I live in an area that used to be old riverbed. It is really sand soil. I want to plant a 10 x 10 garden. Do I need to do anything to the soil before I plant? If not then what type of veggies will grow well in this type of soil
Any root crop will grow well -Beets, carrots, parsnips.... But they also are moderate feeders so you should suppliment the sand with a good compost as sand has little nutrient value. Also a good layer of mulch will help the sand retain moisture and keep the weeds down. We also found that planting in "ditches" as opposed to raised beds helped the rows retain moisture and not dry up so quick.
Someone posted the tip on one of these forums recently to plant in bales. Line up some bales (preferably alfalfa, but anu good hay would do) and you've just about got a square-foot sized setup. Top them off with some manure, water and allow to rot down a few weeks (maybe as little as two) then plant in them. Just pull any unwanted seeds that germinate from the bale and drop them on top as a mulch. Rich, doesn't cost too much to setup, gives you raised beds with their advantages of handling, would get you highly fertile start-off while fertilising the area for next year as well. If water shortage was a problem you coild trench it out (or half out) and bury the bales to some extent,
giving me fits don !!!!!! using good hay !!!!! alfalfa....!!!!!! if i had good alfalfa hay i would not be feeding this low quality hay to me cows............. just a different view point...... :no: i have used old Very low quality hay as a heavy mulch hay that has been wet would work fine since it is going to be rotted anyway and would be much cheeper to obtain wood chips leaves most anything cheep and abundant would work with a little tweeking might want to look up Ruth Stouts old books for a few ideas too , i never have enough organic materials as a lot of the bio intensive people point out to me i loose a lot of volume by letting the cows eat/digest the materials but i look at that as concentrating the material and beaking it down to a plant usable form it gets broken down weather by a cow rumen or a compost pile............ or combination there of before the plant can use it the coarse visable organic material is only a small part or the total organic content of the soil for sandy soils some of the water polamers might help but there again the organic material can probably be found cheeper in the long run...Fukuru the writer of The one straw revelution advocated burying wood to raise organic levels but in a more tropic climate it would decompose fast and give him the benifits in the north it might be there for years...........
It doesn't take terribly many bales to cover the area of a productive square-foot garden. I'm going to have to think on this A LOT. It's been so very hot and dry this summer (which is what it is, here now) that it's been about impossible to get anything to grow. I might as well have made the richest possible garden, with a built-in mulch. Would only have cost ten or twenty dollars more, and we might have been able to get some vegetables.
Granted any hay with a bit of legume in it would have been all right, and it wouln't matter much if it had got mouldy.
About ten thousand years ago or so my homestead used to be the dune line of the Gulf of Mexico here in Florida. Sand is one that that DunHagan has in spades.
Mulch is your friend. The more of it the better. What I'd do is till in any finished compost, leaf mold, manure, or other similar organic matter you can find then plant. Once the plants are up mulch them with whatever mulch material you can find. Don't let the mulch get right up against the plant stems. A gap of a couple of inches between the mulch and the stem is good. Keep the mulch on year round. It'll save you a lot of water, slow down nutrient loss, and keep your garden from being as stressed as it would be otherwise.
River sand is basically devoid of microbial life. The river washed away most of the aerobic microbes and fungi and what was left died when the river dried up.
Compost is the best way to replenish the microbes but then you have to feed them. They eat sugar from plant roots and protein from dead things that might die there and fall on the surface. You can supplement protein with any ground up grain. I like corn meal, but whatever you can get cheap works. Ground up soy, mung, coffee (used, of course), rice, oat, flax, wheat, milo, alfalfa, cottonseed, or any other ground up seed, bean, or nut you can find works well. Ground feather, hair, and leather is also good and lasts a long time but take a long time to work. The application rate for all these is 10-20 pounds of meal per 1,000 square feet (5-10 kilos per 100 square meters).
Once you get the microbes well established in the sand, the sand will actually turn black and mucky, like great soil. But that won't happen unless you use an organic, protein based fertilizer. Synthetic fertilizers will guarantee that you maintain pure sand as long as you use it because they provide no protein for the microbes to grow.
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