Plants and sewage

Graham Harden G.Harden at
Tue Sep 1 00:40:29 EST 1998

Every public health authority has different standards and opinions.  HOwever
the following basic principles are generally true.

1) If your waste system (ie septic, fermenter etc.) is working well then
there should not be any difficulty with pathogenic viruses or bacteria.
Unfortunately many septic systems and wet digestors are actually quite
difficult to run effectively (regardless of appearances).  As a result and
due to their reduction of water use, I favour dry composters myself.

 If you don't have a digestor of some type, you are probably in violation of
local building codes and should not use any such water on areas that you
would even come in contact with let alone grow crops on.

2)  If you have a good sewerage system, then most plant products are fine.
If there is even the smallest doubt, then most are still OK if you wash the
outside with Iodine prior to eating, except the Cucurbits eg Pumpkin,
squash, zucchini etc, as these are able to take up large viruses an bacteria
into their stems and fruit.

3) "Grey" water from washing etc. (but not toilets) might be distributed but
will contatin some pathogens.  Try to keep such water from reaching the
surface, and thus avoid external contamination of produce.  Wash well and
avoid curcurbits.  You can eliminate most nasties by passing water through
bilogically active soil, but such systems should be designed by a
professional and should be placed well before reticulation takes it near
plants.  If you rely entirely on the path upward from the pipe to the root
through soil, then you might find that under pressure or after blockage it
will move through direct pathways to the surface and hence not be properly

>We live in country Australia and the sewage system for our house
>disperses via underground pipes across a 70 meter pipe matrix
>buried about 1 metre below ground level. My wife wants to start a
>vegetable garden on the site of the above matrix, my question is, is
>there any danger of the vegetables carrying harmful bacteria (or
>whatever) from the sewage?
>Thanks in advance,
>PS. I've had to post from Deja News because although my news server
>can see this group it won't let me post to it!
>Any e-mail replies can be sent to <jim at>
>-----== Posted via Deja News, The Leader in Internet Discussion ==-----
>   Create Your Own Free Member Forum

More information about the Plantbio mailing list