by April Reinhardt
(last updated December 25, 2015)
If you have sandy soil, then you probably already know that there are benefits and drawbacks when planting in it. Root plants, such as potatoes and carrots, flourish in sandy soil since the roots grow easily through the soil to the water and nutrients below. Digging in sandy soil requires less exertion since the soil is less dense than clay soils. Water definitely flows better through sandy soil, and sand also breaks down organic matter due to its abrasive nature. The organic matter is crucial to provide plant roots with nitrates and nutrition.
Yet there are a few disadvantages when gardening in sandy soil. While water penetrates the soil easily, sometimes too much water can filter through too fast, allowing the top part of the soil to dry too quickly. To counteract the problem, gardeners need to water quite frequently, and doing so risks washing away essential nutrients from the garden area. And to compensate for that problem, gardeners need to reapply nutrients during the growing season.
So, how do you garden in sandy soil and still grow flowers and food optimally? Basically, there are two things you can do—either amend the soil to keep the water and nutrients in the soil or choose to grow plants that are acclimated to sandy soil.
If you want to amend your sandy soil, add heavy elements to encourage the soil to bind. Start a compost heap and include bone meal, leaves, leftover vegetables, wood chips and bark, and tree and shrub limbs that have been cut into fine particles. Mix the manure with the compost material and add it to your sandy soil. These elements will help to enrich the ground, making the soil more dense and binding.
If you don't want to invest the time or energy to amend your soil, choose plants that will grow in sandy soil. Some of those plants are cacti, carrots, radishes, garlic, strawberries, blueberries, hostas, peppers, tomatoes, daylilies, iris, beetroot, parsnips, lettuce, new potatoes, and certain bean varieties.
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