Soil for the Garden

Soil for the Garden

Soil is the foundation of your healthy garden. Without good soil, nothing else matters.

Soil is important to plants. Without soil, plants cannot grow. Plants require oxygen, water, and nutrients to survive. Soil provides oxygen, water, and essential nutrients for plant growth.

Soil is the foundation for everything you grow. Good healthy soil means healthy plants and vegetables. Bad soil means weak plants and vegetables.

The key to success is starting with good soil. Here are the types of soil you should know.

Soil Types

There are different types of soils for different purposes. Some soils are better suited for growing vegetables, while others are better suited for flowers. No matter which type of soil you decide to purchase, make sure it's organic. Organic soil contains nutrients that plants need.

Sandy Soil

Sandy soil is a type of soil that has poor fertility. These types of soils are characterized by having a high percentage of sand particles.

Sandy soils have a light texture, loose structure, and tend to drain quickly. They are easily worked and usually require little fertilizer. However, they do not retain moisture well and are prone to drying out quickly. These soils often have poor fertility because they lack sufficient organic matter content and lack nutrients. It is poor soil for normal garden plants but mixing it with other types of soil will provide adequate drainage. To help prevent drought stress, apply mulches to slow down evaporation and reduce transpiration rates.

Sandy Soil

Acidic Soil

Soils with lower pH values (below 5.0) are acidic soils. Examples of these types of soils include sandy loams, silty clays, and sandy loams. These types of soils may not hold much organic matter and are generally poor at draining. They are good for lawns and gardens but are not recommended for growing plants.

Acid soils are very common in the humid north temperate region. These soils are usually found in areas where the climate is cold and wet. These soils are often acidic because of the high amount of water present in them. Most of the acid soils belong in the Acrisol group of soils.

The main problem with acid soils is that they tend to be nutrient deficient. As a result, plants growing in these soils have lower yields compared to plants grown in non-acid soils.

Soils that are rich in organic matter are better at buffering the acidity of the soil. In addition, acidic soils are prone to erosion. Therefore, farmers need to take steps to prevent erosion.

Acidic Soil

Clay Soil

Clay soil is soil that is composed of very fine mineral particles, which makes it stickier than other soils. Clay soil has little organic matter, so it doesn’t hold water like loam soil. Clay soil is often used for growing vegetables because it drains slowly. However, clay soil is not suitable for trees.

Clayey soils are generally very fertile and hold onto moisture well. Heavy clay soils are hard and compact, and therefore difficult to work. They are usually loamy and well-drained. Clayey soils contain large amounts of organic matter and are good for growing many types of plants.

When planting in clayey soils, make sure that you prepare them properly. Dig trenches or holes about 6 inches deep and fill them with a mixture of pea stone, sand, and compost. This will give you a firm base for your plants. Then, backfill the hole with the same mix.

You can also apply gypsum to clayey soils. Gypsum is a natural mineral that binds to the soil particles and makes them less likely to wash away during heavy rains and helps in soil compaction.

Clay Soil

Silty Soil

Silty soil is slippery when wet because it contains large amounts of sand particles. These particles are very fine and light, which means they move around easily. They are also smooth, meaning they slide over each other instead of sticking together. Because of this, silt soils tend to be soft and spongy.

When silt is present in the soil, the soil becomes sticky when wet. The soil itself is usually sandy, which means it's made up mostly of small, rounded pebbles. Sand is composed of tiny particles of quartz, feldspar, mica, and clay minerals. As these particles become smaller and finer, they become harder and less likely to stick together. In addition, the particles themselves are smoother, making them easier to slip over each other.

Soils rich in silt may contain large quantities of organic matter, such as decaying plant material. Organic matter helps hold the soil together. However, it does not add much weight to the soil. Instead, it makes the soil softer and more prone to erosion.

The best way to determine if your soil is silty is to dig a hole. If you see gravel at the bottom of the hole, you've found silty soil. If you find gravel mixed with sand, then you have loamy soil. Loamy soil tends to be heavier than silty soil, and it holds onto moisture better.

Silty Soil<

Alkaline Soil

Alkaline soils are made up of lime, making them naturally alkaline.

Alkali, or Alka, soils are clay soils that have high alkalinity. They are often found in areas where rainfall is very heavy and frequent. These soils tend to be compacted and infertile. They are usually acidic and sandy.

The pH scale measures acidity or alkalinity. The higher the number the more alkaline or basic the soil is. The ideal range for soil pH is 6.0 to 7.0. Levels of soil pH below 5.0 are considered acidic and anything above 7.0 is considered alkaline.

Soils with a pH greater than 7.0 are alkaline soils. Some examples include peat bogs, river deltas, swamps, and marshes. These types of soils are typically rich in organic matter and nutrients from dead plants, which makes them good for growing plants. However, they are generally poor in water holding capacity and drainage.

Alkaline Soil

Loam Soil

Loam soil is a mixture of sand, silt, and clays. These three components make up loam soil. Each component plays a role in making loam soil effective.

Sand particles are the largest. They are very fine and lightweight. When added to other soils, they improve drainage and aeration or air space.

Silt particles are medium-sized. They are heavier than sand, which allows them to hold soil moisture better than sand. When added to other soil, they add structure and enhance the ability of the soil to retain nutrients.

Clay particles are smaller than sand and silt particles. Clay particles are heavy and dense. They allow air to penetrate the soil and prevent roots from growing deep.

Loam Soil

Neutral Soil

Soils with pH values ranging from 6.0 to 7 are neutral soils. Examples of these soils include loamy sand, silty clay, and loam. These types of soils tend to be well-drained and have moderate amounts of organic matter. They are good for growing plants and are excellent for gardening.

Calcareous Soil

Calciferous soils are made up of calcium carbonate, making them naturally calciferous. Calcareous soils generally have high carbonate content of micro masses, occurring in the form of micritic or microsporidia crystals.

Soil carbonates have been defined as organic matter stabilization agents, mainly due to chemical stabilization mechanisms.

The pH level of calcareous soils varies greatly depending on the type of rock present. This is why it is essential to analyze the soil before planting.

To avoid problems such as excessive salinity, it is recommended to apply gypsum only once every three years.

Calcareous Soil

Black Soil

  • Black soil is formed by the weathering or breaking process of igneous rocks.
  • Black soils are spread mostly across interior Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh on the Deccan lava plateau.
  • Black soil is ideally suited for growing cotton, sugar cane, tobacco, wheat, millets, and oilseed crops.
  • Black soil is to be the best soil type for cotton cultivation.
  • Black soils are mineral soils that have a black surface horizon, enriched with organic carbon that is at least 25 cm deep.Black Soil

Saline Soil

Saline soils are made up of salt, making them naturally saline.

Saline soil is a type of soil that has high levels of salt or other minerals. These salts cause the soil to become very dry, acidic and compacted. This makes it difficult for plants to absorb nutrients from the ground.

Salinization occurs when water evaporates from wet soil and leaves behind salts. The salts then accumulate in the soil surface or topsoil layer causing it to become compacted soil and unable to support plant growth.

Saline Soil

Sandy Loam

Sandy loams are made up of clay and silt, making them naturally sandy.

Sandy loam soil is sandy soil found in areas where rainfall is low or non-existent. The soil has a high water-holding capacity and good drainage properties. It is also rich in nutrients. This type of soil is ideal for growing plants such as vegetables, fruits, and flowers.

Sandy loam soils are generally classified into three types - silty clay loam, loamy sand, and sandy loam. They differ from each other in terms of texture, pH value, organic matter content, nutrient availability, and moisture retention.

This soil is considered to be a very fertile soil because of its ability to retain moisture and nutrients. There are several ways to improve the quality of this soil. These include adding compost, manure, and peat moss.

Composed Soil

If you're planning to grow herbs, make sure you buy composted soil. Composted soil is made up of decomposed leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scraps, and other organic materials. These materials add nutrients to the soil and improve drainage.

Composed Soil

FAQ on Soil for the Garden

What is Soil composed of?

The soil is composed of three basic components: organic matter (humus), mineral particles (sand), and air. Organic matter is the result of the decomposition of plant material and animal remains. It provides a habitat for living organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and worms. Essential nutrient mineral particles are made up of silica, aluminum, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, sodium, zinc, and others. Air plays a crucial role in the life cycle of soils. Without oxygen, the soil becomes sterile.

What is soil testing?

Soil sample testing allows us to determine the physical and chemical properties of the soil. These properties include the pH level, the amount of organic matter present, the content of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, boron, cobalt, selenium, molybdenum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and nickel, among others. The soil test kit is available for home soil testing.

Soil testing is performed through various methods, including the following: -

  • Chemical analysis of samples taken from the ground
  • Laboratory analysis of soil extracts
  • Sampling of the topsoil layer
  • Sampling of subsoil layers
  • Application of probes to detect underground structures
  • Analysis of the structure of the soil
  • Determination of the moisture content of the soil
  • Measurement of the electrical conductivity of the soil
  • Measuring the temperature of the soil
  • Observation of the appearance of the soil
  • Testing of the pH level of the soil
  • Collection of samples of the roots of plants grown in the soil
  • Collection and analysis of rainwater
  • Analysis of the composition of the atmosphere around the soil
  • Analysis of the gaseous emissions from the soil
  • Analysis and determination of the concentration of gases in the soil
  • Analysis to determine the degree of compaction of the soil
  • Analysis based on the presence of heavy metals
  • Analysis of the presence of pesticides
  • Analysis of the type of vegetation growing in the soil
  • Examination of the structure of the root system

What would happen if you planted a tree in soil contaminated with heavy metals?

Heavy metal contamination has become a growing problem around the globe. In some areas, it has reached levels that pose serious health risks.

Planting trees in such soils could potentially result in the death of the plant. The reason behind this is that plants absorb certain chemicals from the soil. If these chemicals contain heavy metals, they can cause damage to the plant. This is especially true for trees.

What Is the Difference Between Potting Soil And Garden Soil?

Potting soil is used when growing houseplants indoors. It contains nutrients and other materials that help keep plants healthy and thriving.

Garden soil is used for outdoor gardening. It is usually rich in minerals and nutrients that allow plants to thrive. However, there are differences between potting soil and garden soil.

Potting soil is generally less expensive than garden soil. One reason for this is that potting soil is designed specifically for indoor use. It doesn't need to be mixed or amended as garden soil does.

Potting soil also tends to contain more sand and gravel than garden soil.

Garden soil, on the other hand, is made using composted manure and other organic material. As a result, it contains much more earthy and nutrient-rich ingredients than potting soil do.

Both types of soil can benefit from being amended. Amending garden soil means adding additional nutrients to it. This helps ensure that your plants get all the nutrition they need to grow strong and healthy.

How Can I Improve My Soil Quality?

Improving your soil is an ongoing process. You may not notice any improvement immediately.

However, over time, you should see an increase in the number of beneficial soil organisms living in your soil. These organisms break down organic matter into simpler compounds that plants can use as food. This makes them easier for your plants to absorb.

The key to improving your soil is to add organic matter to it. Organic matter includes things like leaves, grass clippings, compost, decayed plant materials, and manure. Adding this kind of organic matter to your soil will improve its overall condition.

You can do this yourself by mixing cow manure and leaves. Composting involves turning animal waste into fertilizer using heat and soil microorganisms. Manure can be composted at home or purchased commercially as organic fertilizers.

You can buy commercial compost or make green manure at home. When making it yourself, you'll want to mix equal parts of manure and leaves. Spread the mixture out evenly in a pile.

Keep the pile moist until it begins to decompose. Once it starts to smell sweet, turn the pile regularly. After about six weeks period of time, you'll have compost ready to spread on your garden soil.

Another way to improve your soil is by planting cover crops. A cover crop is a plant that is grown primarily to feed the soil. They provide added nutrients and help prevent erosion.

How to Make Your Potting Soil?

If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, you can easily create your homemade potting soil mix. All you need is some good old dirt that you've already collected.

Mix equal parts of topsoil and peat moss. Use a shovel to dig out a hole in your yard large enough to hold your pot. Add the soil mixture to the hole and tamp it down firmly.

Water the soil thoroughly so that it becomes saturated. Then, water again after a few days. Keep doing this until the soil dries out completely.

When you're done watering, let the soil sit overnight before planting your seedlings. This allows the soil to settle and drain properly.

How to Prepare Garden Soil: Rich, Crumbly Soil?

There are many ways to prepare the garden soil structure. The best method depends on what type of soil you have and how much work you want to put into preparing it.

Many people prefer to amend their soils with compost because it provides extra nutrients. However, if you only have sandy soil, you might want to try amending it with peat moss instead.

Peat moss is made of decomposed plant material. It adds bulk to sandy soil, which improves drainage.

If you'd rather avoid purchasing materials, you can simply add compost to your existing soil. You can even just add compost to your current garden soil.

To amend your soil with organic compost, first, remove weeds and plant debris. Then, mix 1 part compost to 3 parts garden soil. Mix well and then apply the mixture to your garden beds.

If you don't have access to compost, you can still amend your soil by adding peat moss. Peat moss contains lots of nutrients and helps keep soil from drying out. You can also add cocopeat.

To prepare peat moss-amended soil, simply mix 1 part peat moss to 2 parts garden soil. Don't worry about compaction; peat moss doesn't compact.

If you live where there's not much available soil, you can purchase bags of topsoil. Topsoil comes pre-mixed with fertilizers and other additives. You can also mix it yourself. Garden soil preparation is quite easy.

What is the best soil for a garden?

The answer to this question depends on what kind of garden you're planning to grow. Soil texture will depend on the type of plants you are planning to grow.

Soil for planting vegetables, rich, loamy soil is the perfect soil. Loamy soil holds moisture better than clay soil does. This means vegetables won't dry out as quickly.

Loamy soil also drains well, which makes it easier for rainwater to soak into the ground and evaporate through the surface.

If you plan to grow herbs, shrubs, or flowers, choose acidic soil. Acidic soil is more prone to disease than alkaline soil is.

This makes it necessary to use organic pesticides more frequently. But, this is an essential part of maintaining healthy plants.

You can make your soil organic amendment using leaves and grass clippings. These materials contain nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, boron, and sulfur.

These elements help build strong roots and improve overall growth. To make your soil amendments, collect leaves and grass clippings from around your property.

Do I need to buy soil for my garden?

It's possible to start growing fresh vegetables from seeds in containers without buying soil.

However, some people find that starting seeds directly in the native soil ground results in healthier, stronger plants.

If you decide to use container gardening, make sure to get high-quality potting soil. Many garden centers sell pots and soil separately.

But, if you already have purchased soil, you should be able to reuse it. Simply fill your containers halfway with new soil and then finish filling them with old soil.

Once you've finished planting your seeds, cover them with mulch. Mulching keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation. Organic mulches help reduce the growth of weeds. This will ensure that there is healthy plant growth.

What kind of soil do you put in raised beds?

Organic soils are free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. They also tend to be richer in nutrients than conventionally grown soil.

Conventional soils tend to be less expensive than organically grown soil. However, they may contain harmful chemicals like lead and arsenic.

In addition, these soils may be depleted of vital minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

How to improve sandy soil for a garden?

Sandy soils need to be improved to grow plants. The best way to do this is to add organic matter such as composted manure, leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste. This helps create a healthy environment for plants. Another option is to use mulch which also improves the soil.

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Happy Gardening!
Dr. Vandana K.