How to Plant a Vegetable Garden in Sandy Soil

Sandy soil has large particles and drains well but does not hold nutrients. Water soaks in rapidly and goes deeper than in other soils, but it also evaporates more quickly. Sandy soil also becomes hot near the surface. The large particles and resulting large pore space allow vegetables to develop extensive root systems, but they still may not be able to get enough water and nutrients from the sand. Organic matter mixed with the soil can act a a sponge for water and nutrients and mulch moderates the soil temperature.

Mark the corners of your garden beds with stakes or flags. Make the beds no wider than 4 feet so you can reach across them. Amend the soil only in the beds.


Cover the garden beds with 3 inches of organic matter. Mix manure with decayed leaves, or other seed- and disease-free plant material or use compost.

Dig or till the organic matter into the soil to a depth of 10 to 18 inches. Mix the soil and organic matter thoroughly.

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Rake the beds smooth. Mound the beds if you get more than 30 inches of rain per year where you live. Raise the paths and make the beds flat and lower than the paths if you have less than 30 inches of rain a year.

Water the beds to settle the soil. Moisten the top 12 inches before planting.

Plant seeds up to twice as deep in sandy soil than in heavier soil. Set out transplants and water immediately. Water whenever the top 2 inches are dry.

Cover the soil with 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch when the plants are 6 inches tall.



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  • Grow green manure cops between vegetable crops to increase organic matter in the soil.


  • Do not use more than 30 percent cow manure or commercial bagged manure in your organic matter mixture as this can add too much salt to the soil.
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Writer Bio

Lynn Doxon has a Ph.D. in horticulture, is a retired cooperative extension specialist and teaches courses in urban farming. She is the author of three books: “The Alcohol Fuel Handbook,” “High Desert Yards and Gardens” and “Rainbows from Heaven.” Doxon wrote the Yard and Garden column for the “Albuquerque Journal” and numerous magazine and newspaper articles and cooperative extension service guides.