Sandy Soil

I know a post all about sandy soil isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but I was listening to an episode of Garden Question Time where an audience member was lamenting moving somewhere with sandy soil. The panel recommended augmenting the soil with plenty of organic matter and adding raised beds for veggies.

I certainly agree with the latter (as I’ve done exactly that here), its the former I take umbrage with… Do you know how much compost and organic matter I would need to bring in to make my soil ideal?

Like this many.

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And we’d have to repeat it year after year to keep up the artifice. That sounds exhausting (and expensive).

My question is, why try? I’m not a huge fan of the phrase “Lean Into It” but this is absolutely the case when it comes to sandy soil. I’m leaning into it. Yes, we use mulch and it eventually breaks down into the soil, but I’m not actively amending it. I’m not trying to make it something it isn’t. (General Caveat: I understand that with clay soil you simply MUST amend to open up the structure to let any plants thrive, that just isn’t the case with sand.)

This, to me, is where Right Plant, Right Place comes into its own. I live in Zone 4. I cannot change this. I have boatloads of sun. I cannot change this in the immediate future. I have sandy soil. I can change this, but why would I especially knowing there are plants that fit my conditions?

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These plants do exist and they are lovely. They come in every color you desire. Tall, short, creeping, round. There are tame and well behaved ones. There are thuggish ones. There are natives and imports. Cultivars and wild-types. Trees. Shrubs. Perennials. Annuals. Grasses.

Is it the most extensive plant palate in the world? Nope. I’d have to move much further South (I’d wager Zone 6 or 7) to get a significant boost to the total number of plants I can grow. I’d have to add in shade to a decent portion of the garden to get even more variety. So for all the effort it would take to change my soil, what would it net me? A handful more plants to choose from? Its not worth it to me (and would possibly stymie me even more when figuring out what plant to use somewhere!).

As I said before, I’m obviously of the “Right Plant, Right Place” school so I’m predisposed to thinking this way. What I’d like to know is if you are into large-scale amending, what started you on that path and what is keeping you there (or have you changed your ways since starting)? Is it a desire to grow a plants that needs different conditions than you have? Or were the conditions so bad when you started that you didn’t feel like you had a choice? Or, am I just the lazy one?!?!

 

 

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