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"...an urban country adventure." - Kim Pierce DMN
Sandy soil is more porous and a bit easier to handle than the heavy black
clay soil, but it contains less nutrients and won't hold water very well. So, we
need to modify the soil a bit with a few things to beef up the nutrition and
water holding capacity.
By doing this, we will end up with a healthier soil that will hold moisture
better than it did, but it still will drain better than the clay, making it
ideal for many native plants that won't tolerate the heavy clay.
What you'll need
- Tools - shovel, hoe, metal rake, wheelbarrow.
- Compost - and lots of it! Make your own for free or
buy it by the bag. You can even have it delivered by the yard, right to
You will need to add about 4" - 6" to the top 6" - 8" of the soil to really
make a difference. (About the depth of the garden fork is usually
sufficient, no need to dig to the other side of the world!) And oh what a difference it will make! Don't
skimp here on compost. An average bag of compost is 2 cubic feet and at
4" deep it will
cover an area of 6 square feet. Check out Soil Building Systems handy
- Lava sand - no trip to a volcano necessary. We have here it in 40lb
bags. You'll use about 4# per 100 square feet. So a whole bag will cover
an area that is 10' x 100'. Lava sand adds a special paramagnetic value
to the soil that really seems to speed up the process at which nutrients are
available to the plants. So whereas it isn't a fertilizer in its own
right, it sure helps make fertilizers work better. Not to mention its
water holding capacity which is very important in a porous soil like the sugar
sand is. Don't think you can add too much of this wonder amendment.
It is great stuff and not very expensive either.
- Greensand - no, not what's in the kid's sandbox after the neighbor's cat
gets done. This greensand is chocked full of trace minerals and a great
source of iron that won't be so harsh like the synthetic iron supplements you
may have been used to. It can go out at a rate of 2 - 4 lbs per 100
square feet. You shouldn't need to add this amendment but once in a
while as most of the nutrients it contains are not readily leached or used up
by the plants. We have it in 40lb bags and it is very reasonably priced,
especially since a little goes such a long way.
- Dry Molasses - this ain't the stuff Grandma baked with - but boy will the
microbes in your soil eat it up! We don't want to spoil them too much,
so it only goes out at about 5lbs per 1000 square feet. This amendment
can also be sprayed on afterwards in a liquid molasses form. If you're
not seeing too many earthworms in that sandy soil, it may not mean that the
neighbor is using them for bait. There may just not be enough good
stuff in your sandy soil to attract them. You can add this
periodically to keep the microbes and the earthworms happy.
- Cornmeal - not the kind you'd make muffins out of! This is an
animal food grade cornmeal that still contains all the good parts of the
meal. It helps control and kill fungi that grow in the soil and often
cause root problems. Common brown patch, Phytophthora, a fungus
that can take out a bed of periwinkles, and other various fungal diseases can
all be controlled with corn meal. We add it to our soil preparation just
as a preventative measure and it adds a bit of nutrition, too. Much of
the black gumbo soil around here grew cotton many years ago. Therefore,
we have the potential for cotton root rot and all its problems. Like a
bad penny, some fungi just keep coming back. Shouldn't need more than
about 10lbs per 1,000 square feet. Comes in various sizes.
- General Organic Fertilizer - you pick your favorite. We suggest a
nicely balanced one like Maestro Gro's Texas Tea or Biofrom Dry. Just
stay away from the synthetic based high nitrogen mixes. Most of them
will just leach away after a good rain anyway. (Leach a way into your
water tank, drinking water system or our rivers and streams that is. More
about why that is bad on our environmental page.)
- Earthworm Castings - that's worm poop for you newbies. Earthworms
eat, well, they eat earth. So what a better place to find a nice wide variety of
nutrients, minerals and even some earthworm eggs! You can double up on
this one. Put it out at 10 - 20 lbs per 1,000 square feet - and then put
a pinch in each hole before you put the seed or plant in. All that
eating will help keep your black gumbo soil aerated.
- Lime - we don't mean slice up a bunch of little green limes and
toss them out there. If you've got sandy soil, you may need to add
some lime, as in the nutrient, to help balance things out. Give us a
call and we'll help you out here, or send a sample of your soil to
www.txplant-soillab.com and they can tell you how much of it you need -
if you need it at all.
Now you are ready to
Prepare the Soil