Top soil could very well be one of our most valuable, and overlooked, resources here on the planet. Water and air get a lot of attention, as they should, but they will be much less useful without good soil to grow the plants they nurture in.
Out of all the Earth’s thick crust, topsoil only takes up the last two to eight inches.
Criteria for Top Soil
You measure topsoil from the top surface down to the first densely packed layer. This first densely packed layer is called substrata, and will later be broken down and combined with organic matter to become new topsoil.
Between this substrata and the topsoil is where almost all organic matter, microorganisms, and nutrients essential to plant growth are located. When you buy garden soil, or seed starter soil this is what you are buying it for: the nutrients and microorganisms contained within to better grow your gardens and lawns.
The Most Important 6 Criterias To Choose The Perfect Soil
To choose the perfect soil to import to your garden you need to know:
It is important to identify a cultural theme within a garden if one exists.
Then choose a sand or loam soil that is acid or alkaline appropriate to the garden destination.
The history of the soil you import determines if it will be suitable for growing crops.
Agricultural top soil often contains residual herbicide. Soil from a coastal location may contain a high level of salt. Soil from a toxic site such as a demolished fuel station will contain diesel.
A gardener can test soil for toxicity. A small sample can be placed on a windowsill; moistened and cress seed broadcast on it.
The seed will germinate but quickly die back in the presence of: salt, residual herbicide or diesel.
2- Soil Type
You can test soil type by rolling it in your hands. If it sticks together in a ball it is clay soil.
Sandy soils contain coarse particles you can feel them when you rub the soil between your fingers.
Soil that sticks together and contains coarse particles is called a loam. It contains both sand and clay.
Sandy soils are free draining. Loams hold nutrients better than sands.
Clay soils can be difficult to work and they puddle (hold standing water).
Read more about Soil Type on Quick Tips for Improving Your Soil by Soil Types and
3- Soil pH
The pH scale measures acidity / alkalinity. Most garden supply retailers will stock soil pH testing kits.
A neutral pH is 7 generally food crops require a neutral pH. Some plants prefer acid conditions they are called ericaceous.
Plants that prefer alkaline conditions are chalk or lime loving.
You can measure soil moisture, PH Value and sunlight intensity using Besmon Soil Test Kit. It’s helpful for you to plant flowers, plants and make them grow healthy and strong
4- Your Purpose
To choose the perfect soil you need to know what you want the soil to do.
If the soil is to be used as a medium to grow food crops; it will need to be free draining and have a neutral pH. Ornamental gardens can be acidic or alkaline.
Heathers, azalea, camellias and rhododendron are examples of plants that an acidic soil sustains.
Chalk, lime soils have a high alkaline value. Weigela, ceanothus, and photinia are examples of plants that we cultivate in areas of chalk or lime soils. Some gardens grow plants that need drier soil.
Examples of plants in a dry garden are Perovskia; Russian sage, Rudbeckia and all kinds of Sedum.
5- Organic Matter
The perfect soil will contain organic matter. Organic matter sustains soil life.
Micro-organisms and small creatures that can live within soil are mostly beneficial.
They need organic matter for food and habitat. The organic matter content isn’t crucial to choosing the perfect soil because a gardener can add compost or farm yard manure after the soil is imported.
6- Altering pH
If necessary a gardener can alter the pH of soil. Leaf litter mulch or fertilizers containing sulphur are acidic.
Lime is freely available and will increase the pH of an acid soil.
How Purchase TopSoil ?
Be sure to carefully research the topsoil you are getting. If you purchase bags of sand be prepared to be disappointed. You won’t get anything but a wicked sandbox.
If you go out and buy bags of peat moss, be prepared to be equal parts disappointed and living in a bog. But then maybe you want to start a swamp, if so go out and buy lots of peat moss and maybe some alligators.
When you do buy some topsoil, it is usually made up of substrata that is broken down and enhanced with nutrients and a number of other elements depending on what exactly you buy. The substrata itself is made up of sand, silt, and clay.
In nature this is broken down gradually over time by weather, and the organic matter necessary combines with it over time as well, until it becomes topsoil.
A topsoil manufacturer, of course, doesn’t have time for this waiting around, there are customers to serve after all, so they will make the topsoil. This will be done by taking substrata and combining it with organic matter to create what you know as mulch. They then leave it in piles to break down at a rate accelerated beyond what would occur in nature.
Have you ever walked past a big pile of wood chips, or mulch, and seen it steaming on a cool day? This occurs due to the heat generated by microorganisms breaking down the wood, left long enough and you’ll have mulch, and topsoil.
Why it is important to buy TopSoil ?
The best reasons to buy topsoil are to control erosion by growing new plants in areas with no plants growing, fix areas damaged by storm water runoff, to grow a thick and healthy garden, and to fix soils challenged by either too much sand (the sand box problem) or too much clay.
For those in real need of nutrient content try a bag of soil amenders. This is a rich compost soil product that is great for plants as it is a 100% source of organic matter. If you can’t get things to grow in this top soil you may want to hang up the gardening gloves.