Veg Garden in Sand

deswackApril 2, 2007

I want to start a vegetable garden in my yard in a spot that has about 3 inches of sand on top of the normal clay-like coil. Do you think I can simply roto-till the sand into the soil and maybe add some top soil after or do I need to have the sand removed? Also as this is my first garden I'm wondering is late April to late in the season to begin?

Thanks in advance for your advice.


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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Do you happen to know why there is three inches of sand on top of the clay? And whether it is a fine sand or coarse.

If it is the remains of a kids' sandpit then, apart from the mini dump trucks which may have been buried, you could be reasonably safe if you decided to roto-till it through.

Caution, though. Some clays, particularly alkaline ones, tend to firm up in summer if sand is added. Check your soil type first by either asking or doing a test at home for soil pH using a kit from the garden centre.

If you do decide to mix in the sand, and if the budget will allow, also add plenty of compost along with any ancient manure you can access.

If you have to move the sand you might want to use it as the base for paths between your beds. With a clay-based soil - the less walking you do on your growing area the better, and well-planned paths really help with that.

If your soil has dried out enough so the clay clods break easily when 'smacked' with the back of a spade or spading fork then keep on working. If the soil feels very heavy and gluey - it's still too wet and you could end up with a puggy mess instead of easy to work soil. If you try to dig and you feel that you've struck concrete - too dry. In which case - damp the area. Cover with a sheet of thick plastic or damp newspapers and leave for a couple of days.

It will improve one you've added compost - but it will take several years of twice-yearly feeding with compost before you'll be able to garden using small hand tools. Worth the effort, though.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 4:51AM
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Thanks so much for the info. I have access to plenty of compost so I think I'll roto-till the sand into the ground first then add compost and roto-till that in too.

The sand used to be the base for a swimming pool we had back there, it's medium grain sand.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 4:17PM
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