The three basic types of soil are sandy, loam, and clay. Most areas have a mixture of these three types in varying quantities, but in the case of sandy soil, the sand predominates. Don’t despair if you have sandy soil as it can be very productive if appropriately managed and you plant the proper fruits.
Persimmons, cherries, blueberries, melons, plums, pomegranates, dragon fruit, and citrus grow in sandy soil. They hate wet feet, so well-draining sandy soil is ideal. They don’t grow well in clay soil, but a mixture of sand and loam is acceptable. Add organic compost for improved nutrient retention.
Sandy soil has both advantages and disadvantages. Many gardeners try to compensate for the disadvantages by adding copious quantities of organic material to amend the soil type. It is much easier to adapt your gardening to the soil you have than trying to change its composition. While many plants don’t grow well in sandy soil, a good few do and are worth checking out.
Understanding Sandy Soil
It helps to understand the nature of sandy soils when choosing the best fruits to plant. Sandy soil retains less water than other denser soils such as clay. It tends to dry out quickly most of the time, but if it lies on top of a rocky layer, it can become waterlogged because the layer does not allow the water to drain out.
If the soil lies on rock, it may be necessary to dig drainage ditches to avoid plants becoming waterlogged.
Some sandy soils lie on top of clay or loam, but you need to dig a few planting holes to discover if this is the case. If you do have clay or loam beneath the sand, the soil can be very productive as the heavier substrate traps nutrients and moisture within reach of the plant’s roots. If there is sand all the way down, the soil is likely to be poor in nutrients and less fertile.
Sandy soil requires more frequent watering but in smaller amounts than other soil types because the sand does not retain water well. The same applies to fertilizers. The plant needs more frequent fertilization but in smaller quantities because the sand does not retain the nutrients for long.
Organic fertilizer can be dug into the soil to help with moisture and nutrient retention. The organic compost gradually releases nutrients through the decomposition activity of microscopic biological organisms. It is difficult to accumulate organic compost in sandy soil in warm areas, so it is better to add smaller quantities of compost more often.
The advantages of sandy soils are that they warm up more quickly than denser soil types, drain well, are easier to dig, and have fewer bacterial and fungal diseases to which plants are susceptible. Root rot is less likely in sandy soil, and weeding is easy.
Sandy soils may lack nutrients like nitrogen and calcium, which tend to leach from them in high rainfall areas. Loss of calcium can lead to the soil being more acidic, and periodic applications of lime may be necessary to correct this. Using organic fertilizers can also help to improve plant yields in acidic soil.
You can use a pH meter to determine the acidity levels of your sandy soil. They are relatively inexpensive and provide precise measurements.
Many garden stores also sell kits that use dyes to indicate soil acidity, but they are less accurate than the pH meters. However, they are sufficient for the average gardener to determine which plants will do well. If you plan to plant over a large area, you may need to take a few different samples for testing as the soil pH can vary.
Soil that is too acidic hampers the dissolution of nutrients. Acidic soils tend to prevent plants from accessing nutrients because they don’t bind well to the soil. Many fruit trees have relatively shallow roots. This means they aren’t suitable for sandy soils because the comparatively large soil particles cannot hold onto the water long enough for the shallow roots to absorb it.
From this, we can see that many fruits that do well in sandy soil prefer drier, slightly more acidic soils than others, have deeper roots, and don’t like wet feet.
Persimmons are delicious, juicy, sweet, and a deep golden yellow when ripe.
They are ideal for Mediterranean climates with moderate winters and low temperatures in spring. Persimmon trees need well-draining substrates and so are suitable for sandy soil. Their roots are susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections, which are less common in sandy soil. They also get root rot if the soil becomes waterlogged.
Persimmon trees require a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 but can also grow well in soils with a pH of 7. In sandy soils, they will need annual applications of nitrogen, potassium, and other nutrients, which tend to leach quickly from the soil. They can grow deep roots, so shallow irrigation is best avoided to encourage the development of a robust root system.
As a general rule, they grow well in areas where citrus grows. Mature persimmon trees don’t usually need to be watered in the dry season, but irrigation will improve productivity. Ideally, they should not be permitted to bear fruit in their first three years so that they can become well-established.
Young trees require frequent watering but in small amounts because sandy soil does not retain water well. As the tree grows, it requires higher amounts of fertilizer. Persimmons need less water in the cooler months, and young trees require more frequent irrigation than mature ones.
Cherry trees are susceptible to root rot and don’t like waterlogged soil. They grow best in deep, well-drained, sandy soil that is moderately fertile. Therefore, adding organic compost to the soil before planting will probably be necessary.
Sweet cherries need a pH level between 6.3 to 7.2 and should be fertilized once or twice a year. They do not like fertilizers that are too rich in nitrogen because they are vulnerable to root infections.
Wild black cherry trees do well in a wide range of soils. Sour cherry trees are smaller than the sweet variety, and the fruit is not palatable when consumed raw but can be used for jams and other preserves very successfully. Mulch should be applied around them to prevent water from evaporating.
Some examples of sour cherry varieties are Montmorency, Early Richmond, and Meteor, while examples of sweet cherries are Stella, Bing, and Black Tartarian. Different cherry varieties fruit at various times, some early and some late in the harvest season.
You need to evaluate your soil before planting blueberries. They like acidic, well-drained sandy loam soils. They have a shallow root system and well-drained soil to thrive, so they do well in sandy soils.
It is recommended that the soil contains organic matter of more than three percent, so you may need to add organic compost if your soil is very sandy.
They rarely require fertilization with phosphorous or potassium but will need some added nitrogen from time to time. The ideal pH for blueberries is 4.5, although they will tolerate a pH of 3.8 to 5.5 if there is a lot of organic matter in the soil.
Do not overfertilize blueberries because they do well in nutrient-poor soils and can be damaged by too much fertilizer. Less can be more with blueberries. Different blueberry cultivars have varying nitrogen requirements, so you should know which cultivar you intend to plant.
To avoid damaging the shallow root systems, do not dig the fertilizer into the soil around the plants. Sprinkle it in a ring around the plant stems instead.
Melons, including watermelons and muskmelons, grow on vines. They prefer well-drained, sandy loam soil with maximum sunlight. The ideal pH range is between 6.2 to 6.8. Melons need a long warm growing season and can be killed by frost.
In the early stages of growth, they need frequent watering of around one inch of water each week. When setting fruit, they also need weekly watering to a depth of between eight and ten inches.
Only female blossoms produce fruit. Muskmelons that get too little water will not taste very sweet. They tend to have two or three fruits per vine. Watermelons, on average, produce one or two fruits per vine. Overripe musk melons also lose their flavor, so they should be picked as soon as they are ripe.
The ground should be fertilized by broadcasting before planting in the spring. Dig the fertilizer into the top three inches of soil. Before the runners start spreading, dress each plant with half a cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer between six and eight inches from the stem and then water it in.
Plums do not like waterlogged, clay-heavy soils. They love deep, well-drained, sandy loam soils with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 and full sun. There are three basic types of plums – Damson, Japanese or European but there are many cultivars. They can grow to five meters or sixteen feet high, although dwarf varieties will be somewhat smaller.
Plums are prone to frost damage, so they are suitable for warmer climates. You will need to apply organic fertilizer and some calcium nitrate periodically. The quantity varies depending on the age of the plum tree and the weather.
Young trees need frequent watering, especially in the dry season. Mulch can help to improve water retention, but it must not touch the tree.
Fertilizer should be placed around the tree just beyond the edge of the canopy, never around the trunk. You need to analyze the soil and leaves to determine which fertilizer to apply each year for best results.
Pomegranates will grow just about anywhere and are not too fussy about sandy soil. They prefer well-drained soil because they get root problems if it is too wet. Since nutrients leach out of sandy soil, you will have to apply fertilizer if you want a good fruit harvest.
They can grow in acidic soil with a pH of 4.5, but their preferred pH level is 5.5 to 7.2. Pomegranates should be grown in full sun. If you are planting in sandy soil, you should add some organic compost and some topsoil to help retain the moisture and nutrients.
Pomegranates have considerable health benefits as they are high in antioxidants and vitamin C. The plant is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to sixteen meters or thirty-three feet tall. They typically bear fruit in the Northern Hemisphere from October to February. In the Southern Hemisphere, fruiting takes place between March and May.
If treated well, they can grow extremely old, more than one hundred years. There are some purely ornamental varieties that you need to avoid if you want fruit. There are upwards of five hundred different cultivars, so it is worth checking which ones are the best fruit-bearers before you buy.
Pomegranates prefer semi-arid and arid climates where summers are hot and winters are cool. They can withstand temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius. The plants should be appropriately irrigated to optimize fruit yield. At the end of winter and early spring, they should be fertilized with a high nitrogen fertilizer such as 5:1:2.
Cultivars prized for their fruits are Bhagwa, Ruby, Mollar, and Arakta.
Citrus such as lemons, oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, and limes can be planted in fertile sandy soil with great success. They need a neutral pH, between 6.0 and 7.0, and full sun with no wind exposure. Citrus trees are frost tolerant, but well-draining soil is essential.
If your sandy soil is too acidic, you can apply lime to improve it before planting. The tree should not be permitted to fruit within the first two years to encourage the development of robust roots. Citrus trees need a lot of nitrogen, so it will be necessary to apply a suitable fertilizer at the end of winter or in early spring.
In the late summer, an application of slow-release organic fertilizer is also recommended. The trees should be watered both before and after fertilization. Other plants must not be permitted to grow within the tree’s drip line. Drip irrigation is a good irrigation method for citrus trees.
Apply mulch or use weed matting around the tree to suppress weed growth.
Dragon fruits prefer sandy well-draining soils with good irrigation. It is a cactus, so it is accustomed to hot, dry weather and hates wet feet. The temperatures should range between twenty and thirty degrees Celsius for best fruiting results.
A pH of 5.5 to 6.5 gives the best dragon fruit yield. The fruit takes between twenty-seven and thirty days to grow and should be picked as soon as it ripens. If left on the plant for a few days too long, the fruit will rot.
The most well-known varieties of dragon fruit include Pitahaya, Red Pitaya, and Costa Rican Pityaya. To ensure the most flavorful, sweet fruit, it is necessary to prepare the soil with organic compost and potting mix so that the plant gets enough nutrients. You can also add worm castings.
The plant reaches some twenty feet in height. The fruits of some varieties of dragon fruit are bright yellow when ripe, while many others are vibrant pinkish-red. They should be grown in full sun.
Several fruits prefer growing in sandy, well-drained soil, provided sufficient nutrients and water are available. These include persimmons, plums, pomegranates, blueberries, citrus, dragon fruit, and melons such as watermelon. Most of these plants prefer warm temperatures and can grow in slightly more acidic soils than other fruiting plants.