Maximize Your Garden's Production By Using A Simple Glass Jar Soil Test

Beginner gardeners should know that one of the most important aspects of gardening starts with the type of soil you have. If you want to maximize your garden's production, you can do so with a simple glass jar soil test that will help determine how much clay, silt, and sand it contains. By following a certain technique, using a glass jar can help break down the soil and show the percentage of each natural material. This is important because the soil provides your plants' roots with the nutrients and oxygen they need to grow healthy and strong.

The soil also provides the structure for supporting the roots of the plants and protects them against erosion. It is also responsible for filtering contaminants away from the roots while holding onto the moisture that feeds them. So, it's very important to know what's in your soil before you attempt to grow anything in it. Every area of land is different and has different nutrients and components. Concomitantly, every plant is different and has different nutritional soil requirements, so you can use this test to find the most compatible location for anything you'd like to grow. 

The supplies you need

When it comes to the sand, silt, and clay in your dirt, knowing the percentages of each can help you determine the best spot for planting. It can also help you find your soil type, enlightening you about the kind of foods that will grow well in your garden. The test itself is fairly simple, and you just need something like a mason jar with a lid, a marker, a ruler, 1 tablespoon of powdered dishwasher detergent, and a kitchen sieve or strainer.

Start by taking a soil sample from at least 6 inches deep. You want to get a good representation of your soil, so you'll need to get down under the surface. Then, sift the soil through the stainer until you have very fine dirt and transfer it to the jar, filling it a ⅓ of the way up. Then, add 1 tablespoon of dishwasher detergent and enough water to leave about 1 or 2 inches of a gap at the top. Put the lid on and secure it tightly before shaking the jar up until the liquid is slimy and mixed up thoroughly. Now, set the jar down upright and allow the mixture to settle for one minute.

Finding the percentages

Once the minute has passed, take your marker and mark the top level of the jar. This is the sand level. After it has settled for two hours, mark the silt level. Then, you'll wait for two or three days until the water clears up to mark the final layer of clay. Then you'll need to measure the levels of each with the ruler, including the total soil height, which is the same as the level of clay, to figure out the percentages of each in your soil. To find the percentage of sand, divide the sand's height by the mixture's total height. For the silt, subtract the silt height from the sand height and divide it by the total height of the mixture. To get the percentage of clay, subtract the percentage of silt and sand by 100.

After you figure out the percentage of each of the components, you can go to the USDA Soil Texture Calculator and see where your soil falls on the pyramid. This will help determine what foods and other plants will do well in your soil. Lastly, consider having a soil test done to determine the pH level and what nutrients are in it. This way, if necessary, you can add the proper soil amendments. The better you know your soil, the better garden you can grow.