Types of Soil
The quality of soil

The soil is vital to the life of your garden. It is the transport system that will deliver nutrients, air and water.

Soil is made up of a variety of organic and inorganic materials, including rock particles, decaying plants and animals, air, water, and microorganisms. The manner in which the soil is arranged and the texture of the soil will influence how the soil behaves and reacts to water and nutrients.

It`s important to become familiar with the texture of your soil, which is established by the amounts of clay, silt or sand particles that exist in the soil. Clay is on one end of the spectrum. It can hold water and nutrients sufficiently, but it`s tough for the roots to grow through. Sand is on the other end of the spectrum. It drains well, but in the process nutrients get pulled away - and it dries quickly.

The ideal soil for gardening is loam, which has the best amounts of silt, clay and sand. If you squeeze it lightly, it should hold its shape.

Another factor that contributes to the success or demise of your garden is the pH level - a 1-14 scale that measures the acidity of the soil. A score of 7 is neutral; below 7 is acidic, above 7 is alkaline.

Most plants prefer neutral soil, which allows plants to successfully draw nutrients from the soil. Acidic soil is more common in areas with heavy rainfall like the Northwest. Alkaline soil is more common in drier areas. If your soil is only slightly alkaline, it will still be productive for many common plants.

Many nurseries and some local agricultural government agencies provide soil tests to determine your soil`s pH.
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