Soil Texture

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Writer: Tom Myrick

Sponsored By: LawnCare by Tom

Soil conditions vary; however, there are some common soil requirements for most vegetable plants. Vegetable garden soil should not consist of excessive sand or clay. It should support lose and well-draining qualities. A combination of sand, silt, and clay constitute most soils. The relative percentage of this combination is the soil texture.

Test the Soil’s Texture:
1. Dig-up 1 cup of soil from 4 – 6 inches below the surface of your garden from 3 – 4 different areas.

2. Remove any debris and break up clumps. Add the soil to a jar. Fill no more than half of the jar or less than 2 inches with soil.

3. Add 1 Tbsp. of dish detergent to the jar (detergent will extract the soil particles into layers). Fill the jar ¾ full of water. Put on a tight-fitting lid and shake the jar until well mixed with no soil adhering on the bottom.

4. Set the jar on a level surface to allow settling over several days. The soil will separate to sand, silt, and clay, in that order from the bottom up. The layers will vary in color, allowing you to see how the percentages accumulate.

The bottom layer tells you how sandy the soil. Next is the silt, and the clay is the top layer.

• 80 – 100% sand particles, the soil is considered sandy.
• 50% or more clay particles, the soil is considered clay.
• Roughly equal parts clay, sand, and silt, the ground is deemed to be loamy. Loamy soil is ideal texture because it allows the soil to drain and while retaining water long enough for plants to absorb it.

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Image by: Richard Wheeler

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Published by

Tom Myrick

"When life kicks you in the butt, use it as energy for forward motion", Tom Myrick. I graduated from the Media Production Technology Curriculum at Tidewater Community College in 1988. Working as a professional Media Production Specialist/Photojournalist for most of my adult life, I became proficient in many aspects of multimedia production. In 2006, I completed the Master Gardener program and started attending horticulture classes at a local community college. Writing, photography, and gardening are passions of mine; altogether, a “marriage made in heaven". Having a diversified set of work skills and a lifetime of experience, I currently write for several online vegetable gardening publications and own a landscaping business. My mission is to encourage vegetable gardening throughout the world. Play in the dirt, Tom