The soil is just as important as the air we breathe and the water we drink. Without the soil trees and plants could not grow, fungi could not survive and we would not be able to grow any food.
So what exactly is soil?
The soil is created from dead plants, animals and different types of minerals. This creates a rich soil for feeding plants and in turn us. There are different types of clay and some plants favour each one or a mixture of them.
- Clay soils hold a lot of water and drain well.
- Sandy soils do not hold a lot of water and are not so good for growing plants.
- Loamy soils are somewhere in the middle and the perfect mix is great for growing plants.
Most fruits and vegetables like a loamy/ clay soil because it has a lot of minerals that it can use as food. Plants like cacti like sandy soils, they are used to it as there native desert homes usually have a lot of sand.
The soil is a very important home for creatures that live underground like ants, worms and moles. Earthworms are very special because along with the fungi they have the job of recycling the autumn leaves and other matter into rich nutrients for the nearby plants.
The Earth works in layers and right at the top is the topsoil, topsoil is very important because it stores the most nutrients that the plants need. Most plants roots won’t go much further than the topsoil because that is where most of the food is. Topsoil can easily be blown away by the wind and rain, this is a big problem because our green friends depend on it.
When the soil is worked too much it gets too hard this leads to compaction. When a soil is compacted water runs off it when it rains. This is bad because we rely on the soil to absorb the water and when the soil cannot take it up it leads to flooding. This is a good reason to grow your own fruits and vegetables because farming causes a lot of damage to our soils.
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What can we do to help?
If you have a garden do not leave bare soil you can avoid this by
- Adding compost.
- Growing more perennial plants.
- Growing shrubby herbs around the base of fruit bushes and taller plants.
- Plant lots of strawberries they cover the ground really well and taste delicious too.
- Cover your soil in winter when it gets really cold with some mulch
The Soil Test -To find out what type of soil you have in your plant pots or garden follow the next couple of steps
Find some soil and Put some water in the palm of one of your hands
With the other hand pick up some soil and put it into the wet hand, make a ball by rolling the soil together
If the soil is gritty falls apart you have a sandy soil
If the some of the soil comes apart but the rest stays in a ball it is a loam soil
If the soil is sticky and stays in a ball you have a clay soil.