Issue: June 3rd
Garden Over Septic Leach Field
Now that winter is over and I have moved my houseplants outside, I am having problems. Many of the leaves on my Ficus tree have fallen off. They turned white, then dried up and fell off. What happened?Answer:
You have described sunburn in Ficus. When plants which have been in a low light environment are moved into a brighter location, especially into direct sunlight, the leaves will blanch and die. This should not have killed the plant and new leaves should form fairly soon. However, if the plant is in full sunlight, move it to a shadier location.
If the light is bright in the new location, even though the plants are not in full sunlight, the leaves that develop will be adapted to high light intensity. That will be good until the plants are moved indoors for the winter. Then in the dimmer light of the indoor environment, the leaves will fall and a new set of leaves will have to be produced.
Garden Over Septic Leach FieldQuestion:
I have an open area over my septic leach field and want to plant a garden or orchard in that area. Is that a good idea?Answer:
In my opinion, it is not a good idea to plant either a garden (vegetables) or an orchard over the septic leach field. Although plants will not absorb human disease organisms through their roots, it is possible that disease organisms would be on the surface of the vegetables (roots, leaves, or fruit) and could cause disease.
Although there is little chance that the disease organisms would be on the surface of tree fruits, the problem with an orchard over the septic field is that of the tree roots clogging th drain lines. It is best to avoid planting trees too close to the leach field since their roots extend a long distance from the trunk, even if the trees are not directly over the leach field.
Perhaps it would be best to plant either a lawn or an ornamental garden of annuals and other flowers which do not have a deep root system over the leach field. This would preclude the use of edible plants or plants with a deep root system which could cause problems.Top of page
Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: email@example.com, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.
For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.
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