Soil

Asked November 13, 2019, 10:19 AM EST

How do I determine what type of soil I have in my new garden?

Anne Arundel County Maryland soil normal growth how determine soil types

2 Responses

The 3 major mineral soil classes are: sand, silt, and clay.

You can determine the type using your fingers. When you rub some of each between your fingers, the sand feels gritty, the silt feels more like flour or talcum powder, and the clay soils are sticky, even slippery, when wet.

Of course, most soils are a combination of 2 or 3 of these soils.

An organic soil also has 5% or more of organic matter in it(which comes from plant or animal breakdown). Topsoil has organic matter in it, but can basically start with any kind of soil.

A soil test will tell you about the nutrient levels in your soils. It's a good idea to get a soil test done before you start using your garden. Now is a good time to do it, particularly if you need to add lime.
Here's our page on taking a soil test--how to do it, what to test for, etc: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/soil-testing

Ellen

The 3 major mineral soil classes are: sand, silt, and clay.

You can determine the type using your fingers. When you rub some of each between your fingers, the sand feels gritty, the silt feels more like flour or talcum powder, and the clay soils are sticky, even slippery, when wet.

Of course, most soils are a combination of 2 or 3 of these soils.

An organic soil also has 5% or more of organic matter in it(which comes from plant or animal breakdown). Topsoil has organic matter in it, but can basically start with any kind of soil.

A soil test will tell you about the nutrient levels in your soils. It's a good idea to get a soil test done before you start using your garden. Now is a good time to do it, particularly if you need to add lime.
Here's our page on taking a soil test--how to do it, what to test for, etc: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/soil-testing

Ellen