I live in the midwest, where almost all of the soil has a high clay content. However, I own 5 acres with a creek running through it, and this soil is sandy. So, I have been trying to put in a food forest.
I have tried the Kansas Extension service, but I only succeeded in frustrating them. At the end of our last contact, the gent said "It just occurred to me that most of the Midwest has clay soil, and that might be hampering your success rate"! (I had pointed out the sandy nature of the soil at every contact. I had also asked for a list of plants that did well on sandy soil)
Now I DID get asparagus and daffodils established, and while they are not doing great they are not doing badly either. The American Plum is not doing as well: it is 1/3 the size it ought to be.
I suppose I could try a Sandhill Plum, though after that I do not have a clue as to what to plant. I have never lived on sandy soil and I have no idea what will do well. I also have no way of watering other than with a bucket: fortunately our springtime is wet and it will rain a couple of times a week. I can carry a bucket of water if it does not rain, but not vey often as I am handicapped and it is a great effort for me .
Does anybody know what hardy (zone4) plants do well in sandy soil? The grass is lush and the elm and the Osage Orange trees love it there, but I much prefer small trees that bloom and fruit. It does not have to be the fruit that is sold in stores, as long as it is not poisonous. Chokecherry would be fine, but does it grow well in sand? Even bitter sweet would be fine and nothing will eat that but the birds, but does it grow in sand soil?
I do not know. I have no idea what grows well in sand: only what grows well in clay.
Most common fruit and nut trees, as well as other plants, should be able to grow in a sandy soil, provided two things: 1. there is a good amount of organic matter.....so mulch, mulch, mulch; or if the mulch is a problem with insects (as it is for me), incorporate organic matter.....and 2. you can ensure adequate moisture during dry spells, since sand naturally holds water less than clay. Mulch and organic matter will help with this, but you will need to pay more attention to water and irrigate more than your neighbors growing on clay. Given that you are near a creek, once trees (and perhaps other large plants) reach a certain size the roots should reach the water table and they will become more independent water-wise.
Blueberries love sand as long as it is acidic. Honeyberries, hazelnuts also do well in sand. Ferns, like Ostrich fern and Cinnamon fern for fiddle heads. Jerusalem artichokes as long as the gets a half day of sun. Paw Paw trees should due very well on the creek banks. I would suggest adding some gypsum to the surrounding clay, to chemically breaking it down making lot less dense and sticky. There is a lot of nutrients in the clay alone as long as cations exchange is at appropriate levels. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cation-exchange_capacity ) Addiing organic matters also helps with CEC. Do not add more than 20-30% mulch to clay if you are planting a tree. You will end up will a "clay pot syndrome". The mulch water will absorb and hold the water and the clay will not let it leach out. The result is a drowned tree. Tell tale sign is upon removing the dead tree, is will smell like a septic tank and the soil will be saturated.
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
posted 4 years ago
Terri: Take a hike.
While on your hike, look at what is currently growing in the sandy soil around your neighborhood, and perhaps in nearby neighborhoods. Those are the plants that are likely to do well for you... Also, if one member of a plant genus or family is growing well in sandy places, perhaps other members will also.
raspberries are very independent. transplant before they leaf out and they'll do better - that is early in the spring or bring it in dormant from a supplier. All they seem to need is room away from the grass to get established. Mine flourish with no care but I started them heavily mulched. Very useful preserved fruit to get one through a long winter.
Carmine Jewel dwarf cherry? Developed in Canada, not grafted, bushy, developed for cold, dry locations.........Gurneys.com has them. Projected yields sound really good; tell you more when/if mine fruit.
I would second Autumn Olive; I've heard it does well on sandy soil, though I've no firsthand experience with it in those conditions. Fixes nitrogen, will give you leaves for mulch, and grows fast. Could be grown as a nitrogen fixing companion for other trees, with the berries a bonus.