If you are planning a summer garden, one of the first things you are going to need to know is the type and quality of the soil you are working with. Soil quality is crucial to a good harvest of fruits and vegetables, so being informed about your particular soil can help you make adjustments and additions to it so it will work better for you. If your garden isn’t producing like you want it to, then the soil just might be the culprit. Here’s some helpful information on soil testing, and how you can grow a better garden this year.
First, soil testing is really only necessary if you are planting in the ground. Container gardens usually are done with bagged soil, which is already perfect for growing.
Here’s a quick step by step guide to help you test your soil:
Fill a quart size canning jar 1/3 of the way to the top with dirt from your garden space. Then add in some water, filling it a couple of inches from the top. Add in a teaspoon of powdered dishwasher detergent and screw on the top of the jar. Shake your jar vigorously (you’re wanting the soil to separate). After a couple of minutes, you can see the sand in your soil sink to the bottom. Mark that level with a permanent marker on the side of the jar. Now let your jar sit undisturbed for a couple of hours, and mark a line where the silt level has collected on the sand. Finally, let it sit for 2-3 more days and you will see the clay level on top.
This process will tell you if your soil is mostly clay, sand, or silt. Based off your findings, you’ll need to treat your soil accordingly.
If you have mostly sand in your soil, you’re going to want to add some 2-4 inches of organic matter into the soil in your garden now, and repeat it yearly. You will also need to mulch your garden really well.
If you have mostly clay soil, you’ll need to add in 2-3 inches of compost or other organic matter now, and repeat with 1 inch of organic matter yearly.
If you have mostly silt, just add in 1 inch organic matter over the garden now, and repeat yearly.
Soil testing is super simple, and it just takes a few days to know the results, and get your garden ready for planting.
Knowing your soil type ahead of planting can make growing a garden so much easier, because you will treat the soil, and put plants into optimal growing matter. This will help your plants to grow and produce better over the course of the growing season. You may want to test your soil yearly, to see if conditions stay the same, and treat accordingly.
What are some other things you do to prepare your land for the most productive garden?