Summer in the sand

I live on top of some sand dunes. Southern Utah iron powder blowsand. I know there are plants that love sandy soils, and some that love loamy soils. Can someone give me some advice on planting directly into sandy soils, really sandy. Or, I can mix it with whatever % of compost required.
I planted some watermelons this past summer. Nice spot. Sandy area. Irrigation system. They didn't do well at all. I think probably I overwatered them.
Help on dealing with sandy gardens appreciated.
Steve
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http://puyallup.wsu.edu/~Linda%20Chalker-Scott/Horticultural%20Myths_file s/Myths/Compost%20overdose.pdf Ideal soils, from a fertility standpoint, are generally defined as containing no more than 5% OM by weight or 10% by volume ------
Take a soil sample with surface organic material scraped aside. Sample should be taken from a hole 8" to 12" deep (the material from that hole is your sample). For organic analysis, the sample would first need to be dried and weighed, then aerated and held at a temp greater than 455F for several hours, and then reweighed.
If you put a similar sample in a large jar with water and shake your sample until it forms a slurry, the sand will fall out after five min. or so, the silt after 20 min., and the clay after 24 hours (descending particle size). The height of each band in comparison to the total sedimentation will give you the approximate composition of your soil. Good soil will be 20 - 30% clay, 30-50% silt, 30 - 50% sand, and 5 - 10% organic material. Amend soil appropriately.
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No reason to till after the first preparation of the garden (no reason to till the first/last time but it does speed up soil development). Spread out your soil amendments: N: 18.37 lb. chicken manure/ 100 sq.ft. (2.88 oz/sq.ft.) P: 3 lb. / 100/sq.ft. (.48 oz/sq.ft.) K: How much wood ash should you use in your garden? The late Bernard G. Wesenberg, a former Washington State University Extension horticulturist, recommended using one gallon of ashes per square yard on loam to clay-loam soil, and half as much on sandier soils.
Keep garden well mulched (2" - 6").
If you have time to grow a cover crop, make it buckwheat, or rye, because they produce a lot of roots (organic material) for your garden.
Don't use chemical fertilizers, because they will be washed away in sandy soil.
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Billy wrote: ...

bah! humbug! :)
some plants grow great in straight organic compost or high organic content soils. squash, tomatoes, potatoes, melons to name a few.
the squash we had growing this past season were planted on top of a heap of rotting wood that was layered with a few inches of dirt between the layers. i was hoping for mushrooms, but it turned out too weedy and Ma decided to cover it with carpeting (several layers) to smother the weeds and then we cut small holes through the carpeting and planted squash. by the end of summer we had stems over 3 inches across and plants ranging out 20-30ft from the holes (this was obviously not a water limited planting).
a few of the other squash plants i grew were sited on top of gardens where 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the area below the plant was taken up by shredded wood or bark (down several feet). at first they grew slowly, but as the season went on they picked up and fruited well. we had a cold/cloudy month of June so was it that which stopped them from growing faster or the competition for nutrients from the decaying organic material? i couldn't say for sure, but they did fine and produced. that is all i can ask of a garden plant.
cheers and etc. :) hope y'all aren't freezing...
songbird
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The author of that page seems to have the impression that soil in residential areas has been previously well prepared.
Maybe current construction does that, but not earlier (post WW2) developments. The only really good soil I've had in a residential development was around a house built in 1905. That lot was never scraped.
My soil (house built & lot scraped c1960) is clay with about one inch of grass roots on top. The material in the roots might be called topsoil, but that would be generous. Digging in the sod gives reasonably good plant health for one season, maybe two. After that, squat. (That was this year, large disappointment and small harvest.)

I can confirm that ground ivy loves the stuff. :-) The old pile, that I was supposed to spread before the snow started, is cacooned in the stuff.

12F this morning, predicting 4F tonight. I'm ready for spring.
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You seem to be in a cranky mood. Obviously, you're not a snow bird. The OM guide line isn't mine, so I gave its provenance. Somewhere in her writings, Ms. Chalker-Scott notes that when you have too much organic material in the soil, it will pollute ground water in the same fashion as chemical fertilizers, i.e. with the release of nutrients.

Yesterday, I was headed out to work when I found that the padlock on my garage gates was frozen solid. Finally, I wrapped a tissue around it, squirted some "guick start" on it, and stuck a match to it. A minute later the lock was open, and my glove was on fire!(no damage) God, I hate morning that I have to go out into. It's so cold here that the hot air balloons have given up.
Tea, the new Kool Aid
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Billy wrote:

more crinkly than cranky. like the tinman in Oz who needed some oil after a rain.

it can, but remember that the OP is in upland somewhat dry/arid climate. OM in the upper soil isn't too likely to be leaching much of anything. more likely wind erosion and sun baking off volatile compounds will be his losses.

oh man! i'll admit i am laughing, but still i'd hate that too.

less sugar if you can find it, it's amazing what people are paying for tea/sweetened tea at the stores. this is the same stuff you can make yourself for pennies on the gallon...
cheers and i hope the cold is only temporary for you there. it sure isn't here. this winter started much earlier than the previous two. looks like the propane might just squeak by at one refill this winter.
songbird
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Billy wrote:

If that is the major issue then I think that with high clay soils I could afford more organic material as the clay will bind the soluble nutrients better. The reasons that I don't use a really high proportion of organic matter is that it is a waste. Overall I get the best outcome spreading it about.
I have had a pumpkin volunteer in the compost heap that I let go. It did very well! The grass downslope from the heap is always overfertilised anyway so there isn't much I can do about that. With 150m of pasture between the gardens and the dam/creek/river I don't think much is going to escape into waterways. Unlike those who apply chicken litter often to their pasture my dam does not have an algal or water-weed bloom.
D
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David Hare-Scott wrote: ...

:) it's nice when common sense is confirmed...
songbird
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Happy Solstice to pro-, and antipodeans everywhere.
Finding myself out of harness for a couple of days, I want to take a moment to expand on the practice of over "mulchifying".
Beyond the potential to pollute water ways, and aquifers, the excessive nitrogen released from concentrated organic material 15%, i.e. OM by weight (equivalent to 30% compost by volume) or more, can also adversely affect your vegetables. Excess nitrogen leads to rapid growth which render lettuces more vulnerable to insects. It seems the bugs are attracted to the nitrogen in their leaves, and because of the more rapid growth of overly nourished plants, insects find their leaves easier to pierce. This is also a reason to avoid chemical fertilizers, at least in amounts usually recommended.
I must admit that I don't take everything stated by Professor Chalker-Scott as gospel, but she does raise questions that need answers.
Now I think I'll go out and watch the days grow.
Tea, the new Kool Aid
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Billy wrote: ...

cheers! over the hump. back towards spring now.
songbird
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Cheers indeed. Here's to the good times coming, and may we have the good sense to recognize them when they arrive.
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