Checking garden soil – different ways

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Do you know how to test your garden soil? It is important to do so, in order to figure out what kind of amendments your soil needs. There are a few different ways to test your soil, and we will discuss them in this blog post. Soil testing is essential for success in gardening – read on to find out more!

Why do you need soil testing in your garden?

Why do you need soil testing in your garden?
Photo from @jonathangreen_lawn

There are several reasons why you might want to check your garden soil. One is to find out what amendments your soil needs. Another reason is to see how well your plants are growing. A soil analysis can also help you troubleshoot any problems you may have with your plants.

In addition, it is the soil diagnostics that will be able to show you if you have any problems with your plants and how to enhance their growth. Soil testing is especially important to learn about what areas of soil your garden has. This will allow you to plant things in it that you have not grown before.

Checking soil for porosity

Checking soil for porosity
Photo from @provenwinners

To check the porosity of the soil, you need to dig a hole in it about 10 inches deep. Then pull out a large piece of soil from that depth and knead it in your hands. If the soil has crumbs of different sizes and also retains its shape, then your soil is highly porous.

Porous rocks allow for better oxygen flow through and also increase water flow. These indicators indicate that many plants grown in such soil will have strong and healthy roots. This is especially important for plant species that most often suffer from root rot. They will not be able to rot in such soil.

Checking for soil density

Checking for soil density
Photo from @cchara.agriandenvironscientist

Testing for soil density is important to find out how much water it can hold. There are several ways to test the soil in your garden:

  • One way is to take a small sample of soil and try to make a ball out of it. If the ball crumbles easily, the soil is too dry. If the ball stays together but is hard to crush, it means the soil is dense;
  • The second method is more reliable. You need to take a thin wire and gradually introduce it into the soil. When you feel the stop, you should not apply pressure. Pull out the wire and mark a spot on it. If the wire hits solid soil about a foot deep, it means the soil is not compacted. But if it is less than a foot, it means the soil is very dense;

Dense soil does not reduce access to water for the roots of the plant, nor does it allow abundant fuctition of air.

Checking the soil for pH

Checking the soil for pH
Photo from @ubuyindia

The pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. A pH of seven is neutral, below seven is acidic, and above seven is alkaline. Most plants prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between six and seven.

To test soil for pH, you need to take about 20 grams of soil, mix it with water in a 20 ml beaker, and stir it well for 5 minutes.

Then you need to cover the glass with a lid and leave it for 1 hour. After that, we strain the water through a filter and measure it with a tester from a gardening store to measure the pH level.

Complete soil testers – professional help

Professional soil testing is having your soil material collected by a specially trained person and submitted to a laboratory for testing. This method is relevant to those gardeners who want to start farming and want full control over their plot.

Water uptake by soil

Water uptake by soil
Photo from @weldongardenservices

This soil check will give you an idea of how fast the soil dries out from the rain, so you can calculate the optimal amount of watering for your plants as a result.

You need to wait until there is a heavy rain and the soil is well moistened. Then time it when the soil is completely dry. If it does so too quickly, it means the soil is porous and lets the water pass through very well. In that case, you will need to water more often. If the soil will be wet for 4-5 hours, the soil is too dense, so you need to reduce watering to avoid a swamp.

Presence of earthworms in the soil

Presence of earthworms in the soil
Photo from @theuglygarden_

The presence of earthworms is a good sign of healthy soil. Their population can be affected by changes in the environment, so their presence or absence can give you some idea of what may be going on in the soil. To check for earthworms, dig over a handful of soil from different areas of your garden and look for them in the root zone. If you don’t find worms, then there are serious problems in your soil. These include organic matter, fertilizers, and too dense a structure that prevents the worms from moving around, and it also affects less water passage. Such soil should always be loosened.

If you see a couple or more worms in the soil, that’s very good. After all, this indicates that your soil contains many beneficial substances that help the worms reproduce abundantly. And the more worms in the soil, the more aeration the soil gets, as well as saturating it with beneficial enzymes, bacteria and nutrients for healthy plant growth.

Checking for soil type

Checking for soil type
Photo from @thetangledjunglebylou

The best way to check is to take a small sample and feel it, followed by a description of the types of soil:

  • If the lump of soil holds its shape well, it means you have clay soil;
  • If the lump visually holds its shape, but when you press on it, it starts crumbling at once, it means you have a loamy type of soil;
  • If the soil does not form into a lump at all, it means you have sandy soil.
Nicolas Wayne

Gardening and lawn care enthusiast

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