-urban" 2 acres is mostly woods. The only significant sunny spot is a small lawn for the leach field. I'm nervous about planting food crops on it for a few reasons: (1) not sure the leach liquid is healthy for food crops, (2) the roots of food trees might clog the leach lines, (3) adding soil on top of the leach field (raised beds for example) might counteract the leaching effect. Consequently, currently the area is what is euphemistically called a "country lawn" a.k.a. a bunch of weeds I mow every week in the summer. Suggestions?
It really depends on the amount of soil contact that the "edible" will have. You could have fruit trees on either side of the leach line and that would be no problem. A little more problematic would be bushes with fruits (tomatoes fit in that category), then fruits that lay on the ground (melons), then leafy greens growing in the ground, until you get to the most problematic of all, root vegetables. You don't want to be eating turnips from on top of a septic field (although i doubt you could taste the difference). If you have to be planting root vegetables downstream of a leach field, you had better put in a swale about a foot deep and fill it with wood chips or leaf litter. The fungal activity in the decaying vegetation will act like the Iron Curtain keeping out the decadent influence of the septic tank effluent.
We live in a desert, and there is currently zero living vegetation within 40' in any direction of the leach. No sign of moisture. Weeds grow after rain, but die in the summer heat, so it doesn't even leave moisture close enough to the surface to keep weeds or other natives alive. I can just avoid this area. I just need to know how far. The well is about 50' from the leach. We actually have to look at the plans to locate it, and also to see how deep the exit pipe is. Anyone have any leach line links?
Jeremy Gragston wrote:We live in a desert, and there is currently zero living vegetation within 40' in any direction of the leach. No sign of moisture. Weeds grow after rain, but die in the summer heat,
Reminds me of the lot I lived on in Las Vegas. In those conditions you can be pretty sure that the leach is not moving laterally, it is confined to where the leach field pipes are. Studies of groundwater movement in the Mojave desert have shown that the predominant direction is UP. That's right, it's so arid that most of the ground water is going up and evaporating than traveling laterally.
My raised bed garden swales are over a leach field. I dug out my paths only 4-6" deep, flipped the soil to create a bed and added municipal leaf compost to get a nice fat 8" raised bed which puts me at least 16" above the drainage.
Two main things I keep in mind are using shallow rooted perennials and harvest fruits not leaves or roots. For example I grow blueberries and okra. I also utilize the beds to grow out nursery stock for grafting etc. Create beds there and I guarantee you will find plenty to fill them in with, edible and other.
If there are any metals in the field that a plant can reach it will hold them its mass, not the fruit. Deep roots could jam up the drainage tiles. Stick with small bush fruits like gooseberry, currants, blueberry, honey berry, raspberry, etc..
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