Soil is the base of the garden, the entity that provides nourishment to your plants and makes its survival easy.
Some people take soil for granted but know that it is the most important survival factor for plants. If you don’t use good quality, clean and nourishing soil in your garden, then you can give up your dream of having a lush green garden. If you are unable to grasp this concept then let’s take the example of humans…
We need natural food and non-polluted environment to make us healthy, similarly plants need soil for their proper growth. It contains a lot of minerals and organic materials that man cannot produce. In addition to that, it stores the essential nutrients present in the fertilisers and plants consume them from time to time. The composition of soil can be distributed in the following way:
* Water — 25% * Minerals — 45% * Air — 25% * Organic matter — 5% An interesting fact about soil is that it hosts a lot of pests and insects. Some of them are capable of damaging plants while others benefit from the pests and insects excretions. Through this cycle nature makes sure that every creature gets what it needs.
Factors You Should Consider While Selecting Soil
If you are new to the garden then you need to pay extra special attention to the matter of soil ph levels; as it is one of those important things that decides the overall look and quality of your garden and healthy your plants will become.
Moreover, you should know what is the nutrient or material composition of your soil. This is the only way through which you can evaluate if it is good for your plants or not.
Do not compromise the health of your plants by having the wrong type of soil. Here are a few factors that you should look out for when you are on a soil hunt for your garden…
Salt Levels — You should know the salt level of your soil because majority plants are unable to survive in high salted soils.
Plant Compatibility — Not all types of plants can grow in all types of soils. Therefore, before you purchase a new type of soil consult a gardener or skin
through the internet to find out if its compatible for your plant type of not.
Avoid Heavy Soils — Heavy soils have high quantity of sand, which means that the nutrient constituency decreases drastically. This can lead to poor soil drainages, which in turn will rot the roots. If you create a healthy environment for your plants, you will see your garden flourishing.
Various soil types are distinguished on the bases of composition of minerals, texture and weather compatibility. These may seem like minor factors separately, but altogether they are responsible for the health and growth of your plants. This thin layer of earth determines the growth of your plants.
Below is a list of some basic soil types. However, you can change the texture of these soils by including various components so that they are compatible with the surrounding environment.
For example, you can add more sand to make it dense (although most plants cannot survive in dense soil) or you can add more clay to the sand to increase its density and mass.
Keep one important thing in mind before changing the texture of your soil; make sure that your plants are compatible with your newly introduced texture. Let’s take a look at the soil types so you can narrow down your soil selection process.
If you ever get to touch this type of soil, you will feel that it is smooth and slippery between your fingers, almost dust like. Plus, once you toss it back to the ground you will see that your hands have turned dusty. You can identify silty soil by the following features:
* The physical texture of the soil is represented in the form of tiny particles
* It has no rocky or grainy particles
* It can be easily compacted
* It’s easy compactness can make its aeration poor
* It has a high tendency to retain water
* When combined with water, it gets really slippery
* Dry soil can easily be transported with wind *
It has poor drainage but it tends to stay cold
* It is one of the most fertile soils
* It is considered good for agricultural purposes
The soil’s compatibility can be reduced by avoiding walking on it but since you garden is already confined to a box, that won’t be a problem. If you want to reduce it further, try adding a bit of sand or clay.
Silty soil is considered good for almost all types of vegetables and fruits. However, there are a few types of plants that can grow in this type of soil. These include Milkweed, Red Chokeberry and Yellow Iris.
The main component in this type of soil is sand, which makes its texture rough. If you rub it in your hands harshly, you will feel its pointy edges penetrating your skin. Despite that most people find sandy soil easier to work with. If you moisten this soil and try rolling it in a ball, it will crumble through your fingers.
Sandy soil is often categorised as ‘hungry’ soil because it requires a lot of feeding but if you take proper care of it, you won’t face any problems. Here are the main characteristics of the soil:
* It has the largest particles among all soil types
* It has a light color
* It’s large particles enable it to drain water more easily
* Sandy soil has good aeration
* It is categorised as a warm soil
* The nutrient constituency in sandy soil is quite low
* When you touch it, you will feel its gritty and dry
* If it does not have a high constituency of organic matter, it will dry easily Plants that can survive in this type of soil include Hibiscus, Cistus and Tulips.
Unlike silty soil, sandy soil can provide a homely environment for a very few crops. They include peaches, peanuts and watermelons.
This type of soil is pretty much like clay; smooth when dry and sticky when wet.
Clay soil, when dry, can be very heavy, which makes it hard to work with, particularly in the warm season when all the water evaporates and you are left behind with heavy soil.
On the other hand, if you try working with wet clay soil, it can easily get damaged. It is not suitable for area that experience heavy rain falls, as its poor drainage can lead to the suffocation of plants’ root. The main features of clay soil are listed below:
* Its physical texture is represented by fine particles
* It has a high tendency to retain water
* Clay soil is very rich in nutrients
* Its texture makes it a very dense soil
* Its ability to retain moisture decreases its aeration
* Clay soil is one of the cool soils
* It has very poor drainage
Clay soil can contribute positively in the growth of tomatoes, peas, leafy vegetables and pepper. Moreover, the plants that can survive in this type of soil are Asters, Roses, Chaenomeles and Heleniums.
Peaty Soil – Ideal for garden planting
This soil type is almost 9,000 year old. Its formation started with the melting of snow glaciers. The melted glaciers drenched the plants present in that area, which after drying and decaying took the form of peaty soil which is brilliant for garden planting by the way . This is one of the reasons that it is commonly found in bogs. The main features of the peaty soil are mentioned below:
* Peaty soil is usually dark brown in color
* When you touch it, it will feel spongy and soft
* It can retain water
* Peaty soil has good drainage
* It is rich in acidic water
* It has a high tendency to store nutrients
* Despite being nutrient rich, it is not very fertile
* Peaty soil has the power to enhance soil buffering
* Good drainage allows proper aeration of the soil
* The constituency of organic matter in the soil is quite high There are a very few types of plants that can grow in this type of soil.
On top of the list are Sedges, Sphagnum Moss and Ericaceous Shrubs. But its use is not restricted to these plants; you can mix peaty soil in other types of soil to enhance the soil quality.
As the name suggests, this type of soil contains high constituency of salt due to which it is found mainly in dry coastal regions and semi arid areas. This high salt constituency is the result of soluble salt accumulation in the rhizosphere.
A downside to having this type of soil is that it rejects water, which increases the chances of drought in plants. Do not use this soil if you reside in a humid region. The features of saline salt are stated as under:
* The presence of high quantity of salt can be damaging for the growth of various plants. Moreover, it can hinder germination and make the irrigation process complicated
* You will find a thin coating of white powdered substance on the top of the soil
* 50% of the soil is composed of magnesium, calcium and sodium
* The presence of neutral salts enhances the overall permeability of the soil Sugar beets and kochia are two of the few crops that can tolerate salinity on salt. The plants that can withstand high salt constituency include Sea Buckthorn, Siberian salt tree and Silver Buffaloberry.
Loamy soil is a combination of silt, clay and sand and is every gardener’s favorite soil! The combination of three balanced soil types makes it an ideal soil for plants and crops.
When you touch it, you will see that it is soft and crumbly. This is what makes working with it so much fun and easier. These are some important features of loamy soil:
* Its physical composition is in the form of granular particles
* It is very fertile
* Loamy soil is dark in color
* It has the ability to retain nutrients
* Loamy soil has good aeration
* Soil drainage is considered very good
* It can retain water
* It is rich in organic matter
* High constituency of organic matter and nutrients means that it has high calcium levels, which consequently leads this soil to having high pH levels.
Crops that can survive in this type of soil include potatoes, turnips, carrots and tomatoes.
In addition to that, there are a few types of plants that can grow in peaty soil. They include Marigolds, Roses, Zinnias and Amaryllis.
*This is a collaborative post