How to Grow Vegetables in Sand


Soil is composed of rock particles, organic matter, water and air. You can grow vegetables in soil that is comprised mostly of sand, but it poses some challenges. Sand does not retain moisture, which means it will warm up quickly in hot temperatures. But heat-loving vegetables such as tomatoes and eggplants can thrive in sand. To find out if you have soil that is made of sand, rub your fingers through a handful of the soil. If it falls apart and feels gritty, the soil is made mostly of sand.

Preparing the soil

Step 1

Add organic matter or fertilizer to your soil. Regardless of type, soil that has nutrients is better for vegetables. For sand, you can add organic matter to improve the quality of the growing area, or you can add a commercially purchased liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer. Spread a 1/2-inch layer of organic matter across entire planting area. Use manures, leaves or compost. These are used to improve the sand texture and structure, making it more fertile and allowing it to hold water better. Turn into the soil with a shovel. To add fertilizer, use a hose and attachable fertilizer can, or a watering can. Add one capful of the 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer to the sand for each square foot of planting space. If you choose to use this method, you will need to fertilize daily.

Step 2

Rake planting area. Smooth out any clumps and remove rocks to prepare the area for planting. The day before planting, water with an overhead sprinkler for at least 1 hour.

Step 3

Plant vegetable plants or seeds. Mark rows using the edge of a hoe. Follow planting directions on seed packages for needed depths. Water daily until seeds sprout after planting. Sand does not retain water, so daily watering is recommended; do not allow garden beds to dry out.

Step 4

Fertilize using a commercial fertilizer or an organic compost tea. This keeps nutrients in the soil throughout the growing season. Fertilize again after the first harvest or picking. If using the fertilizer method, fertilize the planting area daily.

Tips and Warnings

  • During hot summer months, water frequently.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Rotted manure
  • Shredded leaves
  • Commercial liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer
  • Vegetable seeds or plants
  • Shovel or spade
  • Rake
  • Gloves
  • Water hose
  • Fertilizer can attachment


  • "The Vegetable Gardener's Bible"; Edward C. Smith; 2009
  • "Gardening in Sandy Soil"; C.L. Fornari; 1997.

Who Can Help

  • Types of Soil
Keywords: sandy soil, vegetable plants, heat-loving vegetables

About this Author

Carmel Perez Snyder is a freelance writer living in Florida. She attended the University of Missouri and has been a journalist for more than 12 years. Her work has appeared in the AARP Bulletin, the Oklahoma Gazette, the Amarillo Globe-News, and eHow.