Types of Soil
Understanding the different types of soil is essential for any gardener, no matter the scale. There are usually four types of soil. Before you dig around your backyard or somewhere on your farm, know the basics of the types of soil. They include sandy, silty, clay, and peaty (usually referred to as peat moss) soils. Every area you may check can usually have a combination of these garden soils. Some will be more prolific than others, depending on the area you live in. Coastal areas are more sand and silty. As you go to the center of the United States, you will find more clay and peaty kinds of soil.
You want to read up on the plants you plan on having in your garden. Be sure to find out which grows best in the soil you have. Many times you, will have to add soil you purchase from a hardware store or local farm store. Usually, the four different soil types combined work well, but if you have too much clay, it will be harder to germinate plants from seeds. Clay is solid, and water and air are harder to get through. Having sandy or silty soil is better, but without the combination of peat moss or clay, your soil will not hold together well. You want air and water to go through it more evenly providing for a healthier soil.
Sandy Garden Soil
Sandy soil is abundant in some areas closer to the coast. It’s a grittier soil that is drier and loose. It should be used with peaty soil and some clay to help retain water. It doesn’t do well on its own. By itself, sandy soil is not the best gardening soil to use because water can drain to places that you don’t want it to go to. Your goal is to get the water to the roots of the plants. Runoff is a big problem for plants that are in primarily sandy soil. To see if it’s just sandy soil, mix it with water in your hand. If you check this gardening soil this way, you will be able to determine the type of gardening soil thoroughly. If you can’t form a ball and it crumbles easily, then it’s definitely sandy soil. It will fall right through your fingers.
Silty Garden Soil
The second gardening soil is silty. The particles are small, and it stays smooth. It is very slick when it is wet, and dirt will be left on your hand when you touch it. This kind of gardening soil does do well with water and can retain it better than sand. However, it isn’t a great prospect for soil alone. It doesn’t retain many nutrients or drain well by itself. It also doesn’t retain any heat. This cold garden soil can be easily compacted because air doesn’t flow through it well.
Clay Garden Soil
Clay as a garden soil has some of the smallest particles. It has good water storage qualities but sticks together. It is heavy and smooth when in a dry state. The tiny particles are so compact together that air has a hard time passing through it. It can hang on to nutrients easier like glue because of its compact nature. It can help plants with growth because it is able to warm up quickly in spring and summer months. This kind of garden soil you can form into a ball or longer shape in your hands. If it does this, you’re dealing with clay.
Peaty Soil Or Peat Moss Garden Soil
Peaty soil is sold in stores but can also be found right in your backyard. It is the best kind of soil to use, especially in potted plants. It is typically a blackish or dark brown color that is soft and easily pushed together. This soil is high in organic matter and has been around for centuries. It is essentially dead plants and other decay that has turned into a fine soil. Water and air can easily breathe through it, and it contains a lot of nutrients. It soaks up water easily and becomes heavy because of this. However, the soil can drain the easier, which is why most people have holes in the bottom or sides of pots. It can also become very dry if you don’t water it enough. This kind of garden soil contains highly acidic water but can be regulated to have better pH levels. If you squeeze a chunk with water, the water will come out of it. It is very spongy like and easy to move around.
Common Soil Contents
Gardening soil can be made up of several elements. Soil contains water, decayed plants, air, minerals, and organic matter. The more organic matter you have, the more your soil health improves. All organic matter is essential for what the soil does to your plants. Healthy soils allow air and water into them. This is also essential and makes it a pleasant environment for organisms that live in the soil and the plants you want to grow in it.
What Makes Up Soil?
Soil is made up of several different components:
Health of Garden Soil
If you need to improve the soil health, it is fairly simple. Make sure you have tools that can till the soil and move it around as much as possible. This will allow you to have different plants in your garden each year. By tilling the soil, you will be able to rotate vegetables and have a variety of different herbs and vegetables in your garden. Additionally, by covering soil areas that are more difficult to use, this can help improve the quality of the soil.
Interesting Gardening Soil Facts
There are several healthy soil facts that you might not know can be beneficial or interesting to you. It can take 2,000 years for natural processes to make 10 centimeters of fertile soil from rock. When you keep soil covered, it helps the microorganisms and nutrients make the soil healthier. Areas that have fences around rows of crops or around your garden can help soil become healthier. Different organic matter at high levels help keep water while also improving soil health. Garden soil around different tree species can also allow for healthier garden soil.
Other Facts About Soil
There are other facts about soil that you'll want to know before using it:
Preferred pH for Gardening
The pH level for your gardening soil is very important. All plants have different needs and levels of acidity that help them grow best. You want to look at a soil pH chart so you can understand what the different plants will need. This way, you are able to fix the pH level accordingly for each type of plant and herb you will grow. The pH level of 6.5 is usually right for most home gardens to flourish. Check if your vegetable is more exotic or something out of the norm compared to what you’re used to growling. The pH of a garden determines whether your garden will succeed each year. Knowing the pH of your soil and your soil components are essential for the development of the crops you choose. There are several plants that enjoy an acidic environment, but some cannot flourish in the slightest with higher pH levels.
Garden soil typically comes in a variety of forms, and some are better to use than others. All soil contains a few of nature’s elements, including water, air, some organic matter, rocks, and other materials. Most areas that you plan on gardening are a mixture of all four kinds of soil. It is best to have a mixture, as each one provides a better element than the others. Heavy silt areas or sand can be beneficial for some plants, but most everyday gardens do well with a mixture of clay and peaty areas. They have better elements that retain heat and moisture that are essential for gardening. Always understand the pH levels in the soil you’re using to plant. There are charts you can buy to better figure out what plants do best in certain levels of pH. You don’t want accidentally kill off plants if they can’t thrive in the level that’s in your particular soil.