Autumn in America can mean many things to Americans. Football season is back. Apple picking is now the go-to weekend activity. And there is still time to plant crops like beets and broccoli. However, there’s more to seasonal gardening than just knowing what types of produce should be harvested at this time of year. The type of soil you plant your crops in matters almost as much as the crops themselves.
Below, we’ll discuss the properties of each kind of soil, and what conditions they’re best utilized in.
Sandy soil behaves quite similarly to the beachy landscapes its name is derived from: it’s dry and gritty to the touch, and, because it is comprised of large particles, it doesn’t retain much water. Moreover, like the sand found on beaches, sandy soil gets heated up rapidly compared to the surrounding environment. While this means sandy soil is far from ideal for summer gardening, this light soil is great for springtime planting.
Silty soils is far smoother than sandy soil, and is much less coarse to the touch. This means that, unlike sandy soil, it will hold a far greater quantity of water. When moistened, silty soil will take on an almost soapy texture due to the water it retains. Of course, this water capacity comes at the expense of soil nutrients, and the soil should not be stepped on, as that will affect its aeration. Silty soil is ideal for agricultural uses at all types of the year, given ideal conditions are present.
Out of the soils on this list, clay has the smallest sized particles. This means that clay can hold greater volumes of water than the other soils on this list, which makes clay among the densest and heaviest of soil types. Moreover, since it drains more slowly than all other soil types, clay retains nutrients for long stretches of time, which are ideal for plant growth. Clay soil is best used during the fall and spring, as summer weather can make clay very dry and heavy.
Peaty soil, like moss or lichen, is soft to the touch, and is very rich in nutrients and organic material. In fact, much of the peaty soil around today formed during the last 9,000 years, as plants submerged as melting glaciers slowly decomposed. Once drained of excess water, peaty soil is a great growing medium in most climates. However, peaty soil should be avoided during the summer months, as it is highly combustible. Additionally, peaty soil typically contains a high pH, which, while detrimental for some plants to grow, can help regulate diseases in the soil thanks to its acidic composition.
The type of soil that gardens and gardeners love is loamy soil. It contains an ideal balance of silt, sand, clay, and humus. Because of its high organic matter content, loam contains a high pH and a high amount of calcium. Loam does a great job of retaining water and plant nutrients, but isn’t difficult to drain, as air moves freely between soil particles down to the roots.
Although loamy soil is the ideal material to work with, don’t despair if you don’t have it in your garden. That’s because soil will always favor one particle’s size over the two others. Then again, there are many ways to condition your soil, and, depending on the unique composition of your land, loam can still yield verdant grassy lawns, delicious vegetables, or bountiful harvests.
If you’d like professional help deciding which soils to use, contact Blue Tree Landscaping for advice. Blue Tree will also assist with picking the right plants for your yard so that you can create a healthy and aesthetically pleasing space.