I don’t know about you, but visions of summer tomatoes are starting to dance in my head.
Even though it is too early for planting, it’s the perfect time to start playing in the dirt and preparing the soil in our garden beds.
(I really do love this part.)
If you are new to gardening or want even better tomatoes this season, healthy soil is the best place to start.
Healthy soil is soil that drains well and allows minerals to be easily absorbed by the plant.
Unfortunately, most of us have either clay soil, which has very poor drainage, or sandy soil, which has very poor water retention.
Not sure how much clay or sand is in your soil?
The best way to know is to conduct “the jar test”…..
Analyzing Your Soil Using the Jar Test
You will need:
*A shovel or spade
*A quart-sized jar and lid
Step #1: Dig A Hole
Grab your shovel and dig a hole in an area where you would like to have a garden bed. (Call 811 before you dig–safety reasons!)
Dig up the top layer of grass (or weeds, in my case) and remove as much grass/weeds as possible.
Step 2: Collect a Sample
Fill a quart-sized jar three-quarters full with soil from the hole.
Again, try to remove as much debris and rocks as possible.
Step #3: Fill Jar With Water
Fill the jar with regular ol’ tap water, leaving about an inch of head space. Screw lid on tightly.
Step #4: Shake It Up
Shake the jar up for at least a minute, making sure every last bit of soil gets mixed up in the water.
Step #5: Settle Down
Allow the jar to sit undisturbed for at least a day to allow the soil particles to settle into layers of sand, silt, clay and organic matter:
Sand is the heaviest and largest soil particle so it will settle at the bottom.
Silt is the next largest soil particle and will settle on top of the sand. (Hmm…where is MY silt layer, I wonder?)
Clay is the smallest and finest soil particle and will settle on top of the silt.
Water and organic material will float to the top.
So Now What?
If you are like me and have mostly sand, you will need to add plenty of compost and organic materials (rotted leaves, mulch, etc.) to your soil. This will help the soil retain water and nutrients.
If your jar is mostly full of clay, then you will also need to add plenty of compost and organic materials to the soil. This will improve your soil’s drainage and nutrient absorption.
And if you have a well-proportioned mix of clay, silt and sand, I would like to know where you live so I can move in. 🙂
How does YOUR garden grow?
Share the progress of your garden by linking up with me this growing season!
How to link up:
1. Click on the link below to enter.
2. Copy the url of your gardening post and enter it into the link.
3. Comment and encourage at least one other gardener. 🙂
Click here to enter your link and view the links of others!