by Charlene Burgi
It is amazing what information is at our fingertips these days. I go to the internet if I am looking for a recipe, daily news, weather, or whatever trivia is lurking unanswered in my head. And while I also can find some helpful garden information on my computer, my garden is feeding me better information if I investigate it.
For example, what are my specific soil types? And why is it so important for me to know this? Do you know your soil types? Finding the answer is as simple as a clear jar filled with water, a tablespoon of liquid detergent, and a scoop of soil found in your garden. Close the lid of the jar after you add all the ingredients and shake. Within 20 minutes you will find the soil start to form layers. The layers are the textures that compose soil. Sand is heavy and will be the first layer on the bottom. The next layer will be silt, and last will be clay.
You might ask why this information is so important. Plants will have different needs depending on what you find with this experiment. If the bottom layer is deeper than the rest found in the jar, you will need to irrigate more often but for shorter stints of time, and fertilize more as the nutrients wash out of the large pores left in the sand. Adding organic matter will help retain water and nutrients in a sandy environment. The top layer, clay, will retain nutrients as well as water, but the pore spaces are so tight you will need to add a lot of organic matter to release the wealth of nutrients found there.
Strive to create an equal amount of sand, silt, and clay by sheet mulching, adding compost and organic matter. You will save money on water as well as fertilizer. And the only thing you will find on your computer will be your digital photos of your beautiful garden rejoicing in the rich medium you provided.