How do they do it?


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I have a dream of a few acres of land with a good size garden plot. Maybe 50'x50'. Here in north Florida, our soil is really just sand. Even if I go as far as crestview, the farthest north we would consider and the cheapest area around, its still just sand. There is a 5 acre plot available at a reasonable price, but it is also pretty heavily forested. So we would have to clear a portion of it (Id like two acres for homesite and yard/garden) and still be left with....you guessed it, SAND! I imagine the easiest solution would be to bring in a load of manure and/or compost and work it into the sand with a garden tractor. Or heavily and frequently fertilize! The question is though, One; is that really the easiest method, and two; how often will that need repeated? Right now this is still kind of in the dream phase, but Ill be retiring from my first career in under four years, so we are starting to think of this more. I have a raised bed right now (5x16) but thats not really practical for a larger plot. I guess this is the price we pay for the extended growing season.
 
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Meadowlark

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A load maybe two of good top soil would go a long ways to improving that soil. After that its a continuous process of adding nutrients.

My garden is about 70 x 40 . I've found that a good small garden tractor is ideal for working it. With a small tractor and long rows it is actually easier to work than raised beds and some small gardens. I bought a Kubota 23 hp about 30 years ago and it is worth more today than what I paid for it. The work savings is unbelievable.
 
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The do it once method in sand involves biochar. A large sack is 2 cubic yards and is roughly 500 bucks. Specify your grind but not finer than rice grains. All else will leach, or be eaten and then leached, and the effectively permanent carbon biofilter effect of the char will be seen as wise in the long run. That first effort can be tilled into the soil which will be brilliant. The general consensus is that biochar is only useful in soils with little to no organic matter. My clay and your sand fit that bill.
 
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The do it once method in sand involves biochar. A large sack is 2 cubic yards and is roughly 500 bucks. Specify your grind but not finer than rice grains. All else will leach, or be eaten and then leached, and the effectively permanent carbon biofilter effect of the char will be seen as wise in the long run. That first effort can be tilled into the soil which will be brilliant. The general consensus is that biochar is only useful in soils with little to no organic matter. My clay and your sand fit that bill.
Good to know!
 
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Just curious .........Why not "further north than Crestview"......where there's actual soil instead of sand. I am a native Floridian (born in Pensacola), but you couldn't put me in a sack, shake me up and pour me out on the sand state (to live there).:LOL:.....Alabama is a "backwards" state (IMHO), where the state government WILL bite it's nose off, to spite it's face.....but it's got SOIL........
 
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I'm a transplant here, but we love the area. And we enjoy being close to the beach, like 15 minutes close. If we lived in Crestview, or further north, the beach would be too far to be practical for a relaxing morning on the beach. And we enjoy the lifestyle here. Sand is annoying, but so is winter; so it's a trade off I guess.
 

alp

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Just do it bit by bit and add loads of manure in raised beds! Rome is not built in one day! I wish I had the chance to buy so much land.
 

MaryMary

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If they are going to cut down trees to clear land for the house and yard, maybe you could make a hugelkultur garden?

I searched "hulgelkultur in sandy soil," and it works in the sand in Texas!!

Our farm in East Texas has mostly acidic sandy soil, devoid of life and organic matter, so building up the soil through sheet mulching is the only way we can effectively garden here. Hugelkultur is a technique that is showing a lot of promise.
 
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MaryMary

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Make sure the tree trunk is totally dead though or you will have shoots everywhere in the trench!

Well now. That brings up another idea! (y)

If the 5 acre plot is heavily forested, one would assume that no one has been going out and removing any of the fallen trees and/or branches. You could probably find a few already decaying, and get a jump start on it! (What kind of trees are we talking about? Would you be able to rake up a nicely decomposed pile of leaves, also?)
 
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IF we did this, most likely trees are pine and oak. Possibly magnolia. Those are the common native trees around here. The plot were eying now is a mix of those three, but I haven't hiked it yet to check.
 

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