What Kind of Soil Do I Have?

/What Kind of Soil Do I Have?

Good, rich dirt makes for happy worms.All Dirt Needs Worms

Although adding worm castings to your planting methods is good for your plants and profitable for us, if you have a large garden, you can improve your soil on a long-term, continuous basis by letting a hard-working army of earthworms work for you. One worm can produce one-third of a pound of fertilizer a year. Multiply that by the number of earthworms, which reproduce asexually anyway, that you have in your garden, and you can easily see the benefits of having earthworms in your garden.

Do Worms Like Your Soil?

Worms love loose, loamy soil rich in decaying organic material and nitrogen. How do you know what kind of soil you have? You can impress people by looking like an expert with a simple “hand” test. With a hand spade, dig down a few inches into your dirt, take out a scoop of dirt, place it in your hand, and squeeze it tightly. How it reacts when you open your hand can tell you a lot.

For example, If it immediately falls apart, your soil is sandy and is the best soil for onions and root vegetables such as turnips, carrots, and potatoes. However, if it falls apart easily when poked with a finger, you have loamy soil, a good mixture of sand and silt which is generally the best for most gardening. On the other hand, if poking it simply makes an indention in the ball of soil and it stays together, you have clay or silty soil that leafy vegetables such as lettuces, cabbages, and broccoli like because it stays wetter and offers a good anchor for the heads that can become top-heavy. You can go a step further by rubbing some of the soil between your fingers. Sandy soil is very gritty, like sand paper. If it is smooth and greasy, it is mostly clay.

How to Improve Your Soil

Both clay and sandy soil are improved by adding amendments to your soil. Sandy soil needs lots of compost to bind the granules together and prevent the nutrients from being washed out. Clay soil needs lots of compost to allow it to drain and prevent its becoming hard and compacted. Interestingly, the remedy for both is compost, and this is what makes it so important to have worms. The worms are attracted to compost, so the more compost your work into your garden, the more worms you attract, and the more worms you attract, the looser and richer your soil becomes as the worms “till” the soil for you. What a perfect arrangement! Now that’s what I call symbiosis!

~Louise Cooper

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