do all vegetables like sandy soil?

kawaiineko_gardener(5a)April 29, 2011

NOTE: I realize some may say why don't you post this in container gardening. It's really not about container gardening, but rather what type of soil vegetables in general grow best in. This is preemptive. The only reference to container gardening is the soil mixture I use for container gardening.......and as I just stated, it's only there as a reference.

When I say sandy soil, I'm NOT referring to the kind that is nutrient poor, and doesn't drain well; I'm referring to sandy loam.

If the sandy soil mixture has everything you'd look for in a soil (it drains well, is nutrient rich, and isn't too loose, nor is it too compact, etc.) do all vegetables grow well in sandy soil?

The reason I ask is because I do container gardening and make my own soil mixture; it's a combination of fine bark pine mulch, spaghnum peat moss, vermiculite, lime, sand and a time released dry fertilizer. Currently it's being used for root veggies and spinach,because supposedly they

love sandy soil.

However I'm wondering if it will work for the veggies I plan to grow this summer? These are beans, peppers, melons,squash, tomatoes, eggplant and possibly okra.

I have very little experience growing beans; with bell peppers and eggplant, I've never managed to be able to grow them to maturity. Squash I attempted to grow but was unsuccessful due to pollination issues and overcrowding (putting too many plants in too small of a container).

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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

My garden soil is a sandy loam even though I usually just call it sandy. I've been adding lots of compost, mulching heavily and growing cover crops during the cold season. After 4 years of this it's starting to feel like good garden soil.

kawaiineko_gardener said "However I'm wondering if it will work for the veggies I plan to grow this summer? These are beans, peppers, melons,squash, tomatoes, eggplant and possibly okra."

All of those should grow well for you in sandy loam as they do for me. One thing to watch for is maintaining even soil moisture. Mulch helps quite a bit plus having a moisture meter is extremely handy.

Greg

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 5:47PM
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kawaiineko_gardener(5a)

Look I'm not using a soil mixture that is entirely made of sand. With the exception of sand it's not even a soil; it's a soilless mixture. Even if I didn't add sand to my soil mixture, and even if I used perlite in place of
the vermiculite, soil retention is always going to be a challenge for container gardening.

I wouldn't deliberately use a soil mixture that doesn't work (as in plants die, poor or no harvests, etc.) I use the soil mixture that people suggest in the container gardening forum (it's called Al's Mix) because it works. I'm not just saying that because people have raved about it, I'm speaking from past experience in using it myself.

With what you've said it's coming off to me, that you're under this assumption that I'm using a sandy soil mixture that is nutrient poor.

The reason I mix lime and the fertilizer into it is to amend my soil mixture. I'm not just randomnly dumping soil from the ground into my containers and using that as my soil mixture. I've tried using soil you'd typically find in a plot, or on the ground, and it didn't work at all.

I'm using vermiculite because that is what the soilless mixture calls for. Since you put holes in the bottom of your container for irrigation,
any soil mixture in it is going to go out of the bottom of the container.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 6:02PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

I can't think of anything that won't grow in sand. Especially if a lot of organic matter has been added.

The only thing is that you have to keep a close eye on moisture if the soil drains quickly. But I'd rather water more often than to have roots rotting in a mud puddle that won't drain.

I grow a lot of things in a sand compost mix. I've never had any problem with it. I use it to start my seedlings and I use it in raised beds.

My native soil is a volcanic pumice and it grows stuff like magic, even without having anything added to it.

The only caveat I have for sand is to be sure it isn't salty, like beach sand.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 6:17PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

No, most vegetables do not like sandy soil. Sandy soil cannot have "everything you'd look for in a soil (drains well, is nutrient rich, and isn't too loose, nor is it too compact, etc." It would be deficient in organic matter, drain too quickly and so lose nutrients quickly, and be mineral poor.

If you do some reading on the Soil & Compost forum you find many people working very hard to "fix" their sandy soil so stuff will grow in it.

The reason I ask is because I do container gardening and make my own soil mixture; it's a combination of fine bark pine mulch, spaghnum peat moss, vermiculite, lime, sand and a time released dry fertilizer. Currently it's being used for root veggies and spinach,because supposedly they
love sandy soil.

Don't know where this mix recipe comes from. If it is from the Container forum here then you need to take it up with them. But I sure wouldn't use sand in containers? Containers have enough trouble retaining nutrients. Not to mention that the sand is just going to wash out of the containers. And given all the health risks associated with vermiculite most professional growers gave up using it several years ago and switched to perlite.

Believe it or not thousands of us successfully grow root vegetables in containers annually with out a spec of sand or vermiculite.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 6:28PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Soil retention isn't a problem with container gardening. Water and nutrient retention is the problem. And sand in a container mix only compounds that problem. But I never suggested that you should use garden dirt in a container. Do you think Al's Mix is the only other option?

And yes I am well aware of what is called Al's Mix, that it is unique to the Container Gardening forum here, that it is just 1 person's opinion on what is ideal, and that it has several recipes depending on what is being grown in the particular container. Some on that forum do "rave" about it and some do not.

Nothing against Al as he works hard to help lots of people over there. But as I said above thousands of us, gardeners all over the world, have container gardened quite successfully for decades without using it or even knowing it existed. There are hundreds of recipes for making your own soil-less container mixes. Al's Mix is just one of them. And there are probably 15-20 varieties of commercially prepared soil-less mixes available to use, several of them superior to any homemade mix recipe. So don't assume that everyone here uses Al's Mix or even agrees with it?

If you choose to use it, fine but then the issues or questions you may have about it need to be addressed to that person, that forum as they might understand why you'd be adding sand to a container mix.

As Greg said above, an in ground sandy garden can be made productive with lots of work, lots of amending, and careful moisture monitoring. Containers are something else entirely.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 7:07PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

kawaiineko_gardener,

I consider sandy loam a good all around soil for vegetables. If the mixture you have been using works well for the vegetables you mentioned, it should work well for most other vegetables.

Loamy sand or just sand, is a different story. Soil which is extremely sandy does not retain moisture and nutrients well and needs amendment and more irrigation and fertilizing. But I don't think that is what you have.

Jim

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 7:44PM
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glib(5.5)

One can make the comparison, for example, between loamy sand and loamy clay. In my experience, pole beans, asparagus, and watermelon will prefer the former. You can count also carrots and parsnips in the sand column, because they need to be extracted and have relatively low N requirements. The rest prefers loamy clay.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 8:42PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

"I use the soil mixture that people suggest in the container gardening forum (it's called Al's Mix) because it works"

I'm not familiar with an Al's mix that calls for sand and vermiculite. Where is this recipe posted? Please supply a link.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 8:59PM
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kawaiineko_gardener(5a)

I'm not going to provide the link. But this right here is the recipe for a 30 gallon batch of "Al's Mix soilless mixture". This is what I use:

2-3 cubic feet fine pine bark mulch
5 gallons EACH-spaghnum peat moss, vermiculite

5 gallons sand (just normal run-of-the-mill sand; it's beige in color, and NOT sandy soil...it's the only modification I've made to the soil recipe)
2 cups dolomitic lime

2 cups dry time-released (also known as slow release) fertilizer

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 5:51PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

That's a lot of lime and fertilizer for such a small amount of soil. Have you double checked the amounts?

If you have grown plants in that mix with success before, then veggies should do fine in it.

I've used shredded bark, sand, and perlitte, and it has worked just fine. I don't care much for peat moss, except for my blueberries.

Some veggie plants are just too large to make good candidates for containers, unless the containers are quite large. I have seen successful tomatoes in 15 gallon containers.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 6:04PM
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pnbrown

Sand is a descriptor of particle size in a certain range. Other than that it has no meaning. A fine sand can be pretty different as a soil base from a coarse sand. Some sand soils are glacial till. Others are ancient sea floor, or ancient littoral dunes. And many other types of particles.

In Hawaii it would surely be a volcanic material?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 7:14PM
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