People with wrong soils know how difficult it is to grow plants with poor soil quality. The sandy soils run out of water quickly and the soil lacks the nutrients that plants need to thrive. A few steps can help you improve your dry and sandy soils and grow a greater variety of plants in your garden. Let's dive into this topic and learn what sandy soil is and how you can improve it.
What is Sandy Soil?
Sandy soil has a large particle size and does not clump well. Source: Aaron Jacklin
Sandy soil is a type of soil that consists of tiny, fine particles that result from weathering, decomposition and fragmentation of rocks such as limestone, granite and quartz. This type of soil can be difficult to grow due to its low water and nutrient content. The large particles in the soil have no pockets for water and nutrients, and fertilizers or water flow easily through them or are lost through evaporation from the warm soil.
How do you know if you have sandy soil?
Sandy soil is easy to spot due to its grip and grainy texture.
To determine if you are working with sandy soil, you need to do a simple test. To do this, you need to take a handful of sand and moisten it. Then roll it in the shape of a sausage in your hand. If your soil is sandy, it will crumble and fall apart. You can see individual particles of the soil.
In contrast, clay or clay adhere much better. Clay floor sticks together and can be shaped just like the clay we play with as children. Silky floor has a smooth and fine texture and clumps, but easily disintegrates when pressed together.
In contrast to clay or silt, sandy soil quickly disintegrates during molding. It can keep its shape very short, but not for long. The particle size is just too big to stick together.
How to improve sandy soils
The topsoil is full of organic matter, including sandy soil. Source: Holy Outlaw
Sandy soil does not have enough organic compounds. Since they are only larger particles, the organic substance is required to store water and nutrients.
Work in many rich organic materials
You have to change the floor. The best way to do this is to incorporate compost or compost manure. It is dark, crumbly and sticks together and it retains water. Compost also contains many important nutrients for your plants in its organic material. When these organic substances are broken down, they slowly release them to the roots of your plant.
Composts from grass clippings, leaf mold, liquid manure, food waste and similar products improve the soil. By adding peat moss, coconut or vermiculite, sandy soils can also be changed. However, these additives only improve the moisture storage capacity of the soil. You do not address the lack of nutrients.
Apply 3 to 4 inches of well-processed compost or fertilizer to the surface of your gardens and landscape beds, and process it into the sandy soil.
Layer on the mulch
Compost can also act as a mulch, especially if it is a bulky compost with many larger pieces. Spreading a thick layer of compost on the soil slows down erosion and helps maintain soil moisture. It gradually decomposes and combines with your sandy material over time, falling deeper into the bed from the surface. Doing more to top it off not only provides nutrients and improves the soil, but also ensures that your plants are happy and your beds remain weed-free.
Grow cover crops
Another suitable source of organic matter is the cultivation of cover crops. Planting a cover crop reduces weed growth in your garden beds. Later cut the plant and let it decompose in the ground. Common summer crops are cow peas, pearl millet and buckwheat. In winter you can plant hairy vetch, mustard and purple clover. These crops are sown in bed and can be plowed into the ground as soon as they get close to flowering.
By incorporating them into your sandy soil, you incorporate more organic matter. It gets stuck on the water for you and becomes its own fertilizer when it decays. They also prevent erosion on the surface of your soil and the plant roots prevent soil compaction.
How to fertilize sandy soil
This field, prepared for planting, has a heavy sandy soil type. Source: agrilifetoday
Every soil type benefits from the regular application of fertilizer. However, sandy soils tend to have less ability to hold the nutrients you use. A granular, slow-release fertilizer is generally recommended for sandy soil types in order to continuously achieve low levels of fertilizer.
Before planting, you can work granular fertilizer through the soil. Once the plant grows, apply the fertilizers to the surface of the soil and scrape them in lightly.
How to water sandy soil
Because sandy soils drain excess moisture quickly, you may need to water them more often. Applying mulch to the surface also helps reduce water loss through evaporation. If you work peat moss or coconut into your sandy soil, it can of course absorb more water.
When the soil is completely dry, moisten it briefly and wait a few minutes for the water to penetrate through the sand particles. Then pour slowly and deeply with a drip hose or other drip irrigation method to ensure that the liquid can spread into the soil.
Maintain an irrigation frequency that meets the needs of your plants. Some plants require more than others, so there isn't a single method that works for everything!
Best vegetables for sandy soils
A young horseradish plant that develops well in a sandy soil type. Source: snaphappykate
Most root vegetables hate soil that is too moist. Although sandy soils are not generally popular, they are excellent for growing root vegetables. Carrots, beets, radishes, parsnips, potatoes and many other bulbous or deep-rooted vegetables love a sandy bed. These are not so good for clay because they prefer the light and loose texture of sandy soils.
Alliums like garlic, onions, and leeks also like the soil a bit loosely and sandy. This also applies to many herbs and spices, especially those grown in Mediterranean climates such as oregano, rosemary, etc.
Other fruits and vegetables also thrive on sandy soil. Regular watering with light may be required, perhaps even once a day, but performance is still admirable. Tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers, melons and even lettuce can easily be grown on sandy soils.
In the end, sandy soil is not a big disadvantage in the garden. In fact, many plants prefer it to the denser types of clay. But improving it to make it more productive is a wise choice for any gardener.
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