Growing veggies in sewage contaminated ground - how to do so safely?

We've moved into a property and I am looking to start my first veggie patch, but we discovered our sewage pipe has a small leak and so sewage water has been leaking out of a small hole, approx 8 foot from the veggie patch area and about 3 foot from our vine. Does this mean all produce will be contaminated? How can we make the area safe for growing again? Thanks in advance for any guidance.
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CluelessNewbie

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CluelessNewbie;916125 Wrote: > We've moved into a property and I am looking to start my first veggie > patch, but we discovered our sewage pipe has a small leak and so sewage > water has been leaking out of a small hole, approx 8 foot from the > veggie patch area and about 3 foot from our vine. Does this mean all > produce will be contaminated? How can we make the area safe for growing > again? Thanks in advance for any guidance.
Obviously you need to mend the leak in the pipe first. But having said that, soil bacteria will have broken down the sewerage within about 15 minutes of the stuff entering the soil. You are more likely to have problems with any detergent which might have been in the water than with the sewerage itself.
So, as long as the soil smells ok (and if it does not there is no mistaking the smell of bad soil!) then growing Veg will be no problem at all.
After all Night soil was used for many hundreds of years as a fertiliser and still is in many parts of the world.
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Owdboggy


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CluelessNewbie wrote:

It's probably fine. (you repaired it, right?) Just as a precaution, maybe don't grow potatoes, onions, or leeks, or leafies like spinach and lettuce (because you can never completely get those clean) for a year or two.
If any place actually smells nasty, that's where I'd plant corn, or maybe tomatoes.
-Bob
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http://www.mastergardenproducts.com/gardenerscorner/septic_drain_field_ga rdening.htm
http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-617/426-617.html
Vegetable Gardens and Drainage Fields Sometimes the ideal place to put a vegetable garden seems to be over the leach field, raising the question of bacterial and viral contamination from the effluent. Soils vary a great deal in their ability to filter viruses and bacteria. Clay soils work best, eliminating bacteria within a few inches of the drain trenches, but sandy soils may allow bacterial movement for several feet. A properly operating system will not contaminate the soil with disease-causing organisms, but it is very difficult to determine if a field is operating just as it should. If at all possible, use your septic drain field for ornamentals and plant your vegetables elsewhere. If you must plant vegetables, take the following precautions. Do not plant root crops over drain lines. Leafy vegetables could be contaminated by rain splashing soil onto the plant, so either mulch them to eliminate splashing or don't grow them. Fruiting crops are probably safe; train any vining ones such as cucumbers or tomatoes onto a support so that the fruit is off the ground. Thoroughly wash any produce from the garden before eating it. Do not construct raised beds over the field; they might inhibit evaporation of moisture. -------- http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/ho/2007/fs0732.pdf
Can I plant a vegetable garden over the leach field? It is tempting to consider placing a fruit or vegetable garden over the leach field, to take advantage of the extra moisture and nutrients provided by the in- ground effluent. However, it is not recommended that vegetable gardens be planted over leach fields due to potential health hazards and possible damage to the leach field itself. One of the greatest concerns when planting a garden over a leach field is the potential for contamination of soil and produce by disease- causing pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. Never plant root crops over the leach field. Pathogens can be expected to travel short distances through the soil, especially in sandy soils. Root crops, such as carrots and potatoes, that grow in the soil are the most likely to pick up contamination from the area above or downhill from the leach field. It is not possible to determine if a crop has been contaminated by its appearance. Leafy crops that grow close to the soil surface could also experience contamination from irrigation water splashed onto the foliage. The taller the crop, and the greater the distance from the ground, the lower the risk of contamination. Before proceeding with a vegetable garden over a leach field, consider a few other things. If you have a water softener, chances are your system adds salt to the septic system every time it regenerates. The salty effluent water released into the garden area could harm salt-sensitive plants, such as beans and peppers. You also need to consider the other household chemicals you use and their possible effect on plants and produce.
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- Billy
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CluelessNewbie wrote:

Once the leak is fixed the excess microbes will be gone from the soil within weeks. Unless your produce was in contact with sewerage it will not be contaminated and you can still wash it and cook it. 8 foot from the vege patch is unlikely to be a problem unless there was a flood, if the patch wasn't wetted by sewerage no great number of bugs (more than usual) would have got there. Keep in mind that your soil and the environment overall is full of potentially dangerous microorganisms yet we manage to not drop dead as we walk through the garden.
David
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