I will start by saying that I've had success with Corn, Basil,
and Cucumbers. I've got radishes growing but they never
looked like radishes... They've been growing for over 4
months now and they are pretty plants with bright red
stems, nice looking leaves. Can a radish be eaten months
after it's 30 day due date?
I've got some carrots growing but the carrots look like
they are still two months from maturing. The leaves are
growing upwards, are about 6 inches. The roots aren't
developing very much at the moment.
I've planted some cabbage but the cabbage doesn't seem
to be taking to well.
The sandy soil is slowly turning into a better (not so sandy)
soil, I'm thinking it'll take another year though before it's fully
where it should be.
So my main question involves what to grow in sand in order
to improve the quality of the sand? I've reworked the corn
stalks into the sand and that seems to have helped a bit,
and I keep adding dead leaves and such and keep watching
One other question... involving basil. I know basil will die
if I let it bloom. If I let it bloom will it seed itself and create
more basil plants? And if I have sweet basil next to purple
basil next to lemon basil... what can I expect if I let them
Look around you. Tampa Bay produces most of the winter (Ruskin) tomatoes.
Plant City is famous for strawberries. If you drive down h-iway 60 you will
see fields of Collard and Mustard greens.
I understand your frustration with the sandy Florida soils. I moved to Anna
Maria Island from Lakeland a few years ago and have been burying every bit of
organics I can get a hold of (leaves, 7-11 coffee grounds, seaweed, even barber
hair.) Keep adding leaves, especially oak leaves.
Cropwise, try peanuts (Spanish) or peas as a Nitrogen fixing green manure. Be
sure to plant Marigolds to fight off Fla's biggest plant pest, Root-knot
Nematodes. In the cool weather (winter, lol) plant Corriander and let it go to
seed and dry out to attract ladybugs.
You can forget about growing root crops around here. I have never seen any
home garden grown ones of any size. I don't know if it is the texture or the
chemistry of our sand. Stick to cruciforms and fruiting vegetables like
tomatoes, eggplant or peppers.
Anna Maria Island
"A Quaint Little Drinking Village,
With a Fishing Problem."
Driving down 60 I've seen fields of cows. Maybe some
trees farther on down closer to the east coast. It's been a
long time, maybe 8 years since I've done the drive to Miami.
I've had success with Mustard Leaf. The leaves grow pretty
I'm seeing dead leaves are working great at turning sand into
something more than sand. And coffee seems to help as long
as it's mixed with the sand and left a few months with some
other composting marterials before actually being used... (it
kills cucumbers if applied directly to the topsoil and watered
Coffee grounds seem to be no good for cucumbers. The
cucumbers seem to love a 1-2-1 ratio of fertilizer though.
I've got some pigweed growing that is supposed to draw
things up and I kind of like it as it has these sharp thorns on
it and it grows to about 5 feet high and vines like to climb it.
I haven't found very many details about using it to bring
nutrients up to the surface, most people seem to call it
spinach (or amaranthus?). It must have come in some of
the cow manure soil I bought from Home Depot, I don't
know where it came from.
The peanuts won't survive the squirrels. The squirrels ate
up about 50 cobs of corn I grew.
I'll keep that in mind. I'll have to do some research on the
Nematodes. I think it might be possible that those could
have taken out the cucumbers. I'm only assuming that it
was the coffee grounds that did it. Everytime I've put the
grounds in the area where the cucumbers are growing,
the cucumber leaves started turning brown and looking
rotton. There was a problem with silverleaf whitefly on
the cucumbers over the summer, where I found that
washing the leaves with dish detergent or just plain water
seemed to seemed to help... but then some of the things
I was washing off the leaves were Asian ladybugs... so
I'm not sure if I did more harm or more good. At the time
I was messing with the coffee grounds and a second set
of cucumber plants, I stopped watering the leaves and
left all the white, yellow and brown specks (eggs?) on the
bottom of the leaves. I watched quite a few lady bugs in
their larva stages develop. Those leaves on those cucumbers
gradually turned brown and dried out. One vine is almost
completely leafless, produced about 5 or 6 cucumbers
before losing all it's leaves and is currently leafless. So I
believe it was the coffee grounds that are doing in that
particular cucumber vine... it looks pretty much done in.
The cucumbers seem to attract ladybugs very well, just
passing that along back to you. I'll keep the Corriander
in mind. The Cucumbers I've had success with are the
Poinsett 76 / MarketMore 76 varieties. I did get some
Yamato Cucumber vines going but they never fruited...
and it appeared that the coffee grounds killed those, but
perhaps they don't last all year long... maybe they only
last for about 3 or 4 months at most... because if that's
the case, I might need to rethink the coffee grounds.
I've got some carrots potted in a rich soil that seem to be
growing right now. They just are growing up at the moment,
rather than down. :-) I think you're right about the root
Cruciform? What exactly is that one? I looked it up at:
And all I see is having four parts... or cross and most of the
links tend to go to religious references, assuming the cross that
Jesus Christ and others have hung upon as used by the Italians?
I did find cucumiform though which indicates an object in the
shape of a cucumber. :-)
Post replies to newsgroup.
I looked up cucumbers in one of my trusty Rodale "How To's" and it seems that
they like acidic soils (5.0-6.8) so I don't think that coffee grounds hurt your
plants. You do need to give them lots of Phosphate and Potasium.
How wet is your soil? Could your leaf browning be caused by fungus? That
would start with round spots and soft spots on fruit.
Someone may correct me but I believe "Curciforms" are leafy plants with
opposing leaves. The ones that we keep hearing are good for us: Spinach,
Collards, Turnips, Brussle Sprouts, etc
The soil is sand for the most part that has been turned and
mixed with some dead dried out leaves, some dead dried
grass clippings, some dead dried oak leaves, a variety of other
leaves and stems. As sand it drains very well. The other stuff
I've mixed in seems to keep it from draining so quickly.
Cruciform according to the definition at dictionary.com:
(Bot.) having four parts arranged in the form of a cross.
I'm thinking along the lines of maybe Spanish Needle, where
there are three leaves on a stem. I don't know. Maybe
someone else can help out.
While going through things, I found the word cucurbit...
And it is possible, based that what I thought were Asian
LadyBugs are really cucurbit beetles (spotted cucumber
beetles). The leaves started to dry out and wilt. I'm pretty
sure some of the ladybugs I saw were actual ladybugs. But
there were quite a few bugs out there. I watched some as
they developed through their larva stages. I've spent the
last hour or so looking up stuff on cucurbit, cruciform and
all and I have to give up on it and get some other things
done. Perhaps there was a combination of ladybugs and
spotted cucumber beetles.
I should have took some pictures of the bugs. :-)
I've rarely seen ladybugs on my cucurbits (cucumbers, melons, squash).
But I *always* see cucumber beetles. They can spread diseases such as
bacterial wilt and mosaic virus.
I grow my cucumbers in a screened box, to exclude the cucumber beetles,
which means I only grow the types that set fruit without pollination. Otherwise
the bacterial wilt will wipe them out.
My soil is really sandy, too. My main fertilizers are alfalfa pellets and
compost made with shredded leaves and large amounts of coffee grounds.
That works for me because my soil test revealed abundant amounts of
phosphorous but very limited amounts of potassium. Phosphorous tends
to stick around in soils, but potassium leaches. Coffee grounds and alfalfa
add nitrogen and potassium but not so much phosphorous.
Youshould consider having your soil tested to find out what your critical
nutrients might be...
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)
Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
Here in Australia some ladybirds/ladybugs are attracted to the leaf
of curcubits and potatoes, and they rasp the green layer off the leaf
to leave a transparent patch. You see this small area of damage right
where each bug is located on the leaf, so they are strongly implicated!
I pick the ladybugs off the leaves and squash them. They obviously are
not the helpful ones that eat aphids.
What to plant in sand? I grew the pink sweet potatoes (yams) in
some unimproved very sandy soil, growing them from slips (rooted
lengths of runners). It was difficult to keep the water up to them
during the height of summer, but I covered the soil surface with
leaves and compost and the plants thrived and produced a heavy crop
of delicious tubers. Harvest as needed.
John Savage (news address invalid; keep news replies in newsgroup)
John Savage is right about Sweet Potatoes growing easily in sand.
DON'T DO IT!!!!! DON'T DO IT!!!
I have ruined two gardens by growing sweet potatoes. They are more persistant
than nut-sedge or wire-grass. Once they are established, that's all you will
grow. Even "Round-up" does not kill them all.
The radishes sound doomed. Have they bolted (produced flowers)? If so,
the seed pods that develop are edible.
Cabbage really does better in a heavy soil.
The split between what grows and what doesn't my not all be due to the
sand. It may be a division between what grows well in hot weather and
what does better in a cool climate. Possible?
To improve the soil, about all you can do is keep adding lots of organic
material. It will probably take more than you think.
Jim Carlock wrote:
Very possible. Alot of stuff doesn't like the heat of summer
Funny... I cleaned out the gutters last week, a couple years ago
a tree started to grow in the gutter. I think I found alot of good
stuff in the gutters. The tree that started growing in the gutter is
now growing on the side of the house, is about 14 feet tall.
Post replies to newsgroup.
Basil reseeds like crazy in my yard. I don't know how much
it cross pollinates, but I find versions of Lettuce leaf, lemon,
Italian, and cinnamon basil growing in the lawn, in clay, through
the fence, and in the flower beds. I just crush a leaf on any of
the plants and sniff to figure out which one it is if I can't
tell by the leaf. If it doesn't have a good, strong scent; it
gets pulled up.
"Maybe you'd like to ask the Wizard for a heart."
"ElissaAnn" < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Things that help with sand.
1) drip irrigation, since sand gets dry so damn fast.
2) much more organic matter than you think. Conside one foot deep
3) sunken beds. This and 2) mean that you may have to dig up and
dispose of some of the sand, and replace it with compost
4) most veggies do well in sand but, as others said, cabbage, fava,
horseradish will not.
5) more frequent fertilizing
Some of my sandy beds are not so sandy anymore, but they did take over
one foot topdressing, and the manure I use has chunks of clay mixed
in, which helps. Veggies with a large taproot that is not eaten will
help deposit organic matter at depth (example, dandelion) but this
method will get you somewhere very slowly. You will just have to dig
the sand, spread it one the lawn, and come in with tons of compost, or
restrict yourself to what grows well there. I am sure watermelons will
Just some thoughts-- If I'm wrong Cereus will correct me.<g> I'm
convinced that my current garden is on an ancient beach site. [50
feet away is pure clay with a rubble topping, so I'm not complaining]
That seems to indicate that you manage to keep water in there for the
plants. That's the first trick with sand. You're also growing
things that take a good dose of Nitrogen [corn & basil] and some that
depend more on Potassium. [cukes]
Your root crops seem to be suffering. They need a high am mount of
phosphorous. My garden is the same--- the only way I've ever had
any decent carrots, beets or radishes was to side dress those rows
with a fertilizer high in phosphorous. [the middle number in the
fertilizer name-- I usually end up with 10-60-10 because that's what
they carry at the local nursery.]
I give the whole garden a dose in the spring, but then I just
concentrate of ph & heavy mulching. I use all my grass clipping
green on my tomatoes and peppers. Then I side-dress my root crops
every couple weeks with the 10-60-10.
Bring some soil samples to your local Co-operative Extension [or
whatever the county agriculture people are called in your state] and
have it tested.
Probably pretty tough-- but it won't hurt you.
I never grew cabbage, but I wonder if that could be Phosphorous, too--
don't they have a long taproot?
There's been a garden on my garden site for 50 years. [with a couple
4-5 year breaks] I add a couple tons of organic matter every
year. It is amazing how much the sand can swallow.
I'm in central Florida and also have a sand garden. Jim, are you serious
about the ton of organic matter or was that just a way of saying "lots
an lots"? And if you really did mean a ton, how big a space is it?
I generally have pretty good luck in fall and spring if I add lots of
compost. I grow a variety of leafy greens, some beans, tomatoes and my
zucchini is doing well this year. Summer is just too hot to grow much (a
local friend has good luck with black eyed peas). I sometimes think that
the mustards will grow in beach sand.
It was a wild-ass guess. The garden has shrunk to about 50 by 50 as
I get older.
I'll try to estimate a little closer--
I mow about once a week from June through August I mow my lawn & bag
my grass. - To keep the math simple and guess that I probably miss a
couple weeks we'll call it 10 mowings. I empty the bag 6-8 times
each mowing, so that's 60-80 bags of grass. 50 lbs per bag [another
wild guess] would give me 3-4000 pounds of grass. I probably add a
few hundred pounds of maple, ash & oak leaves to that in the fall.
I've been doing this since 1986 [with a couple years off for illness].
The previous owner had a garden on this spot since the 50's at least &
he said he took most of the clippings from his side-business [he and
his sons mowed a few lawns] and turned them directly into the soil.
Still, there is just a very subtle difference between my garden and
the mason's sand that I order from the concrete vendor.
A least I don't often have heat problems. Upstate NY--- usually my
neighbors complain about cold & wet ruining their gardens. [most of
the county is clay-- my garden is an oddity] The sand works well for
cold & wet.
I should try to grow more of them. My kids like broccoli & cabbage.
My biggest weeds are purslane, lamb's quarters and garlic mustard.
When the purslane starts disappearing I know I'm making some
headway--- but it usually comes back with vigor in a couple years.
[at least it's tastey] The garlic mustard [a brassicaceae] does
indeed persist anywhere I neglect for more than a couple weeks.
I live south of Tampa and for years tried to have a decent garden.
Composted everything I could find in the neighborhood and after 10 years,
nothing changed. A lot of near pure sand full of root knot nematodes.
After vapam was pulled from the market, the nematodes always won.
I started expirmenting with hydroponics and today after 20 years of
learning, I have an abundance of vegetables year around.
Hydroponics has it's own problems, but it eliminates most of the problems of
growing in this sandy nematode filled soil.
Maybe it was the Vapam that helps create sand?
I'm trying to keep this simple and unwordy so discard this
line and read on...
Cucumbers do grow in "amended" sand. They prefer shade
here in Florida, and if put in direct sunlight, they will grow
if watered daily. It doesn't seem to take much to make the
sand healthy for cucumbers. A good bunch of dead dried
leaves, some dead dried branches, and most importantly,
some a banana peel added monthly or less. <g>
I don't seem to be having a problem right at the moment with
instant sand. I know the summer sun and vacant patches of
"sand" which I'm working (mixing leaves into) will get
over the problem of sand, as well as adding some more of
the 1-2-1 fertilizer. That seemed to work pretty good with
only one application in the spring.
I'm going to turn the discussion around right now... I haven't
started researching nematodes yet and I don't know what
those are. They seemed to have been a problem for Norm
2 IMPORTANT QUESTIONS ABOUT NEMATODES:
What promotes a healthy nematode and what destroys a
nematode? I don't even know what a nematode is right at
the moment, I'm assuming it's a bug (beetle that attacks
Maybe what's killing the cucumbers are root rot nematodes ?
Nawh... the cucumber leaves were attacked and whatever
infected the cucumbers started at the leaves... and it then
worked its way from the leaves inward. I'm assuming the
whiteflies did them in... There was a problem with silverleaf
whiteflies... I can pretty much positively identify those are the
ones that attacked the Yamato cucumbers. And there seemed
to be whiteflies that attacked the MarketMore 76 cucumbers,
the leaves didn't get the white looking lines (of poison?) running
up gradually making the whole leaf pale.
The leaves on the Marketmore 76 cucumbers died and once
the leaves died, the vine itself started dying, starting from the
outermost part going back down to the roots. I'm thinking
that is from a lack of leaves now, rather than a poison running
back to the roots. The base stills seems to be okay, but it is
definitely NOT growing any new leaves or stems... so my
lack of a full understanding on what whiteflies do is slowing
my resolution in this matter... as well as the fact that coffee
grounds DO seem to be a problem for cucumbers... but
perhaps there's something in coffee grounds that promote
a very healthy whitefly and attracts whiteflies? I'm thinking
along the lines that coffee grounds might be beneficial for
cucumbers if there are no whiteflies around? This is all
hypthetical stabs in the dark though... but perhaps someone
out there might be help out...
I'm not sure I need to pursue the root rot nematode thing at
the moment... I'm 90% convinced that it was whiteflies.
ASIAN LADYBUGS, CUCUMBER BEETLES, and
But that brings me back to the Asian ladybugs, they are
benificial, right? They seemed to be attacking the whiteflies.
But they do also look like cucumber beetles. So I guess I
need to seperate the Asian ladybugs from the cucumber
beetles visually in the next attempt.
I've already started another set of cucumber vines. I'm
hoping I can get the Yamato variety to fruit this time. I'll
be spraying the undersides of the leaves daily to get rid
of all whiteflies and whatever else attacks the undersides.
DISH DETERGENT ???
I've positively identified that spraying water works very
well in this manner. I've also identified that spraying dish
detergent does not "seem" to present a problem. I tried it
over the summer on the Yamato cucumber vines (those
are the ones that never fruited). So I'll just stick with water
this time, :-), unless someone has already done some
research on the effects of dish detergent... (the bottled variety
that you use to clean dishes in sinks, NOT the stuff people
stick in a dish washer).
There's a lot of stuff here and I hope I've presented it very
clearly... and alot of it are just throwing ideas up in the
air for people to add onto. There are quite a few issues
involved so if folks reply, I'm asking that the replies at
least start with the question that was asked that is being
answered... then perhaps leave the unanswered and
relavent questions after your signature, or inline with
comments that you don't know the answer and/or a
Post replies to newsgroup.
I'm not much on "Sand farming", but have been around farming for most
of my 70 years.
Okay, the Root Knot Nematodes--Pull up one of your dead vines- -if the
roots has tiny small knots on them--you have a nematode problem.
The leaves turning white and dying- -Could be a lack of trace minerals
necessary for making Chlorophyll - -could be PH of your soil.(sand).
My recommendation is- -give them a little shot of MiracleGrow, and
watch them grow.
Oh yes, some Cucumbers require polination(Honey bees) to produce-
-while others don't.
Have a good garden- -We are winter bound here!
On Thu, 25 Nov 2004 20:05:27 GMT, "Jim Carlock"
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