I don’t know about you, but visions of summer tomatoes are starting to dance in my head.
Even though it is too early for planting, it’s the perfect time to start playing in the dirt and preparing the soil in our garden beds. (I really do love this part.)
Want even better tomatoes this season?
Healthy soil is the place to start. Healthy soil drains well and allows minerals to be easily absorbed by the plant.
Unfortunately, most of us have either clay soil (which drains poorly), or sandy soil (which has poor water retention).
Not sure how much clay or sand is in your soil?
The best way to know is to conduct this easy soil jar test…..
Analyzing Your Soil Using the Soil Jar Test
You will need:
*A shovel or spade
*A quart-sized jar and lid
Step #1: Dig A Hole
Grab your shovel and dig a hole in an area where you would like to have a garden bed. (Call 811 before you dig–safety reasons!)
Dig up the top layer of grass (or weeds, in my case) and remove as much grass/weeds as possible.
Step 2: Collect a Sample
Fill a quart-sized jar three-quarters full with soil from the hole.
Again, try to remove as much debris and rocks as possible.
Step #3: Fill Jar With Water
Fill the jar with regular ol’ tap water, leaving about an inch of head space. Screw lid on tightly.
Step #4: Shake It Up
Shake the jar up for at least a minute, making sure every last bit of soil gets mixed up in the water.
Step #5: Settle Down
Allow the jar to sit undisturbed for at least a day to allow the soil particles to settle into layers of sand, silt, clay and organic matter:
Bottom Layer: Sand is the heaviest and largest soil particle so it will settle at the bottom.
Lower Middle Layer: Silt is the next largest soil particle and will settle on top of the sand. (Hmm…where is MY silt layer, I wonder?)
Upper Middle Layer: Clay is the smallest and finest soil particle and will settle on top of the silt.
Top Layer: Water and organic material will float to the top.
So Now What?
Is your jar mostly sand? You will need to add plenty of compost and organic materials (rotted leaves, mulch, etc.) to your soil. This will help the soil retain water and nutrients.
Is your jar mostly clay? You will also need to add plenty of compost and organic materials to the soil. This will improve your soil’s drainage and nutrient absorption.
And if you have a well-proportioned mix of clay, silt and sand, I would like to know where you live so I can move in. 🙂