Kids’ Valley Garden

Testing Soil

soil jar

It's easy to find out the composition of your soil and the amount of organic matter in it. You will need:

Soil Types

  • a 4-cup mason jar (1 litre) with a lid
  • just a bit less than 3 cups (700 ml) of water
  • a squirt of dishwasher gel or powder, or TSP (Trisodium Phosphate), which you can find at a hardware or paint store
  • about cup (60 ml) of dirt from the top 8 inches (20 cm) of the garden
  • Fill the jar with the water and enough gel or TSP until the jar is full.
  • Add enough soil to the soap mixture to just about fill the jar.
  • Screw the lid on tightly and shake the jar well.
  • Put the jar somewhere it won't get bumped and let it stand overnight. This will allow the layers to separate and settle.
  • The next day, you should be able to see the different layers. The heaviest elements will be at the bottom of the jar, the lightest at the top.
  • Use the chart to determine what type of soil your garden most closely resembles.
  • Once you have tested the soil from your garden, you can learn the best way to condition and improve it.

soil caring


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