The most commonly asked question by gardeners is what are the different types of soil for gardening? If you love gardening plants or vegetables, you should know the different types of soil that are best for your plants. Most people think air and water are two factors that affect the growth of plants. But soil is the home for plants, and selecting the right type of soil for the plants to grow is indeed the major step to reap healthy vegetables.
In this article, we will be discussing the different types of soil for gardening, how to test soil texture and ph, how to improve the soil nutrients and more questions regarding the soil for the garden.
Let us First Know What is Soil?
Soil is broadly termed as loose material that covers the earth’s crust. But to term it as a gardener, the soil is the top 40 cm of ground into which plants and vegetables grow and are harvested. Soil is made of air, water, minerals, living organisms and decomposed organic matter.
You may come across the term dirt, FYI: Soil is alive while dirt is dead. Dirt is soil minus nutrients, minerals and organisms.
Topsoil, potting soil and garden soil might also be the common terms that baffle you if you are a beginner. Let me give you a gist of it, Topsoil is the topmost layer of soil, Potting soil is a special mix of soil used only for potted plants and vegetables and Garden soil is topsoil enriched with nutrients for the plants that grow in the garden.
What are the Different Types of Soil for Gardening?
The four major types of soil for gardening are Sand soil, Clay soil, Silt soil and loamy soil. The soil should be selected based on the types of plants and vegetables to grow.
Sandy soil is sandy in texture. Sandy soil gives good aeration but is prone to erosion because of its loose texture. Thus, making it drain nutrients fast out of the soil. Vegetables that grow in sandy soil are potatoes, carrots, zucchini and lettuce.
Clay soil is heavy soil. It is very dense and holds water that has high nutrients in it. But it also dries out, making it poor drainage. Vegetables that grow in clay soil are cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli.
Silt soil is like clay but has a lesser oxygen flow. These types of soil are found on river banks. They need organic matter depending on the acidic soil type. Vegetables that grow on silt soil are Onion, radish, and garlic.
Loamy soil is a mix of sand, clay, and silt making it the best soil for gardening. The soil has a fine texture and is damp. This soil can be used with little natural fertiliser to grow vegetables or any crops. They are rich in nutrients, water retention capacity, and soil aeration.
Soil Care Tips
- To make your soil more acidic, add sulphur to the soil. If alkaline, add ground lime to it.
- To Renew the soil after every harvest, add natural manure to improve the soil texture.
- Adding more organic matter to soil helps soil hold more nutrients to it.
How to Test the Soil Texture and pH?
There are many ways to test the soil texture and the pH level. Here are some of the easy ways to do it:
- Test to find the soil type with their texture
Take pea-sized soil and rub it on your finger. The soil texture should be tested when they are dry and wet. It is clay if the soil is hard when dry and sticky when wet. If it is light and easy to dig it is sand. If it is sticky and gritty then it is loam. If you are not satisfied with your home test, give it to a nearby centre and test it.
- Test to find the pH level of soil
One way of testing the soil pH is with a litmus kit which contains litmus paper and the resulting kit. Using the mineral water and soil mix, dip the litmus paper and find the colour to see the result. If the pH level is 7 it is neutral, whereas less than 7 is acidic and greater is alkaline. The pH level for garden vegetables differs from 6 to 7.
How to Improve Your Soil?
- The best way to improve your soil is to know what your soil needs.
- Proper maintenance of soil and adding regular nutrients to soil help improve soil health.
- Adding homemade fertiliser, and compost to the soil is healthy as well as cost-efficient.
- Adding the right amount of NPK to the soil also plays a role in improving the soil. Adding natural nutrients is far better than a chemical one. Plants need various other nutrients such as copper, Iron, manganese, and zinc.
- Every garden vegetable requires organic matter in every stage of its growth. It has various benefits such as giving nutrients and losing the soil for root growth.
Best Tips to Choose the Best Soil for Plants
Choosing the right soil for your plant starts with choosing the plant first,
Choose the Plant
First, choose the plant and identify its needs of the plant. Consider checking the plant’s needs starting with the right pH, water, aeration and texture.
Choose the Place of Planting
Choosing the place for the plant is crucial. Some plants prefer shady indoors and some prefer direct sunlight and more air.
Choose the Right Quality Soil
The right quality soil contains organic and many matters to it. Choosing the right quality soil with nutrients, minerals and organic matter is a must.
Prepare the Soil to the Best before Cultivating
The last step is to prepare or amend the soil. Conditioning the soil before cultivation will boost the soil and plant growth.
How to Prepare Your Soil for Gardening Vegetables?
After selecting the type of soil according to the vegetable to be grown in the soil, the next step is preparing the soil.
Tilling the soil for cultivation– This process breaks up the soil to add excess nutrition, mineral or organic matter, whichever is needed. It’s crucial to check the pH often when adding the above-said things. Let the soil dry before tiling. Tilling the moist soil will dry out the soil and make it thin powder-like dirt.
If you feel your garden soil needs a change, remove the top layer of soil and add new soil. Keeping a check on the soil will help you prepare the best for gardening vegetables.
Which Soil is Best for Gardening?
The best soil for gardening is loam soil because of its various benefits. Every good soil should contain organic matter and the right combo of NPK to give soil its life. But it is hard to define only one soil as best because every vegetable has its preferences for soil.
Gardening is not just a hobby it is a free therapy as well as a self-rewarding workout. Happy gardening!
Which soil is best for gardening?
Loamy soil is best for gardening.