Types of Soil
Learn about the different types of soil
Types Of Soilgrow your ownSoil
is an essential part of growing your own food. Though you can improve your soil through fertilization and digging, basically you have to make do with what you have got and choose your crops accordingly. You will spend a lot of time looking at your humus rich top soil, but the sub soil is also important as it dictates how well your land will drain and it also provides minerals to your crops.
There are four main soil types: clay
, and peat
, with loam being a mixture of sand and clay.
(pictured above) is the most difficult to manage, but with skill and experience can yield excellent crops. The problem with clay is its tendency to form a sticky unworkable mess. When clay is wet and you walk over it for example permanent damage is done to the structure of the soil - sticky when wet, and hard as a brick when dry. However, if you leave clay alone when it is wet, add compost or some form of manure, and plough it before the frosts come, it is possible to develop a well draining, easily worked plot. The addition of some sand also helps in extreme cases.
(pictured above) is easier to deal with, but it is hungry
. If you add organic matter such as compost to sandy soil the nutrients are quickly washed away. Also sandy soil suffers in drought conditions as it drains so much faster than a heavy soil. However, with heavy top dressings of manure, and the addition of some lime (to overcome the natural acidity of sandy soil) good crops will be obtained (though crops from heavy soils are better in general). Sandy soil is also excellent for keeping livestock as it does not get sticky when wet or when walked over.
(pictured above) is the intermediate between clay soil and sandy soil. It drains well, but also holds nutrients well. With the addition of a little humus, and sometimes a little lime, a loam is often the best soil for most growing.
(pictured above) is very rare which is a pity because it contains so many nutrients. Peat forms when vegetable matter dies and settles at the bottom of a swamp. Over many many years more and more layers of organic matter are added, compressing what is already there, as the whole lot undergoes anaerobic (no oxygen) decay. Left for millions of years peat would eventually become coal. Where peat exists in a naturally drained peat field, there is no better soil in the world for cultivating.
Article Published: 13:16, 6th Apr 2006
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