Before you start planting, you should know what kind of soil you have in your garden so you can grow plants that fit the soil profile.
To test the texture of the soil, dig a hole (about 10 cm deep) and take a handful of soil to see if it contains sand, white or gray limestone, or stones. This analysis can reveal if the soil needs improvement. For example, if a clay soil has been compacted over time due to lack of maintenance, the surface layer will become impenetrable for roots leaving the need for compost soil ammendment.
- Squeeze a damp piece of soil into your hand. If it smells like moss it has a high organic content.
- Rub a little soil in your palm, between your thumb and fingertips. If it feels sandy it has sand in its composition.
- Knead the soil and try to shape a ball. If you succeed, the soil contains clay.
The pH value of the soil is very important to know before gardening, because it has significant implications on crops. It affects the ability of plants to absorb nutrients.
Measuring the pH is very easy to do using litmus paper, which is available at any pharmacy. The theoretical pH measurement ranges from zero to 14. The lower the value, the more acidic the soil. Around 7, we have neutral soils, while above 7, we have alkaline soils.