It is often difficult for novice gardeners to work out exactly what type of soil they have in their garden. To the inexpert eye, most earth just looks brown and dirty. Ideally, you want your soil to be a roughly equal balance of clay, sand and organic matter. You can determine the nature of your earth, and enjoy a trip back to your childhood by simply performing a simple experiment.
- Fill about a third of a clear bottle (2L Coke bottle minus the label works well!) with some soil, but make sure it comes from at least a foot down as the topsoil may have had compost and other matter heaped on it over the years.
- Pour in another third or so of water and give the bottle a good shake before leaving it to settle.
- The heavier sand will sink to the bottom pretty quickly and the organic matter will float to the top, while the finer sands and clay will take much longer to settle.
If you check the bottle a few hours later, you will get a good idea of what makes up your soil and you can then act accordingly to correct the balance.