A plant that likes calcareous soil will not  thrive on clayey soil. It is therefore important to know the nature of the soil before choosing the suitable crops. Some tests and indications can then be useful to determine this composition. But for added precision, chemical tests are recommended so that, depending on the results, the necessary adjustments can be made.

The ground is made up of several elements, the most abundant of which determines its characteristics. But there are also other parameters to be taken into account to determine the ground composition; including its texture, structure, and pH, among others. Finally, the soil’s content in terms of organic matter should not be minimized, as this type of information is very useful to determine if the nutrient supplies that they provide are adapted to the plants being grown.

Soil characteristics

Soil texture is none other than its visible or tangible physical properties. For example, a soil is said to be light if it crumbles easily and heavy if it becomes sticky in case of abundant humidity. Soil permeability is also a factor to take into consideration. To determine it, one must dig a 12-inch (30 cm) deep hole in the ground to be analysed. Pour water in and estimate the time it takes for the water to seep in. If the soil is impermeable, the water will remain longer at the surface, which will inevitably smother the roots and increase the risk of developing various diseases. In most cases, a supply of sand is enough to solve this problem, although sometimes it is necessary to set up an underground draining network. Soil pH also needs to be determined because some plants prefer acidic soils, while others have a preference for basic soils. Nonetheless, most are able to adapt to a neutral soil. To find out the soil pH, use pH test strips. You can purchase them in chemist’s shops or hardware stores.  Put a handful of earth to be tested in a container of distilled water. Then, stir the mixture for a few seconds before dipping in the pH test strip. It will indicate the pH’s approximate value. For information purposes, know that neutral soil has a pH of 7, acidic soil has a pH below 7 and basic soil has a pH above 7.

Humus soil

Soils are usually classified into four categories: humus, calcareous, clay and sandy, even though this list is not all-comprehensive. Humus soil or loam is distinguished by its dark colour. Rich in humus, this type of land can be worked easily and is a source of food for plants. It is not impermeable but it retains water well. However, it has a high acid content, and as such it may not be suitable for a number or plants. In fact, the only wild plants growing on this type of soil are mainly mosses and ferns.  It is imperative to correct this acidity level by adding lime at the rate of one treatment every two years. It is also advisable to increase the soil’s permeability by adding sand and clay at the same rate as lime. Improved humus soil is very suitable for the potato, tomato, leek and garlic.

Calcareous soil

Unlike humus soil, calcareous soil is basic and has a light colour tending to white. Given that it is rocky, it allows both water and nutrients to pass through easily.  With this type of soil, the transformation of organic matter into humus is done very easily. Dry and hot in summer, it quickly turns into a pool of mud when it rains. Some flowers, such as cornflower, poppy and thistle, spontaneously grow on calcareous soil. To amend it, reduce its basicity by bringing in manure, peat and heath earth. Some vegetables, such as carrots, eggplant, potato, tomato, peas and shallots, will adapt easily, as will also be the case of fruits like grapes, plums and hazelnuts.

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Published in Gardening by Alexander on 07 Sep 2011