Ask a Question forum: edible parental plants for sandy soil

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Name: J.P. McCain
Mobile, AL (Zone 8b)
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jimmiemcca
Mar 5, 2016 8:45 PM CST
Hi I live in south Alabama we have high humidity but the soil is sandy (I've tried to amend for years ) so everything gets dry quick with the heat. I have a 40x40 area of raised beds that I have put my heart and fortune into. I want to start a parental vegetable and edible flower garden, Any suggestions on plants or soil amending is great.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 5, 2016 9:21 PM CST
Hi JP! Welcome to ATP Welcome!

What is a parental vegetable and edible flower garden? I think I am stuck at parental vegetable. I can think of a lot of edible flowers. Confused

I live in the high desert where humidity is a foreign concept but sand is a reality. I just amend the spot I want to plant something in, add a drip line and I am good to go. As you have a raised bed, I assume that means you have added decent soil and are just dealing with humidity. Still not sure what you are asking...

Daisy
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 5, 2016 9:33 PM CST
Hi Jimmie and welcome to ATP. First, a question - what do you mean by "edible parental plants"? Do you mean perennial, maybe? Plants that live more than one season?

I am in central Florida on the West Coast so we have relatively similar climates except you probably have a bit more cold weather than we do. We also have nothing but sand to garden in, so yes, amending soil is a "way of life" here. You can't just do it once, either, it is an ongoing thing because the organic materials you add to enrich and help hold moisture in your sand break down in the high heat, humidity and heavy rains we get for half the year. So you need to amend at least each year.

We have a terrific composting program at our County landfill and the compost they make is excellent and free. But you have to go and fetch it yourself (or cajole somebody with a truck . . ). So my first advice would be to see if your County has compost, and find out how to get it. Plan to get some every year going forward, because a 40ft. area of raised beds will use a pickup load of compost, or maybe even two each year!

The next (but expensive) option is to buy compost or organic amendments of some sort. If there are horse farms anywhere near you, the stable sweepings and manure is great, although you might not be able to plant right away after adding it to your beds. Manure can be high in salts, and also release a lot of nitrogen very quickly, so letting it sit for a couple of weeks after you dig it in, plus watering it if there's no rain is best. Pine bark fines are also a good amendment, although not quite as beneficial as compost or manure and straw.

As far as what to plant, well once you amend your beds, you should be able to grow nearly anything you like. That's the key, to grow stuff you like! Sure as a gun if you plant some veggie that you're not all that fond of, it will be the one that produces a bumper crop every year.

It might be a bit late in the spring to plant the cool season stuff like lettuce, other salad greens, peas and things in the cabbage family but you can plant them in the fall and still get a good crop before frost - don't we know that the first cold weather was SO late this year!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: J.P. McCain
Mobile, AL (Zone 8b)
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jimmiemcca
Mar 6, 2016 6:32 PM CST
Hi I miss spelled pernnials my mistake and spell check didn't understand either. I do amend and like u said it is on going. No county compost here. Used to pick up leaves in the city but can't do that any more so i need to cut down on the physical effort these days so l'm trying to find plants that are more native to my soil and climate. And low maintance. This was my last winter garden. I so enjoy all the vegetables. Alas days gone by for me now. Thank u all (-:
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 6, 2016 7:06 PM CST
In that case, Jimmie, have you looked at using Earth Boxes? Once you set them up, all you need to do is make sure they get enough water. You put in soil, fertilizer and maybe dolomite, moisten, plant, cover and then just water. Mine are on micro-irrigation on a timer so I don't even worry about watering.

I have a large raised bed, but like you, don't have a lot of energy for amending any more. So all my winter veggies are now grown in Earth Boxes. I get better yields each year from them than I ever did growing in the ground or raised beds.

Other than shrub or tree fruits, I can't think of another perennial edible plant offhand. Pomegranates are beautiful, and have nice nutritious fruits. Not sure if they would be hardy for you.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Mar 6, 2016 7:36 PM CST
What about asparagus? If you like it, it's very easy to grow and we used to have it in your zone.
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 6, 2016 7:40 PM CST
Hm, good thought Karen but I'm not sure it will get enough winter chilling in Mobile AL. I know I can't grow it here because we don't get cold enough.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Garden Art
Plumerias Hibiscus Houseplants Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Dog Lover Cat Lover
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plantmanager
Mar 6, 2016 7:55 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:Hm, good thought Karen but I'm not sure it will get enough winter chilling in Mobile AL. I know I can't grow it here because we don't get cold enough.


I'm afraid you're right. I was 7b and mis-read the zone as that, and not 8b.

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Name: Jim D
East Central Indiana (Zone 5b)
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jimard8
Mar 6, 2016 8:30 PM CST
Kale might be a choice in partial shade maybe , Onions are perennial Some do better in some zones than others ,
Burdock , Lamb's quarter's both considered a weed are a tea or young leaves ,
A few Basil are perennial ,
Wild Garlic .
Perhaps a Blueberry in a large pot ?
I would not know the Natives there , Although it is interesting , Looking at the Forage type plants of your state might be an idea ,

You might try this in your browser , if it works here ? you can from here ?
http://www.ediblewildplants.com/

Purslane is another , good for you also ,. Grows everywhere on the planet , Likes the heat so well it rarely shows up before July here ,
In the Butterfly garden if a plant is not chewed up I feel like a failure
[Last edited by jimard8 - Mar 6, 2016 8:48 PM (+)]
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Mar 6, 2016 9:06 PM CST
Mobile is more than likely zone 9, not 8. I am in 8 and am 300 miles north of Mobile. When we are in the low 20's (too often), Mobile will be in the mid to low 30's. I lived in Pascagoula, MS, for 25 years, only 40 miles due west of Mobile.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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purslanegarden
Mar 7, 2016 11:11 AM CST

I don't understand that you have said you use raised beds but also grow in the soil in your yard? Perhaps you mean you have delineated some sections for growing but are still growing in the soil itself. Can you add other soil to the raised bed and grow in that? (Example: your raised bed is 6" high so you add 4" of your preferred soil mix to the bed, and grow in that)

If not, then just keep composting and adding in to the soil. It can take years but you can surely convert the soil. If you don't have as much materials for a compost pile, you can still achieve some success by using trench composting whenever you do have some small bag's worth of fruit or veggie scraps.

Some plants that should do well in that soil are
1) aloe vera (might have to bring it in for the winter)
2) green onions
3) rosemary
4) purslane
5) salvias
6) canna lilies (it is also edible although many grow it for the flowers)
Name: J.P. McCain
Mobile, AL (Zone 8b)
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jimmiemcca
Mar 8, 2016 1:19 PM CST
thank for all the info. I seem to be on the same page with you all. I have just found out about earth boxes and am looking at them strongly. Thanks again for the good ideas.
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
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Kabby
Mar 8, 2016 2:00 PM CST
Just wanted to Welcome! fellow Alabamian J.P. and I have nothing to say because my soil is sandy also. Except for the side of the yard that is pure clay. I have the river to thank for these soil conditions. Blinking
Welcome! to purselanegarden too!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 8, 2016 6:29 PM CST
Kabby, do you ever wheelbarrow soil back and forth between the two sides of your yard? Or hire some kids to do it?

Having sand NEAR clay gives you an option that almost no one else does: make the top 8-12 inches 50-50 sand and clay, giving you sandy clay ...

... if you can move 3 cubic feet of sand and clay from one side of the yard to the other,
per square yard of garden. That gives you a 4" deep layer of clay over sand (or sand over clay), before tilling it in with added compost or other organic matter.

If you have ANY silt in your soils, that would give you clay loam or sandy loam in the top 8-12 inches.

If you have a 6 cubic foot wheelbarrow, each round trip would amend 4 square yards (2 square yards on each side of your yard).

A lot of work ... but might make some great soil.
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
Butterflies Tropicals Bulbs Lilies Daylilies Garden Procrastinator
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Kabby
Mar 8, 2016 8:03 PM CST
Holy cow Rick what do you do for a living? Blinking Blinking
Our last major flood in 1990 left 3 ft of sand over most of the yard. One section was pure mud, the clay side. I'm sure there is some silt mixed in.
I garden mostly on the sandy side which definitely has been amended amended amended. Before I did flower gardening I had a veggie garden. Root crops like potatoes and onions adored this soil. Other things were"ok." I couldn't figure out back then why my tomato plants were a pale green despite fertilizer. They needed lime. Acidic loving plants also thrive.
On my clay side I was going to plant tulips. I had read not to mix sand with clay, that it would set up like concrete. Confused I take it that's not true. Anyway I dug down 8 inches and amended with compost and planted the bulbs. They are putting on a great display right now.
I appreciate your excellent instructions. I needed you in '95 when I started gardening though! Whistling
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 8, 2016 8:49 PM CST
Kabby said: ...Our last major flood in 1990 left 3 ft of sand over most of the yard. One section was pure mud, the clay side. I'm sure there is some silt mixed in. ...


Wow, that's like the Nile Valley where floods drop new topsoil every year!

Kabby said: ... I had read not to mix sand with clay, that it would set up like concrete. Confused I take it that's not true. ...


Many people say that, but I didn't find it to be true.

Clay with insufficient compost or organic matter sets up like concrete. The sand doesn't hurt any in that case, and it can't help very much.

In my garden, sand and crushed rock and other gritty amendments like screened bark have always helped clay (with added compost). But clay needs compost! Lots!

To see much improvement from sand, first the clay needs almost as much compost as it really needs, and then quite a bit of sand, like 20% or more. 50% would be great. 70% sand might be even better.

Since most people CAN'T buy or carry that much sand, it got a bad rap from people who did not add enough sand OR enough compost.

But look at "The Soil Triangle". Clay plus 50% sand is sandy clay.
Clay plus 70% sand is sandy clay loam. Those ain't concrete.

But the soil triangle doesn't mention organic matter, it is only about "texture".
Even more than every other soil type, clay needs organic matter.




purslanegarden
Mar 9, 2016 9:55 AM CST

If you are now looking into earthboxes, Home Depot and Lowes sells some similar boxes for about $30. It uses roughly the same quantity of soil, even though the shapes are slightly different.

Or if you or someone else you know wants to make them DIY for you, then there are instructions on sites like Youtube also, so it will be even less expensive than $30.




Name: J.P. McCain
Mobile, AL (Zone 8b)
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jimmiemcca
Mar 9, 2016 3:52 PM CST
Thanks for the great ideas. I'm so glad to have found the site I'll post any success I have (-:
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Mar 9, 2016 4:10 PM CST
Thanks for coming back and letting us know how it goes.

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