Gardening

What is Soil Made Of?

Soil type is one of the most important factors when it comes to gardening, and it will nearly always affect the types of plants, shrubs and trees you can grow.

No matter where you are in the country, it is something you’ll have to understand when starting out in your gardening journey.

What is soil made of?

Soil (one a very basic level) is composed of different layers, with different depths and different compounds (what it’s made of).

The main layers go from organic materials, top-soil, sub-soil, broken down rocks and lastly to solid rock (have a look below).

Soil Layers
Image credit: grilloservices.com

If you dig down far enough in your garden you should reach the water table. This goes up and down, depending on how much rain you’ve had recently.

It also depends on how much water is already “in the ground”.

Don’t worry too much about this as let’s be honest, there’s not a great deal you can do to control the rain (much as we all wish we could).

Above the water table you will find what is known as “sub soil”. The main element that you should understand about sub-soil is this. It needs to be able to drain away excess water.

Making sure your soil has good drainage means that the roots of your new plants aren’t going to rot, drown and die.

Understanding the Key Ingredients

Topsoil, Organic Materials & Humus

So you’re nearly ready to begin planting, but have a look below, there’s a few things to keep in mind when planting out your own garden, especially the essential layers.

Organic Materials – Essentially what it says on the tin. Organic matter is material which (hold your breath now) is organic.

It helps the topsoil to hold all the essential water and nutrients, and still lets the excess moisture drain away. Drainage is vital so the plants don’t drown and die.

It’s rich in bacteria and smaller organisms (sounds horrible and all “Eight Legged Freaks-esque”, if you’ve never heard of it, Google it) but it’s nothing to worry about.

Organic Matter
Image credit: efreshglobal.com

Your plants and garden actually needs them! These organisms break down the organic matter in the soil, which in turns gives your plants more nutrients.

Topsoil – Topsoil is typically fertile and where the magical growing happens. It’s where the broken down organic matter goes when it’s been broken down by the creepy-crawly bacteria and smaller organisms.

Top soil

This is one of the most important levels for your plants. The roots of the plants go through the topsoil, and this level is where most of the nutrients start their journey into the ground.

Humus – This is the result of broken down organic matter, helping the “good (not plant-drowning) water” retention, whilst also giving the roots of your beloved (and probably fledgling) plants room to breathe, and the all-important nutrients they need to thrive.

Humus

So there we have it, that’s soil – the very foundations of your garden. It may be a small patch of grass, or it might be acres of expansive woodland, but wherever you are, soil is everywhere.

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