Wednesday, July 25

Basic Soil Test

I decided to do a basic, at home soil test just to see what was going on with my dirt. I have come to know it through the 7 years we have been here and it is, if anything, full or surprises. One season it tills well and produces and the next year it form itself into crunchy clumps that the seeds can break through. As for additional little surprises, I find all sorts of things every year from spent bullet casings to odd bits of metal to oyster shells to pottery.

Immediately after shaking
Given that I failed both math and science numerous times in school, suggestions involving anything sounding scientific comes into my brain as the teacher from Charlie Brown. Or I sense incomprehension coming and start humming the Walton's theme song in my head.

I went for this basic test - Mason jar with a lid, an old measuring cup and some water. That is science I can cope with.

After it has settled.

Take 1/4 cup of soil from the garden and mix it with 2 cups of water in the mason jar.
Put the top on tight and shake well.
Allow it to settle. (I let it sit for about a half hour)
Shake it again.
Put the jar in a place where it will remain still for 5 to 7 days. You will see the soil settle into layers and the water will be as clear as it can be in a jar full of dirt.

The bottom layer should be small rocks
The next layer up should be fine sand
The next layer up should be silt
The next layer up should be clay
Then the little root pieces and things that float, and then the rest should be water.

What you want to see are layers that are 2/5ths sand, 2/5ths silt and the rest is clay. This means you have loam which is the best soil. Lets just say that I don't have loam.

If half of your sediment is sand then you have light sandy soil.
If over half of your sediment is silt with a little clay then you have heavy silt soil.

If more than 1/4 of your sediment is clay and you have lots of silt then your soil is considered clay.

After turning the jar around and observing the sediment, I think my dirt falls into the heavy silt category. Observations and conclusions - sounds like I just did a little science.

1 comment:

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