Soil Texture

Soil texture is determined by the size of the rock particles it contains. The  3 classifications are: sand, silt and clay. Almost all soils are made up of different combinations of these three. Knowing the texture of the soil in your garden or yard is important because it will help you to know how to amend it, if needed.

It’s simple to get an idea of the texture of your soil by simply rubbing some moist soil between your thumb and finger. The grittier it feels, the more sand it contains. If it is silky smooth, the more clay it contains. Under a microscope, the sand particles appear gigantic, while the clay particles are very tiny. The silt is very small,  not nearly as large as the sand but not quite as small as the clay particles.

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Soil pH Level

There is a pH scale that measures if your soil is acidic or alkaline.

 

0…………………………………7……………………………….14

Pure Acid                      Neutral                          Pure Lye

(The numbers increase in geometric progression: so pH 6 is 10 times more acid than pH 7, and pH 5 is 100 times more acid than pH 7, and so forth)

Most plants prefer pH 6.5 – 7.00

Very few plants would be able to live in soil that is outside the pH 4 – 8 range.

Some plants need more acidic soil, such as blueberries or azaleas and rhododendrons, while others need more alkaline soil.

This is where a soil test can be very helpful. Changing the pH of the soil is difficult, so knowing your soil  pH and the requirements of the plants you want to grow is very important.

If soil is too acid, lime can be added to raise the pH. Read the label to know how much to add, how and when.

 

Soil Richness

The plants take up nutrients through their roots. If the soil is rich in nutrients, the plant grows and thrives. If the soil is poor, or has few nutrients, then the plant struggles and doesn’t flourish. It may even die.

Commercial fertilizers can be added to soil to improve it’s nutrient level, but they don’t do anything for the texture of the soil. Organic matter added to the soil not only adds lots of nutrients but also improves the soil texture.

Organic matter can be compost, ground leaves, grass clippings, composted manure etc. The more composted (or broken down) the better.

Growing plants remove a lot of the nutrients from the soil and so it is important to regularly add them back in.