Simple test to determine soil type:
Take a handful of moist soil and squeeze it. When you open your hand, a good loam soil will remain a pliable ball that breaks apart with a touch of your finger. Good loam will have a gritty feeling and is usually dark in color.
A fine clay soil will remain in a doughy, slippery ball when you open your hand. It feels smooth to the touch and sticky to the touch when wet. Clay soil after rainfall or watering, the surface may back into a hard crust that prevents water and air from reaching plant roots. Clay is the most difficult soil type to manage, but with the addition of sufficient sand and organic amendments, it can be turned into loam.
A moist handful of sandy soil will form a shape when squeezed by barely holds together.
Don’t forget to use mulch around your plants. This helps reduce water evaporation keeping water in the soil. Organic mulches included aged manure, compost, and bark chips, or wood chips. Organic mulches increase the soils ability to store water by covering and cooling the soil thereby minimizing evaporation. Mulches also reduce erosion and help with weed control. Inorganic mulches such ass rocks and gravel will actually re-radiate the sun’s heat and can increase the amount of water that surrounding plants will need.
Smart Soil Care Tips
- Top your soil. Adding compost or mulch to your soil helps hold water in and minimize evaporation by keeping the soil covered and cooled.
- The sponge effect. Compost and mulch also hold water like a sponge, slowly releasing water when your plants need it.
- Stop that runaway terrain! Healthy soils also slow down erosion of sediments to rivers and streams.
- Go au natural. Avoid pesticides and weed killer since they can harm worms and other soil organisms that create healthy soils. Choose natural or organic alternatives.