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[–] DeliciousOnions [S] 0 points 16 points (+16|-0) ago 

Hello again, folks! I wanted to share a cheap, easy way to look at your soil quality.

ONE - take a glass jar and fill it 1/3 with soil from your garden.

TWO - fill it to about 2/3 with water.

THREE - put a teaspoon of dish soap in there.

FOUR - shake the crap out of it!

FIVE - wait 24 hours for it to settle.

The settling pattern can tell you about the different components of your soil and how much you have of each.

  • Sandy Soil will have particles settle quickly and leave mostly clear water. This soil can drain well but is poor in nutrients.
  • Clay Soil does not settle and remains mostly cloudy with some settling. Clay does not drain well at all.
  • Peat Soil has a bunch of floating bits at the top and little sediment. Peat can waterlog easily but is high in organic material.
  • Chalk Soil may have white chunks at the bottom and a grayish color to the water. Chalk is a drying agent and is alkaline.
  • Loamy Soil is the winner of them all, with several layers of sediment divided on the bottom and clear water remaining.

I had originally thought my area was full of clay, but now after testing I'm much more optimistic. This looks much more like sandy or loamy soil to me. All it takes is a few seconds and kids love to shake it up!

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[–] lbruiser 0 points 2 points (+2|-0) ago 

that's neat. Im going to do this. Thank you ^_^.

[–] [deleted] 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

[Deleted]

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[–] DeliciousOnions [S] 0 points 0 points (+0|-0) ago 

I can't say. Once I get some more equipment I'll have more to say about further test methods!

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[–] middle_path 0 points 5 points (+5|-0) ago 

Guess I'm doing this for a little weekend project. I'm pretty sure I'm clay, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

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[–] NeoGoat 0 points 3 points (+3|-0) ago 

You may be clay. I identify as a man of steel.

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[–] SirDigbyChikenCaesar 0 points 2 points (+2|-0) ago 

Same, I'm going to go try it now.

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[–] theshopper 0 points 3 points (+3|-0) ago 

Thats pretty neat.

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[–] HorseIsDead 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

FYI just because you have "bad" soil doesn't mean you can't grow plants extremely well. I stuck tomatoes in a probably 5 foot thick sheet of essentially clay last year. Just dug a hole and threw them in. 2 plants limited to growing about 2 feet tall grew more tomatoes than 3 adults could handle eating.

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[–] DeliciousOnions [S] 0 points 0 points (+0|-0) ago 

You're absolutely right - plants can handle a lot of soil conditions and as long as they can reach nutrients there is probably enough there.

For me it's mostly an academic venture, I like thinking about the composition and geology (is it still geological if it's soil instead of rock?) of how this stuff works.

It's also useful because it's the next step to talking about soil properties like drainage, stiffness, pH or density. Expect more stuff like that coming from me in the future.

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[–] Adminstrater 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

I assume since you added the soap, this solution will be disposed of separately from your garden.

Once you have a good understanding on your soil quality, would the next step be to add missing minerals and soil by purchasing it from the store, or would you just deal with what you got?

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[–] DeliciousOnions [S] 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago  (edited ago)

We live at an apartment and probably not for too much longer, so soil quality is just a fun project for me.

Edit - but yes, the next step after learning what kind of soil I have is to amend it with other stuff (perlite is amazing, by the way) until I have the properties I want.

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[–] slevin_kelevra 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

Great post OP