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Assessing Your Garden’s Soil

Touch test (approximate method)
The garden soil in which your plants grow help to hold the plant upright, supply food, water, and air to the roots. Some soils are capable of meeting these requirements with very little amendment. Such soils are called loam soils. Containing a mixture of different-size soil particles and organic matter. If you have a garden with rich, fertile soil, you won’t need to add anything.

This test involves rubbing a bit of dry or moist soil between your fingers and noting its characteristics.

Soil texture- Dry soil- Moist soil

Sandy soil-Grains of sand are visible to the naked eye. The soil runs between your fingers like sugar. The soil is very gritty and rough.-The soil doesn’t clump together easily, and breaks apart when prodded with a finger. The soil isn’t sticky between your fingers; it is rough and gritty.

Silty soil-The soil looks powdery or floury. The soil feels soft.- The soil is very soft and slippery, like soap. It can be rolled into a coil, which breaks apart if you try to bend it. The soil isn’t very sticky.

Clay soil – The soil contains very hard lumps that are difficult to break apart. – The soil is very sticky; it is smooth and shiny. The soil is easy to mould; it can be rolled between the fingers into a long, flexible coil.

Loam – The soil is a bit gritty. The clumps will not break if handled carefully. – The soil is slightly sticky and gritty. If rolled between the fingers, the soil will form a coil that cracks slightly.

Jar of water test (approximate method)
Place one or two cups of soil in a clear glass jar that holds about 1 litre and add water almost to the brim. Shake the mixture vigorously for a few minutes, then let it stand for at least 24 hours, because the clay may take several days to settle (it will settle more quickly if you add 2 tsp table salt).

The mixture will gradually form layers, with sand on the bottom of the jar, silt in the middle and clay on top. Organic matter will float to the surface. You can calculate the percentage of each element according to the depth of each layer.

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