Soil is the determining factor in all your gardening endeavors. The success and failure you’ll get from your home gardening venture depends on the kind of soil you have.
It’s therefore important to know the type of soil you have in your garden and how to improve its structure if it’s not responding to the needs of your plants.
You should investigate the quality of your garden soil if it warrants the soil nutrients available for your crops.
There are only three major plant elements that are mostly needed by all crops in their entire growth process, such as Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium.
You may also want to read How to know and Improve your Soil Quality ?
These soil elements are required by the plants from their early growth period until their productive phase up to maturity or harvest time.
There are other minor soil elements that contributes to the growth vigor of the plants, but they’re only consumed in a small quantity as against the 3 major elements that are consumed in large amounts.
To know how the soil contributes to the success in your gardening venture, let me illustrate some key points about a productive soil.
In order to improve the quality of your soil, check How to Enrich Your Soil Cheaply & Naturally With Composting.
Looking at your soil profile, it constitutes about 6 inches of the top rich portion of the upper horizon where all the organic materials including
- some millions of beneficial bacteria,
- decayed plant and animal materials,
- and fungi are found that contribute to make a healthy and rich soil for sustaining plant growth.
It has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms and is where most of the Earth’s biological soil activity occurs.
Topsoil is composed of mineral particles, organic matter, water, and air. Organic matter varies in quantity on different soils. (source)
These organic materials are the ones that feeds some soil organisms to keep them active to function in enriching to form an organically rich soil.
Subsoil is the layer of soil under the topsoil on the surface of the ground. Like topsoil, it is composed of a variable mixture of small particles such as sand, silt and clay, but with a much lower percentage of organic matter and humus. (source)
This is found next to the top soil which is made up of less distinct soil horizons.
It does not contain much biological life. However, it has a big role how well plant roots absorb some food nutrients for maximum utilization and how the process of soil draining takes place.
During soil cultivation, you should always loosen the subsoil by plowing or using spade, shovel or garden fork to allow the plant roots to move freely and easy draining out of excess soil water.
A loose subsoil allows more oxygen to reach the plant’s root system which is necessary for plant vigorous growth.
Clay soil is the less desired type by home gardeners because of its sticky characteristics that is hard for the plants to grow productively.
But, you can improve clay soil by continuous cultivation or plowing to create a more loosen soil and adding some organic materials to enrich it.
Clay soil is only ideal for planting rice in paddies because of its retaining water holding capacity that withstand long water retention needed by rice during its early productive stage.
Assessing the soil characteristics in your garden, you can decide whether it’s suited for planting or you need some amendments to make it organically rich for planting purposes.