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Thread: Soil Type?

  1. #1
    arwilliams is offline Germinator
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    Default Soil Type?

    how do you know what type of soil you have? I read about soil being well drained etc, but I have just moved into my house so I have not seen a lot of rain so not sure what it will do after rain. Is there anyway of telling instantly what soil type I have, or do I have to buy some sort of test kit?

    sorry I am a newbie
    Last edited by arwilliams; 11-09-2009 at 09:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Alison's Avatar
    Alison is offline Gardening Guru
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    Depends on what you mean. You can test to find out if you have acid or alkaline soil although this usually becomes fairly clear from what grows well. With regards if you have sandy, loamy, clay soil you can tell this buy how easily you can roll the soil in your hands. When the soil is moist (you can wet yourself) see if you can form a ball of soil. If not you have very sandy soil. They try to roll it into a sausage shape. If it extrudes pretty much to infinity you're on clay. This is a very simplistic description but you'll probably get the meaning.

    Some of us live in the past, always talking about back then. Some of us live in the future, always planning what we are going to do. And, then there are those, who neither look behind or ahead, but just enjoy the moment of right now.

    Which one are you and is it how you want to be?

  3. #3
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    piskieinboots is offline Gardening Guru
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    don't apologise for being a 'newbie' - we are all newbies in a way

    Can you grab a handful of soil and make it stick into a ball - if so, clay, if not, be grateful - although clay is excellent so long as you work with it! Clay is excellent at holding onto nutrients needed for plant growth, your mission (if you have clay and should you wish to accept it) is to get the soil to release the nutrients.

    Soil testing kits is for pH rather that type.

    Lots to take in I know, don't worry - we'll work through it. Your first project is to see if you can make it stick to something like the Producers of Ghost would be proud of
    aka
    Suzie

  4. #4
    zazen999 is offline Funky Cold Ribena
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    The way I'd recommend.....dig a few handfuls out and mix them up in a bag; and take a slack handful and pop it into a jam jar. Then add warm water and shake it up. Then leave it overnight [for any clay to absorb the water].

    Then, shake it all up again and leave it to settle.

    Ideally, the sand and gravel should settle first, followed by a layer of silt; then the water should stay cloudy for a good hour or so [or more] and you should also have a good amount of stuff that just floats. The floaty stuff floats because it is organic and won't ever sink.

    If you have a good mix; then excellent. If you have nothing settling within the first few minutes then you need sand. If you have nothing sitting on the top then you need organic. If the water clears really quickly, then you have mainly sand.

    That's how us engineers would do it if we were showing someone the constituents of soil.


    To tell if it drains; dig a hole and pour a bucket of water in. If it goes in 5 mins, you have good and possibly too much drainage. If it is there 24 hours later you have drainage issues. An hour is probably the best, to avoid waterlogging or soils drying out too fast.
    Last edited by zazen999; 11-09-2009 at 10:04 PM.


  5. #5
    arwilliams is offline Germinator
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    you guys rock... its starting to make sense..
    i have well drained, clay soil..
    so i have decided now to grow onions and garlic, because i use a lot of them.
    I am growing from sets, i have turned the soil over , and I am going to lay fertilizer and then plant them.. simple enought... i am assuming they are easy to grow and i dont have to worry that i have well drained clay soil !!
    i have a small wooden planter, ant thoughts of what i can shove in there? I have a green house it can go in

  6. #6
    bobleponge's Avatar
    bobleponge is offline Early Fruiter
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    Well drained clay soil??????
    You are indeed a lucky person.

    For your planter, if you wanted stuff now, you could sow some salady type stuff, green rabbit food business, that should grow in your greenhouse.
    If you get some cut and come again stuff, you may well find that the planter will keep you in salad all over the winter.
    Bob Leponge
    Life's disappointments are so much harder to take if you don't know any swear words.

  7. #7
    arwilliams is offline Germinator
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    bobleponge,
    You make well drained clay soil sound a bit of "the holy grail" of gardening, I think I better check this out properly, I am not normally that lucky!

    Thanks for your help.

  8. #8
    bobleponge's Avatar
    bobleponge is offline Early Fruiter
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    It wouldnt be the worst soil you could have!!
    Bob Leponge
    Life's disappointments are so much harder to take if you don't know any swear words.

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