May 10, 2023

Soil Test - noun

Definition: A simple test to determine whether soil is primarily composed of clay, sand, or silt.

Soil Testing in the Forest Garden:

When preparing nurseries or planting high value crops, Forest Gardeners ensure their land has the ideal soil texture to grow healthy seedlings. To determine soil texture, farmers can follow these steps::  

  1. Take a handful of soil, make a fist with it, and place it in a bucket of water, holding it tight.
  2. Remove hand from water and crush the soil between fingers.
  3. If there is little resistance and the sample falls apart completely, it is mostly sand and lacks clay.
  4. If there is some resistance, with the soil particles loosely holding together, it is silty clay or sandy clay.
  5. If there is great resistance and the sample remains intact and pliable, it is mostly clay.

Loam - a combination of the three main soil textures of sand, silt, and clay - is an ideal growing medium. After Forest Gardeners assess how the soil reacts to the test, they can identify amendments that will help the planting medium obtain a more loam-like soil texture. 

For example, a Forest Gardener with sandy soil can add humus, compost or dried manure to their soil medium to balance out the texture. If a farmer is working with compacted clay soils, applying sand and other amendments can loosen the structure and form a more loam-like texture. 

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