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Environmental Problems

Q.Vegetable Garden Over Cesspool?

Anonymous added on May 12, 2011 | Answered

How close may a vegetable garden be safely located to a cesspool from a health standpoint? Currently one side of our garden overlaps two cesspools by approximately four feet each. The original cesspool cover is approximately a foot below the surface and about eight feet or more deep below that, with a diameter of about eight feet and of foundation cement block construction, with three holes per block.

The second cesspool (overflow from first) is made of two precast concrete rings 4 feet high by 8 feet diameter each, and a dome with cover. The cover is about two feet below the surface and overall the cesspool is about 12 feet deep below the cover, counting the dome and two precast rings, each perforated with many holes slanted downward.

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Answered on May 13, 2011

Wow this is an interesting situation. It sounds like any of the waste water or septic fluid is quite a ways down in the ground. If it were me this is what I would do.... If possible add a good 6 to 12 inches of soil to these areas or the entire garden if possible. Don't plant deep root veggies in those areas like potatoes. If you put plants in that area that grow their veggies above ground like peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, I would think that you should be safe enough. Most of those that I named don't grow real deep roots so they should never come close to tapping into any potentially dangerous ground. You could also add alot of sand to your soil which is a natural filterer...and very good to keep your soil nice and loose. I add sand to all my flowerbeds. As a rule contaminants in the ground (other than oily types, deisil car oil etc) tend to sink rather than rise, I know that now a days we worry about ecoli contamination in our veggies but when I think back to life on the farm as a kid my dad fetilized our garden with raw manure from cattle...we had 2 garden spots. One was worked up for about 4 years with the raw manure and the other was planted & the two plots were rotated about every 4 years and we never got sick and had awesome gardens. The situation you have is not the same but I thought the info might ease your mind. If you are really afraid to plant in those spots you could also do a few containers with tomatoes and just set them on top as well as other container veggies...cucumbers do well in containers too. And you could plant flowers which will attract bees & hummingbirds & butterflies to your garden to help with polination of your other plants. Whatever you decide I wish you good luck. I am no expert on the situation I can only offer you my opinion.

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