Professional farmers can easily tell what type of soil they have and what type of crop would work best in that soil.
Urban farmers who have a smaller plot of land to work with may not inherently know what soil type they have nearby.
Contrary to what most people believe, there are several types of clay soils and sandy soils out there. Some of these soils are naturally fertile while others take a little bit of work to produce crops.
Additionally, urban soils have certain considerations you have to bear in mind. For example, when you live in the city, your soil may contain contaminants, such as lead.
Before you plant anything, you should first test your soil to make sure it is healthy.
You may discover your soil has elevated toxicity, and there are steps you can take to bring it back to ideal health.
Every variation of soil has specific characters that make it unique. Once you know what variation you have, you can learn about its pros and cons. Every type of soil has its own unique elements.
There are three main types you should familiarize yourself with.
What is Silt Soil?
Silt soil consists of medium-sized particles. This allows it to hold a good amount of water, but it will not flood your crops.
It also holds some of the nutrients, but you will not see the same kind of retention you would with clay.
Many gardeners choose to have plots of land that consist mostly of silt.
What is Clay Soil?
Clay is also an essential aspect of your soil because it is inherently high in nutrients. It is also highly capable of retaining moisture, so it will keep your plants hydrated.
However, many gardeners do not like clay soil because it tends to stick to shoes.
The individual clay soil particles are so tiny that they can fill in small crevices in your footwear.
Additionally, when clay soil becomes too dry, it can make your garden look like a desert.
What is Sand Soil?
In many aspects, sand is the polar opposite of clay. There are numerous air spaces in sand due to its large particle size.
This allows it to drain water quickly, and it warms up fast in the spring and summer.
Therefore, you can plant crops in sand soil sooner in spring than if you had clay.
What is Loamy Soil?
What is Peaty Soil?
Peaty soil is relatively rare. It is darker than the other varieties, and it is highly acidic. This allows it to slow down the decomposition, and it results in the soil having fewer nutrients than the other types.
It retains a great deal of water and heats up rapidly during spring. Soil amendments are recommended to raise the pH value of this more acidic soil.
How Can You Find Out What Type of Soil You Have?
You can easily find out what type of soil you have in your garden with a simple mud shake.
To begin, you need to fill up a clear jar with straight sides about two-thirds of the way with water. For the remaining one-third, you need to fill the jar with the soil in your garden.
It is recommended to add just a little bit of laundry detergent to help the individual soil components separate.
From there, you need to shake the jar vigorously and set it in a place where no one will move it for a couple of days.
Over the course of 48 hours, you want to examine the jar every so often. You should see the sand particles separate as they are the heaviest of the bunch and settle at the bottom of the jar. On top of the sand will be a layer of silt.
Finally, the structure should be topped off with clay. You may notice that clay remains suspended and clouds up the water, which is why you need to allow the piece to remain undisturbed.
You may notice some organic matter floating to the top of the jar. It is normal, and you have nothing to worry about.
After a couple of days, you should measure the height of each layer while paying particular attention to the soil.
You can then turn these measurements into percentages, so you know precisely what you have in your garden.
Once you know what type of soil you have, which will most likely be some form of loamy soil, you can take steps to plant the right crops.
You can transform your garden so that it has the ideal ratio of 40% silt, 40% sand, and 20% clay, but that can be time-consuming and expensive.
You can look up online on what crops would work best in the type of soil you do have and work from there.
What Types of Vegetation Can You Grow in Each Variation?
- Citrus trees
Clay soil is not recommended for vegetables that require deep roots. It has an extremely dense texture, so you want to stick with crops that remain shallow.
This includes broccoli, cabbage, black walnut trees, maple trees, pear trees, cherry trees, and edible herbs.
Sandy soil is best for root vegetables. You will want to plant crops like carrots, parsnips, and turnips.
Other items you can grow in sand soil include thyme, creeping juniper, bayberry, and bush clover.
Peaty soil is best when you want to grow some shrubs in your garden. You can grow camellia, witch hazel, lantern trees, and heather.
You will not have as much luck with salad and root crops as well as legumes.
Lastly, you have loamy soil, which provides the best yield of crops. It contains mostly sand but also plenty of clay and silt. It is best for tomatoes, beets, carrots, and other leafy vegetables.
The reason it is so good is that it contains all of the best characteristics of each soil variation to give crops precisely what they need to thrive.
When you need help making your garden as pristine as possible, you need to purchase additional supplies from Harvest Gold Organics. Contact us immediately if you require any assistance figuring out what you need.
You can tell a representative what type of soil you have in your garden so that you get the best advice possible.