5 Experiments To Know The Nature Of The Soil In Your Garden

In our article presenting tips for an efficient gardening in accordance with the environment, we talked about the importance of knowing the soil in which you plant your seeds. Some plants or flowers grow better or worse depending on the nature of the soil. Some soils are naturally rich enough and others need to be given a helping hand for the plants to grow well (nutritious green manures, watering and amendments). A heavy soil needs compost less regularly than a light soil, but in good quantity for example. However, it can be difficult to have this information to ensure that the soil remains fertile for your plants and that its drainage is sufficient. To finally know the composition of the soil in your garden or vegetable garden, you can try these five gardening experiments at home.

1) The jar test to better understand the soil

5 Experiments To Know The Nature Of The Soil In Your Garden

What you need:
A large jar with a lid
Soil (you can test different depths and areas of the garden)
Clear water
1) Fill the jar halfway with soil.

2) Fill the rest with water, leaving some space for mixing.

3) Close the jar carefully and shake well.

4) Let it sit until different layers appear.

How does it work?
You can see different layers that will or will not appear as a result of the experiment (from bottom to top):

  • Sand (with coarse sand and stones and perhaps a second layer on top with finer sand)
  • Silt
  • Clay
  • Water and organic matter floating in it.
  • Note: light-colored soil contains less organic matter than very dark soil.
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The nature of the soil is defined by the component that exceeds 50%. In the picture shown here, we have more than 50% sand. It is therefore a type of sandy soil (or sandy soil.

2) The visual and tactile test

5 Experiments To Know The Nature Of The Soil In Your Garden

Look at the soil and the texture of the soil to know its nature:
Heavy clay soil cracks and forms a crust with great heat and dryness. Clay soil, on the other hand, becomes compact and sticky when it rains and is wet.
Rich loamy soil can be very powdery when dry and soft to the touch.
Humus-rich soil is very light, has a spongy texture and is very dark in color. (It can be very acidic).
Light, sandy soil is very granular to the touch and does not appear to have any cohesion. Sandy soil has a porous texture.
Finally, chalky soil has a chalky appearance and displays light, almost whitish tones. Chalky soil is very light and stony.

3) The blood sausage test

5 Experiments To Know The Nature Of The Soil In Your Garden

Just take a handful of soil and try to give it a pudding shape. If this is simply impossible and the soil crumbles, it is probably a sandy soil. If you can make some kind of a sausage shape, but it breaks up into several pieces of soil and looks brittle, it’s loamy soil. Finally, if you can make a perfect sausage with soft, malleable soil, it’s probably a clay soil.

4) The pie crust test

To perform this test, take a good handful of wet (or self-moistened) clay and use a bottle to roll it out as you would with pie dough. Then measure the thickness of the spread soil without it breaking. If it can’t be spread and breaks immediately, it’s probably sandy soil. If the layer is less than 3 mm, it is a clay soil and if the layer is more, it is a silty soil.

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5) The test to know the acidity of the soil

5 Experiments To Know The Nature Of The Soil In Your Garden

Acidic or calcareous soil? Knowing this information is crucial for the fertility of plantations and apply the right amount of nutrients and amendment.

What you need:
1) Pour a little vinegar on a patch of soil or put some soil in a glass before pouring the vinegar in.

2) Observe the reaction:

If nothing happens, the soil is acidic.
If there is a tiny reaction, your soil is neutral.
If you get an effervescent result and seem to bubble, your soil is calcareous (or alkaline).


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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