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Gardening Basics: Inspecting Your Soil

A beautiful garden doesn't start with going to the garden center and purchasing plants and seeds. It starts with assessing your soil and inspecting your chosen gardening landscape before any planting ever begins.

In order to have a healthy, productive garden you need to get down to the basics - your soil. Time and effort must be spent in improving the quality of your soil conditions first or you'll be wasting time, money and a lot of energy trying to get anything to grow well.

What Constitutes "Healthy Soil"?

There are five main components that make up any patch of soil:

mineral particles
organic materials
living organisms (worms, bugs, etc.)
air (hot, humid, arid, etc.)
water (hard, soft, etc.)

Depending on the region that you live in, these components will vary in the proportions currently found in your soil. You will need to adjust some of these components to the proper proportions for your area zone and chosen garden plants in order to have healthy soil.

Soil and Healthy Plant

The texture of your soil also plays an important role in regards to your garden. Soil types fall into three categories:

Sandy soil - Water drains quickly through this type of soil, which means that your plants may not have enough time to absorb as much water as they really need. If your soil is sandy, it will be very light, sift through your fingers, and be easy to cultivate.

Clay soil - Many of us are familiar with this type of soil. It's heavy and hard to work through. When you ball it up in your fist, it forms a hard lump. Water tends to pool and takes a much longer time to drain away. This can cause root rot to your plants.

Loam - This is the best soil that you want to have in your garden. Easy to work with, it also holds moisture without pooling water.

Checking Soil pH Levels

One other thing that many gardeners also fail to check on is the pH level of the soil. Depending on the types of species you intend to plant in your garden, you need to be aware that some plants have preferences for certain growing conditions. Certain plants require an alkanline soil, while others require an acidic soil. The pH of the soil needs to be compatable with the requirements of the flower, bush or tree that you are planting, otherwise they won't receive the proper nutrients to grow well.

About the Author:

Rose Smith owns To discover additional tips about how to improve garden soil conditions, as well as how to create your own Japanese Garden space, visit:

Grow Your Own Veg (Rhs) from

"Ideal for the new vegetable gardener or someone who is thinking of expanding their range of veg."



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