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Michigan State University (MSU) Extension helps people improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses. For more than 100 years, MSU Extension has helped grow Michigan’s economy by equipping Michigan residents with the information that they need to do their jobs better, raise healthy and safe families, build their communities and empower our children to dream of a successful future.

(This group currently has 5 experts available to answer questions)

Questions asked to this group


I have mushrooms taking over the front yard. There are no trees but use to be years ago. How can I get rid of them??

Genesee County MI Posted about 2 hours ago

Problems with the cabbage family

Trying to start cabbage,broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables in the cabbage family in my greenhouse to plant out when the weather warms.The problem I been having is the seeding slowly start to fade from dark green to light green then slowly yellow around the edges then dry up and die. Been using bagged potting soil and new flats. Replanted and tried to spray my seedlings with a fungicide but still have the same results. Everything else in the greenhouse is growing good. Just wondering what else I can try and what might been wrong with may plants ?

Delta County MI Posted about 13 hours ago

Trying to identify this perennial in my garden.

I would love to know which perennial this is in my current garden so that I can get more!! It has started coming out of the ground now and gets bigger every year (currently about 3" tall). It produces hardy flowers throughout the late spring until late October. I cut it to the ground after it completely wilts around the first hard frost. Thanks in advance!!!

Kent County MI Posted about 13 hours ago

Invasive ivy weed

How do I kill this weed? It's taking over my perennial bed/mulch. It has been around 1-2 seasons.

Macomb County MI weed identification Posted about 15 hours ago

White Pine

I have a small grove of 20 White Pines, they are around 30 ft tall. One of the pines's needles turned brown, and it died last year. I noticed these holes all along the trunk (everywhere along the trunk), and am wondering if they are from insects, to perhaps woodpeckers looking for insects? I don't see any holes in the pines next to this one, are they at risk for the same thing happening? Thanks for your help.

Washtenaw County MI trees and shrubs Posted about 15 hours ago

What is this perennial plant that smells like spinach Or lettuce

Growing in my yard every year an in increased patches.

Oakland County Michigan plant identification Posted about 19 hours ago

Weed or perennial

What is this plant?

Calhoun County Michigan Posted about 21 hours ago

Beech trees

Hi i live in Holland Mi. and I have heard there is a Beech tree disease that is coming or here. I have some old beech trees that I would love to protect is there anything to do that thanks Alicia

Allegan County Michigan Posted 2 days ago

What is this tree and what is its purpose to ecosystem

Just looking to see if we should leave them or remove for a compost pile

Emmet County Michigan trees and shrubs Posted 3 days ago

Safety concerns for raised beds and orchards on a property with a septic field

I’m looking into a house currently that looks perfect for a big garden and lots of fruit trees, but I’m concerned about the placement of its septic system and that system’s effect on the safety of those crops. I was hoping you could help give me some solid answers regarding what to do to keep my crops safe to eat.

I know terrain can be an important factor, so let me give some information about the septic drain field and the property. It is a square 2.5 acre lot (about 340x340ft) with the house near the center of the property. The property is sloped, with the highest part to the North, having lost maybe 10-15 feet in height by the time you get to the South property line. The soil is apparently predominantly Morley loam (a well-drained clay-loam soil). The septic field is a conventional bed, situated about 100 ft North-Northwest from the house (please see attached The field sits slightly lower than the house, but higher than the land on the sides of the house and to the South.

I have some specific safety questions:

  1. Regarding orchards, I am aware of the guideline of planting a fruit tree a distance equal to 1.5 times its mature height away from the septic drain field to ensure the roots don’t interfere with the field, but would that distance also be sufficient to protect the fruits from any effluent contamination as well?

  2. Regarding vegetables, I know not to plant any crops (or trees) on top of or in close proximity to a drainage field, but what is the minimum distance I should keep raised beds from the drainage field to ensure no contamination can occur?

  3. What sort of parameters should I apply to things like shrubs and cane fruits when distancing crops from the drainage field?

I have some general safety questions:

  1. Since the drainage field is still situated higher than most of the land on the property, do I need to be concerned about effluent somehow making its way downhill through the soil to places where I do plant? Should I add additional distance from the field to raised beds or trees downhill? If so, how do I determine the necessary added distance?

  2. With this conventional septic field, do I need to be concerned about evaporative and/or wind-based contamination of my crops if planting at any minimum distances you would suggest?

  3. Some of the fruits I hope to grow I would use for fermentation into alcoholic beverages (e.g. hard cider). Would this fermentation process destroy any bacterial or viral contaminants on/in the fruit?

  4. I assume cooking any produce (e.g. canning, baking, steaming, etc.) would kill any pathogens regardless?

Thank you so much in advance for your help. I’ve been looking for a place to ‘set down roots’ for a long time, and I want to make sure the property I buy will allow me to grow what I want safely.


Washtenaw County Michigan Posted 4 days ago