In a recent article I wrote regarding the three main components of soil (sand, silt, and clay), I received the following question: “What’s a quick way to tell what kind of soil I have in my garden?” Here’s the quick and “dirty.”
There are three main types of soil: light sand, heavy clay and loam (loam being an equal mixture of sand, silt and clay). To determine the nature of your soil, here’s a quick do-it-yourself test:
Take a garden shovel and turn over a shovel full of soil. With your hand, grab a handful of soil and squeeze it together in a ball. If it does not stick together well, the soil is probably sandy, if it forms a sticky ball that does not easily come apart, the soil is clay. Soil that forms a ball, then crumbles easily and is not particularly sticky is considered loam.
Your goal in cultivating your soil is to create a loamy soil. Loam soils hold moisture and nutrients around the root zone, and drain well enough to deliver needed oxygen to the roots.