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How to Improve your Sandy Soil

In spite, of the bad reputation tied to sandy soil, it can be improved to support growth of crops. There are three main types of soils; loam, sandy, and clay soils; the type of soil found in your garden is dependent on the area you live and other factors such as volcanicity. However, there is a fix that you can utilize to grow some crops in your sandy soil. It is paramount to note that just like in any organic garden, chemicals in form of insecticides, fertilizers or pesticides. Organic gardening is based on the principle that nature is self-sustaining, so for the best crop yield nature needs to be in perfect balance. Pest control can be accomplished using biological predators or a DIY product like a wasp trap. Organic gardening is based on the principle of control rather than elimination s pests are beneficial to the garden. Therefore, control the insects but consider building a bug hotel to encourage beneficial insects. The same goes for weed control, with our personal recommendation being to use the weeds as a food source for your pet animals and the family. Consider building an outdoor hutch for your pet rabbit for easy feeding using quality rabbit hutch plans.

Sandy soil has distinctive characteristics that make it difficult to use for gardening, and some cases, it makes the soil the best choice.

Sand particles are large, irregularly shaped bits of rock. In a sandy soil, large air spaces between the sand particles allow water to drain very quickly. Nutrients tend to drain away with the water, often before plants have a chance to absorb them. For this reason, sandy soils are usually nutrient-poor.

A sandy soil also has so much air in it that microbes consume organic matter very quickly. Because sandy soils usually contain very little clay or organic matter, they do not have much of a crumb structure. The soil particles do not stick together, even when they are wet.

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Organic gardening lays emphasis on the fact that every component has some benefits s well as demerits. In the case of sandy soils, the benefits are as follows:

Root Crops—like carrots, beets, radishes, and other tap-rooted vegetables—perform much better in sandy soils than in clay soils. It takes a lot of work to bring clay soil up to the kind of tilth that favors root crops.

Herbs, which need good drainage, often thrive in sandy soils.

Root Rots that plague gardeners working in clay soil are almost non-existent in sandy soil. No Phytophthora for you

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Developments in the field of organic gardening have lead to introduction of some methods of improving sandy soils to make it culpable of crop growth.

• Work in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter such as well-rotted manure or finished compost.

• Mulch around your plants with leaves, wood chips, bark, hay or straw. Mulch retains moisture and cools the soil.

• Add at least 2 inches of organic matter each year.

• Grow cover crops or green manures.

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The following are some pointers on how to improve and increase fertility of your sandy soil.

1. If you try to adjust the soil texture by adding silt or clay to a sandy soil, you will see some improvement, but most of it will just flush through the soil. There is not enough organic matter to keep these fine-textured soil components from washing out.

2. Increasing soil organic matter is the key to gardening in sandy soil. You have to make the soil more “sticky”, so water and nutrients don’t just flush through every time it rains

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• However, there is a way to permanently improve the organic matter content of your soil. It is called biochar. Biochar is a fancy name for charcoal if it is used as a soil amendment (to improve soil properties). The benefits of using biochar are:

a) Significantly and permanently increasing soil Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) — i.e. the soil’s ability to hold nutrients

b) Because of its high porosity it creates lot of habitats for beneficial microbes

c) Increased water retention

How is biochar made?

Usually biochar is made of agricultural wastes, such as stalks, straw, and wood of no commercial value. Sometimes it is made of manure or animal bones. If it is made of manure or bones, its immediate fertilizing value is higher, but it will not be as permanent. Biochar made of wood or woody organic matter should not be considered as a source of nutrients for the soil since its purpose is not to fertilize your plants or soil, but to create the opportunities for it to be fertile. It is mainly used by farmers or gardeners who follow sustainable agriculture practice

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3. Another inexpensive source of organic matter is cover crops. These are crops grown for the purpose of turning them into the soil. Cover crops are sown in beds and tilled in just as they begin to flower. Common winter cover crops include crimson clover, hairy vetch and mustard. Summer cover crops include buckwheat, cowpeas and pearl millet.

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