[Music] Hello! Healthy soil is the secret behind
good harvests – it absorbs water, feeds our plants, and provides an anchor for roots, helping crops to grow strongly and be productive. Understand your soil type and
you can work to improve it, ensuring more robust plants and even better harvests. In this video we’ll show you how to identify what type of soil you have and how to get the most from it. Most soils tend towards one of four categories –
sandy, silt, clay, or loam, which has a balance of sand, silt and clay. Each soil type has its own characteristics. Sandy soils, also described as light soils, are
made up of very large particles which gives a gritty texture. Sandy soils drain quickly,
so they tend to be drier than other types, and they don’t hold on to
nutrients very well, which can present a challenge for hungry crops. However, they are easy to work with
and warm up quickly in spring. Root crops such as carrots,
together with onions and asparagus, are just a few of the many
vegetables that grow well in sandy soil. Silt soils have smaller particles than sandy soils,
giving them a slightly slippery, floury feel. This type of soil holds onto
moisture and nutrients for longer. Clay (or heavy) soils consist of
very fine particles. Clay soil holds its shape when rolled into a ball,
and it’s smooth to the touch. It is slow to both absorb moisture and drain, which means soils like this
can bake hard in summer then become waterlogged in winter, making
them difficult to dig and wet and cold in spring. However, well-cultivated clay soils are very fertile and are preferred by brassicas such as cabbage as well
as beans, peas, and salad leaves. Loam is the ideal soil type that gardeners dream of! It’s fertile, drains well but not too fast, is easy to work, and has a good amount of organic matter
that supports just about any fruit or vegetable. All soil types can be improved
by adding organic matter. Organic matter can take many forms – for example leafmold made from decomposed
leaves, or good old-fashioned garden-made compost. Farmyard manure can also be used, assuming it can
be guaranteed to be free of all traces of herbicides which may have been sprayed on the pasture
that the cattle or horses grazed. Organic matter of any type should be well-rotted so it can easily be incorporated into the soil. And to avoid future problems, check it for roots of pernicious perennial weeds such as bindweed. Organic matter works to improve both soil structure
and nutrient content. In light, sandy soils it works as glue, binding particles together to improve its ability to retain moisture and nutrients. For heavy clay soils,
it opens them up so they can drain more easily. No matter what your soil type, it will truly
benefit from regular applications of organic matter to feed and sustain the plants grown in it. You can add organic matter at any time of year, but the end of the growing season is an especially good time. Barrow it onto vacant ground,
then spread it out to a depth of at least 2 inches(5cm). It’s usually not necessary to dig it in –
just leave it on the surface over winter and by spring the worms in the soil will have done a great job of incorporating most of that organic matter into the soil. Should any remain on the surface, you can always
fork it in a few weeks before it’s time to sow or plant. Organic matter may also be laid around established
fruit trees, shrubs and canes, and around perennial vegetables such as artichoke or
asparagus where it will have the twin benefits of feeding the plants
and suppressing weeds. Do this towards the end of winter. Soil pH determines whether a soil is acid,
alkaline, or somewhere in between. Knowing your soil’s pH
will help you to decide what to grow in it. For example, particularly acidic soil
is great for acid-lovers like blueberry, while soil with a higher (or alkaline) pH is
preferred by brassicas such as cabbage and cauliflower. Test your soil using a pH test kit. The accompanying color chart will help
determine whether your soil is acidic, neutral or alkaline. For best results,
take soil samples from several parts of your plot so you can decide which areas need amending. For example, soil can be
improved for growing brassicas by adding garden lime, which works to raise soil PH
so it’s more alkaline, while organic matter will generally move pH towards a
level that’s ideal for most fruits and vegetables. Getting a little familiar
with the soil that sustains our crops means we can keep it in tip-top condition. And your crops? Well, they’ll reward you for it! Let us know what type of soil you have, and how
you look after it in the comments section below. And don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t done so already. I’ll catch you next time. [Music]