Determining Your Soil Type

Soil is a big part of a plant’s life. It serves as your garden’s food source as well as its home. Below are a couple simple tests you can do to determine which head of this six-headed monster you’re dealing with.

Squeeze Test: Perhaps the easiest, dampen your soil if it is not already, but not so much that you leave it soaked. Grab a small handful and give it a soft squeeze. If sticky and slick to the touch and remains in the same shape when you let go, chances are you are holding clay soil. If the soil feels gritty and crumbles apart, sandy soil is likely the culprit. Peaty soils will feel spongy. And if it feels smooth and textured and holds its shape for a short period of time, you probably have yourself either loamy or silty soil.

Settle Test: If you want to satisfy your inner desires for a science project, then don your lab coat and goggles, and add a handful of soil to a transparent container or jar with some water and give it a good shake. The next step is playing the waiting game for close to 12 hours before getting the final results.

  • Clay and silty soils tend to leave the water cloudy with a layer of particles at the bottom.
  • Sandy soil will be reminiscent of a shallow lake with mostly clear water and a layer at the base.
  • Peaty soils will leave particles floating on the surface with slightly cloudy water and a thin layer at the bottom.
  • Soils that are chalky are easily identifiable by a layer of whitish, grit-like fragments on the bottom of the container, and the water will have transformed to a pale grey shade.
  • And water that is clear with layered particles on the bottom and the finest particles at the top is most likely loamy soil.

To get your soil feeling its best, check out our tips on mulching, watering your garden and fertilizing.

 

 

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