planting veggies on land that was flooded

marandall(8b)March 9, 2007

Does anybody know about this? We live on the river and our yard flooded during Katrina. I planted tomatoes and a few herbs in a raised bed last year and they did OK, and we didn't get sick. Then I read what "ima diggin" wrote and now I am concerned about planting my little salad garden this year! In another post he/she wrote:

"Also, even if you don't think you'll ever flood, put your veggies, herbs and fruit trees in window boxes or planters so they can be moved before high water or floods. Once they are contaminated by flood waters, they can't be consumed. If the soil has ever been under flood water, it's best to consider it unfit for food production (think contaminated lettuce in California)."

How long would the land be contaminated and is there something I can do to my garden plot soil to make it safer? Should I just consider it OK since it was OK last year? Ima diggin are you out there? Anybody else know? Thanks!

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amyinms(9 coastal MS)

I havent harvested anything yet but we are 3 blocks from the beach and we(this property-we just got it a few months ago) got 4 feet of water. So far things we have transplanted are doing great the things that were here prior seemed to have absorbed the worst of it but so far so good my neighbor has taken lots of satsumas from his trees and had no ill effects (we ate some too and didnt get sick) and his winter garden did fine.

Do you live where you can take a soil sample to you local extension office and have it tested? I would guess it just all depends on your location and what you think may have contaminated the soil.

And not to downplay the seriousness of flooding in any given area or anyone elses opinion but in my case the plants would be the least of my worries. My parents home in a different state flooded several years ago and they grow a great garden every year with no ill effects

Amy in MS

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 10:10PM
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Thanks for the input, Amy. Last year when I planted the tomatoes, I never even thought about contamination. We live in Biloxi where the Tchoutacabouffa River empties into the Bay, so it was the storm surge that flooded our lot. I suppose the worst contamination comes from the sewage system that gets compromised in a flood. After the storm, the bacteria levels were very high, but I just assumed it went away after awhile. Anyway, we didn't get sick from the few tomatoes we grew. I did bring in a load of topsoil, so that probably helped too. I just thought I better ask after reading the OP. Welcome to the coast, where did you move from?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 11:17PM
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fliptx(Houston 9)

Besides bacteria, there may be chemical pollution issues, I'm not sure. In my area, some people had a little concern about petroleum residue or other pollutants from the streets being washed into our gardens during a couple of floods, but I grow in raised beds and containers. You're probably totally ok, but just to be on the safe side give your extension agent a call.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 9:05AM
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amyinms(9 coastal MS)

I spent the last couple years (seemed longer lol) in OK in a rural area. There they have lots of ground contamination from strip mining and abandoned oil wells so I didnt grow anything there but I have always heard that soils can cleanse itself through a natural filtering process. I know it cant with oil and petroleum based product but it will get rid of lots of other things. Bacteria can only live a certian length of time in most areas so personally I dont worry too much I might if I had a compromised immune system but I am fairly hardy :-) so I dont give it much thought

I moved to Long Beach in November of last year and I love it here! I love how friendly most people are in spite of all the challenges they have faced.

Hope your garden grows well!

Amy in MS

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 3:09PM
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There are probably very few places that have never flooded. So it's pretty safe to say that most, if not all, of what we eat is growing on land that was flooded at some point in time. Don't worry about it.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 6:41PM
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You know, I read something about the Tsunami back in 2005 and how they were really worried that it had ruined the farm land for these people living and farming there. The next year, they actually had bumper crops because the sea water had replenished the soil of lots of minerals.

I would worry though if I lived somewhere that there was alot of backup sewage, etc. My mom & dad live in Pascagoula and if it were just water the from Gulf, that would have been fine. But it was the sewage that was really the problem in their area.

But, if you do raised beds with fresh soil, then you wouldn't have to worry. So that could be an option for you if you are wanting to raise veggies to eat.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 12:10AM
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Consider this, most other countries use human waste to irrigate/fertilize their crops. Most stuff you buy out of season here comes from those areas.

Wash everything before you eat it.

And if you think those guys out picking the fruits and veggies here aren't taking a potty break behind the bushes think again.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 9:30PM
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stitches216(8/9 Hou-Galv)

I agree completely with Tally. Prior flooding, by itself, is not a "clincher" reason to avoid future produce.

Soil salinity might be a problem depending on whether floodwaters came from the Gulf or from runoff only.

If I was starting over in a Katrina zone, I would get a soil test from someone who could guarantee me they could and would check for things other than traces of sewage - like say, instead, traces of toxic petrochemicals.

Always have enjoyed driving across a particular bridge on one of the main roads, just to see the name of that river: Tchoutacabouffa. Makes me feel like I'm back in touch with the ancient, "other native American" part of my roots, even if the name is more French than anything.

Here is a link that might be useful: Katrina Toxix Concerns

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 11:15AM
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