4 Alternatives To Planting A Garden Over Your Septic System

Do you want to plant a garden, but are worried about contamination from your septic system? If so, your concerns are definitely valid. Since your septic system is designed to process waste, it contains and releases harmful pathogens, like E. coli and giardia. These pathogens continually leach into the soil, which makes it unsafe to plant a dedicated food garden nearby. In addition, planting a garden over the septic system complicates the pumping and repair process needed at regular intervals from a place like Walters Septic. Here are a few ways to have your garden without worrying about its effects on the septic system used for your home.

Round Containers

Fruits and vegetables without a deep root system, like tomatoes and strawberries, thrive in round containers. You can pick up containers ranging from three inches to more than eighteen inches in diameter. You can even plant small trees, especially citrus, in large round pots.

Make sure the bottom of the pots contain large holes for adequate drainage. Place the pots on your patio or plastic tray to keep the roots from growing through the drainage holes and into the ground. You do not want your plants picking up groundwater that may contain contaminants from the septic system.

Portable Beds

If you want to grow plants with a wider footprint, such as cucumbers and kale, consider setting up rolling raised garden beds. Assemble the raised bed frames on top of a plywood platform to start. Add some wheels used for toolboxes or carts to make it easy to move from place to place. You can add four wheels or two with handles on the opposite side to move it like a wheelbarrow.

Despite their mobility, you should still place the carts far from the septic tank and leach field. Once you add the gravel, dirt and plants, the carts could weigh too much for the septic system components to support. You should never compact the dirt in the leach field or water could cease easily flowing through the soil there, resulting in backups. If you cannot find the boundaries of the leach field, talk to your septic technician to have the borders marked with stakes.

Hanging Planters

If you prefer to avoid placement issues and root growth worries, think about placing hanging planters around your roofline. You can easily grow peppers, celery and lettuce in the hanging planters due to their light weight and low need for space.

Do not try to grow plants that produce heavy fruits, like cantaloupe or watermelon, however. The weight of the growing fruit could tear it away from the stem or even damage your planters' hooks. When placing the hanging containers, make sure the plants will receive enough sunlight throughout the growing season to produce a large harvest. Remember to use bagged potting soil, not dirt from your yard, to keep contaminants at bay.

Indoor Retreat

The best way to keep your fruit and vegetable plants out of harm's way is by growing them inside. If you have the space, you can use metal halide or high-pressure sodium bulb setups to create an indoor greenhouse. You never need to worry about your plants coming into contact with soil and water blowing around outside during storms. As an added benefit, you will not have to share your harvests with birds, rabbits and deer that frequently ravage outdoor gardens.

Avoiding Contamination

No matter where you grow your crops, make sure to wash all of the harvested fruit and vegetables very well before consuming them. With pathogens regularly flowing through the environment, you can never be too safe.  Despite the risks, never use detergents on your harvests. Instead, simply rinse the fruit and vegetables under briskly running tap water for several minutes. For berries, you can soak the fruit in a bowl of water to let the contaminants rise to the top. Afterward, rinse the fruit off in a strainer and enjoy.