Gardening in a sand box?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2009
Gardening in a sand box?
10
Thu, 03-14-2013 - 12:21pm

I'm just curious if anyone has tried gardening in a raised sand box before.  DS told us that he'd like to start a small garden.  We really don't have the space for it, but he does have a sand table from years ago.  Can you think of any reason why gardening in a sand table/box wouldn't work?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-03-2001
Fri, 03-15-2013 - 10:33am

Two issues with growning anything in sand (from experience, living four years in Saudi Arabia!):  you have to water a LOT more often and you have to fertilize with every watering (even if you mix all that sand with compost and top soil  ...). DH used to say everything we grew in Saudi was growing out of a temproary puddle of liquid fertilizer!

Of course, if you removed the sand, fertilizing is less of an issue but it's still a matter of regular watering as containers in general need more watering becasue they are exposed to the elements on all sides (and in this case, on teh bottom as well...) which means they get the full "benefit" of wind and heat which leads to rapid evaporation.

Community Leader
Registered: 02-27-1999
Sun, 03-17-2013 - 11:02pm

Welcome, Jen!  I will ask you, as we would ask any new poster with a question, WHERE is this garden?  A lot of gardening hinges on your zone & geographical location.  Not sure what you mean by "sandbox."  Is it just the box or are you trying to make a garden in sand?  

I have heavy clay soil and lots of "black gold" delta compost here in my Mississippi Delta garden (just SE of Elvis Hell ie Graceland) so we use lots of sand to keep it loose enough not to rootbind our plantings.  Adding sand every few years and working it in with a fork is a good thing.  

We've already established that you are not Ms. Nelson, so tell us...Where are you?  

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2009
Mon, 03-18-2013 - 11:27am

Well, we would take the sand out of the box and replace it with soil.  It's a child's plastic sand table.  We're in the Chicago area, so I think that puts us in zone 5.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2009
Mon, 03-18-2013 - 11:29am

This is similar to our sand table:

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Mon, 03-18-2013 - 9:39pm

One issue with any container is drainage, so you would need to punch some drain holes into the bottom of the table. Otherwise you risk the plants drowning/roots rotting. The other issue would be that you should choose plants with fairly shallow roots. Things like lettuce, beets, radishes, bush beans, flowers with a low profile---generally speaking the taller the plant the deeper the roots need to grow. The table sounds great for kids--right at their height so they can really see the plants growing.

If the gardening bug bites after you start the table garden: if you have room for some 5 gallon pots you could grow some compact veggies. Spacemaster Cucumber does well in containers (needs a little trellis but gets only about 3 ft tall) and cherry tomatoes come to mind.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2009
Wed, 03-20-2013 - 9:40am

I found a blog last night where a lady repurposed her chidren's sandbox as a small garden.  It looks like it worked out OK.  I think we're going to give it a try and see what happens.

Community Leader
Registered: 02-27-1999
Wed, 03-20-2013 - 10:25pm

Cute!  You will need to drill some drain holes in the bottom.  And water often!  

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2009
Fri, 03-22-2013 - 12:26pm

Good point about drain holes in the sandbox.  Our sandbox table is actually a sandbox/water table, so there is one drain hole in the middle.  Do you think that would be enough or do you think we should add a few more?

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Tue, 04-02-2013 - 1:15am

About the drain holes: is the bottom sloped towards existing the drain hole? If yes then it is probably sufficient. Depending on how big the hole is, you might want to put some screen over it so it doesn't get clogged with dirt. 

In my post above (in which the text does not appear) I had said something about drainage, and also about choosing plants with fairly shallow root systems. I think I also mentioned that if you have room for a few large pots that there are some veggies well suited to containers like Space Master cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2013
Fri, 06-28-2013 - 10:05am

Creating a drain hole is a nice idea. You can grow cactus plants in sand box, otherwise you have to mix sand with soil for proper planting.