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Types of Soil
There are six major soil groups: clay, sandy, silty, peaty, chalky, and loamy. Each of these soil has different properties and understanding and knowing this will help you select the best soil for your garden.

1. Clay Soil

Clay soil feels lumpy to the touch and becomes sticky when wet and is rock hard when dry. It has a poor drainage system with few air spaces. During spring, the soil will warm up slowly and is heavy to cultivate. Enhancing the drainage for the soil will help develop and grow well as clay soil can be rich in nutrients.

Best suited for, Perennials and shrubs such as Helen’s Flower, Aster, Bergamot, Flowering quince. Shrubs, fruit trees, and ornamental trees grow well in clay soils.

2. Sandy Soil

Sandy soil feels grainy. This kind of soil drains easily, dries out fast, and is easy to cultivate. During spring sandy soil warms up fast and tends to hold fewer nutrients as they are often washed away during heavy rains. Sandy soil requires organic blends such as glacial rock dust, greensand, kelp meal, or other organic fertilizer blends to make it ideal for growing plants. Mulching benefits the soil by helping it retain moisture.

Best suited for, Shrubs and bulbs such as Tulips, Tree mallow, Sun roses, Hibiscus. Root crops such as carrots, parsnips and potatoes favour sandy soils. Lettuce, strawberries, peppers, corn, squash, zucchini, collard greens, and tomatoes are grown commercially in sandy soils.

3. Silty Soil

Silty soil is soft and soapy to the touch. It holds moisture and tends to be very rich in nutrients. If drainage is provided and managed properly this is a great soil for your garden. Mixing in composted organic matter is usually needed to improve the fertility and drainage capacity of the soil.

Best suited for, shrubs, climbers, grasses and perennials such as Mahonia, New Zealand flax. Most vegetable and fruit thrive in silty soils which have adequate drainage.

4. Peaty Soil

Peaty soil is darker in colour and feels damp and spongy due to the higher levels of peat present in it. It is acidic in nature; slows down decomposition and leads to the soil having fewer nutrients. This soil tends to retain a lot of water which usually requires drainage. When blended with organic matter, lime and compost, it offers umpteen benefits for the growth of plants. 

Best suited for, shrubs such as Heather, Lantern Trees, Witch Hazel, Camellia, Rhododendron. Legumes, Brassicas, root crops, and salad crops do well in well-drained peaty soils.

5. Chalky Soil

Chalky soil is grainier and stonier when compared to other soils. It is free draining and is usually found above a chalk or limestone bedrock. The alkaline nature of this type of soil can occasionally lead to stunted growth and yellowish leaves; which can be resolved by using appropriate organic fertilizers and balancing the pH levels. Adding humus is recommended to improve water retention and workability.

Best suited for, Trees, bulbs and shrubs such as Lilac, Weigela, Madonna lilies, Pinks, Mock Oranges. Spinach, beets, sweet corn, and cabbage do well in chalky soils.

6. Loamy Soil

Loamy soil is a relatively even mix of sand, silt, and clay, it has a fine-texture and is slightly damp. It tends to be acidic and requires regular replenishing with organic matter. It has the ideal characteristics for potted and garden plants. It warms up quickly in spring but doesn’t dry out quickly in summer. It has great structure, adequate drainage, retains moisture, is full of nutrients, and easily cultivated.

Best suited for: Climbers. bamboos, perennials, shrubs, and tubers such as Wisteria, Dog’s-tooth violets, Black Bamboo, Rubus, Delphinium. Most vegetable and berry crops do well since loamy soil can be the most productive of soil types. However, careful care must be given to loamy soil to prevent depletion and drying out. Rotating crops, planting green manure crops, using mulches, and adding compost and organic nutrients is essential to retain soil vitality.

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