Sandy Soil - Knowledgebase Question

Marstons Mills, MA
Avatar for capecodstr
Question by capecodstr
December 11, 1997
I want to grow a vegetable garden this coming spring (tomatoes, herbs, sunflowers, peppers, and pumpkins). I have never planted in extremely sandy soil. How can I prepare the soil this late in the winter? I fear that there aren't enough nutrients andthat the sand will not retain any moisture. Any suggestions?

Answer from NGA
December 11, 1997
The first thing is (as I'm sure you have discovered by now...) it's too late in the year to do anything with the soil as far as amending it is concerned! There are a few things you should do however.

First and foremost is to get a soil test done at your local University Cooperative Extension office. They will test the soil and send you the results with complete suggestions and directions for properly amending the soil. Tell them what it is that you plan on planting there.

Next, regardless of what the soil test shows, you need to add some compost or other organic matter to the soil. That will give it some substance and will stop the water from just running through. It will also help hold and supply nutrients to that sandy soil. Do this EVERY year that you garden there. It will never be too much!

If you don't have a compost bin or any access to compost, start your own, so you can add to it and have your own "amending supplies", giving you the ability to add more compost with no expense!

Next spring, several weeks before you plan to start planting, till the garden area. Add some compost and/or leaves, grass clippings and well-rotted manure, tilling them into the soil. Also till in lime if the soil test recommends it.

Use grass clippings from the lawn as mulch around your vegetables--as long as you haven't used any kind of herbicide on the grass. That wouldn't be too helpful!!! Mulching plants like this will help conserve moisture and provide some nutrients as the mulch breaks down.

This should get you started in the right direction.

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