What you’ll learn here:
- Understanding soil types to make sure the right soil is in your garden for your specific plants.
- How to discover what type of soil you do have, starting with a quick “feel test
- The challenges and features of main types of soil
- How and why soil additives are vital for a growing garden.
Not all soils are created equal, especially when it comes to serving as the foundation for a flourishing garden. And one of the most challenging parts of choosing the best garden soil is that the right mix depends on several factors, including what type of garden you’re planning.
One of the biggest secrets to turning your black thumb green is learning more about garden soil, and its role in the success of your garden. All too often, the cure for a failing garden can be found in what lies beneath – in the dirt, that is. Just like your plants, the soil is something that needs to be carefully tended and nurtured. Once you’ve pinpointed the specific soil you’re working with – and its strengths and shortcomings – you’ll be better prepared to whip it into shape with a little TLC (and a high-quality garden soil additive).
Today, we’re going to dig into the basics of soil, including how to know which type you have, the right mix for your garden, and how to get any soil up to par with the correct additive.
Digging Up the Dirt on Soil Types
There are many kinds of soil. If you’re struggling to start and maintain a healthy garden, it might be time to tell your soil, “It’s not me; it’s you!” Even though you might think that you’re just not good at gardening, the culprit to your frustrating failures could simply be the soil.
All soils are a combination of rocks, water, and organic matter like bugs and decaying leaves. But the actual mixture that makes up your native soil can vary dramatically depending on where you live:
When it’s dry, clay soil is as hard as a rock and nearly impossible to dig into; when it’s wet, it takes on a sticky, lumpy consistency. It typically offers poor drainage and low air circulation and is challenging to cultivate. In the spring and summer, it warms up very quickly, affecting plant health and watering needs. If you’re able to make positive changes to the drainage potential of clay soil (by using an additive), then this nutrient-rich blend can be an excellent base for happy, healthy plants.
Made up of small rocky bits, sandy soil has a gritty texture and rapid drainage. It’s usually pretty easy to cultivate, but plants can easily become underwater since it dries out quickly. Like clay soil, sandy soil warms up quickly during the spring and summer months. But since sandy soil is so free-draining, nutrients are often too-easily washed through. The result is a “hungry” soil that will need a good additive to feed plants adequately.
Soil that is considered “silty” falls in the middle ground between clay and sand and can be an excellent soil if correctly managed. It’s very smooth and easy to compact, draining well and offering the right amount of nutrients. Silty soil is heavier than sand but more comfortable to work with and cultivate than clay.
Peat, otherwise known as organic matter, is present in high levels in peaty soil – as you’ve probably guessed from the name. This type of soil is relatively acidic, slowing down decomposition, making it possible for organic matter to accumulate quickly. Dark, water-retentive, and quick to warm, peaty soil can support impressive plant growth as long as the right additive or fertilizer is used.
With a high pH (7.5+) and a stony consistency, chalky soil usually overlays limestone bedrock or chalk. It’s free-draining, which quickly depletes the soil of essential minerals such as iron and magnesium. Without the right additives, plants will often show signs of malnutrition, including yellow leaves and slow growth.
Every gardener’s dream soil, loamy soil, has all the characteristics of a perfect foundation for a thriving garden. It retains just the right amount of moisture, warms up quickly without drying out too much, and is exceptionally easy to work with. Packed with nutrients, it’s the ideal soil for growing a wide variety of plants.
What Kind of Soil Do I Have?
If you aren’t sure which type of native soil you’re starting with, a quick “feel test” can help you narrow it down:
- First, scoop about a tablespoon of soil into your hand.
- Using a small amount of water, lightly wet the soil.
- Attempt to roll the soil into a ball. If it easily molds into a ball shape, your soil type is likely similar to clay. Soil that molds but then crumbles is usually somewhere in the middle (between sand and clay), and soil that won’t form into a ball is sandier.
Find the Best Soil for Your Garden
Before you start shopping around for a first-class soil additive, first things first: you’ll need to load up on quality soil. Unless you’re planning to work only with the native soil, you’re going to need at least some soil to fill the planting area.
And while buying soil might sound pretty straightforward, you’d be surprised just how many types and brands you’ll be facing once you’re standing in the soil aisle:
- Topsoil comes in several different grades, but none should be used as the primary soil for planting. Lower grades should be reserved for filling and leveling holes, while higher grades can add organic matter to your native soil.
- Potting soil is often ideal for container gardening and can be used as the main base for planting directly into pots.
- Raised bed mixes are intended for use in raised bed gardening, a popular method for gardeners dealing with low-quality native soil.
- Garden soil is also a mixed soil but is meant for in-ground use only (not raised beds). Usually, gardeners will mix this type into their native soil to create the right combination for planting.
- Cactus, palm, and citrus soil mixes are formulated for fast drainage, which suits citrus trees, palm trees, succulents, and similar plants.
Be mindful of what you want to plant in your garden, then choose your soil accordingly – and you’ll be well on your way to success!
Soil Additives: A Secret Ingredient for Great Gardening
Soil additives are mixtures that enhance your soil, adding in valuable nutrients to support strong, healthy plants. Too many rookie gardeners assume that additives are optional – but they’re vital for a growing garden.
The best garden soil is one that’s combined with an excellent additive, like Harvest Gold Organics® Premium Soil Conditioner. Our innovative additives banishes pests, disease, and other gardening woes with rich nourishing minerals and enhanced with unique silica that regulates water absorption. Once you put it into your soil, your garden will be primed and ready for a successful season ahead.
Get a Smart Start to Gardening with Harvest Gold Organics® Premium Soil Conditioner
Soil quality might be what’s standing between you and a thriving garden – but you don’t have to let dirt get you down. Using Harvest Gold Organics® Premium Soil Conditioner, you can supplement your soil and make it the perfect place to grow happy healthy plants.
Order Harvest Gold Organics® Premium Soil Conditioner for this season’s garden today!