One and a half years ago I bought a house in Virginia. I had to put tick killer on the lawn, which is more dirt and scrub. My question is, can I plant a vegetable garden in this area? Do the chemicals stay in the ground a long time, and will the food be safe to eat?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Steve in Virginia: The answer to your question really depends on what you applied to the grass to kill the ticks. The most common products on the market for homeowners to use for getting rid of these insects contain the active ingredient permethrin. This insecticide has an average half-life of 39.5 days in an aerobic soil and one to three weeks on plant foliage, so if this is what you used you would be fine to plant a vegetable garden with no worries. Different chemicals have different absorption rates and some can remain in the soil for years after initial application. Thankfully, most of these products are not available to the home gardener. If you remember the product that you applied I can be more specific in terms of soil absorption rates and residual effects.