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September 18, 2019
Although scientists use many methods to classify soil, gardeners usually describe soil using words like “sandy,” “clay,” and “loam.” These terms describe a soil’s texture. Knowing your soil’s texture will help you predict how it will behave under different conditions. It’s the first step toward creating the best conditions for the plants you’re growing.
A soil’s texture is determined by the mineral particle sizes it contains. Sand, silt, and clay — the mineral particles in soil — are derived from rock broken down over thousands of years by climatic and environmental conditions (rain, glaciers, wind, rivers, animals, etc.).
The ratio of particle sizes affects the amount of pore space — the space between the mineral particles — and therefore the amount of air and water a soil can hold. It also affects other characteristics. The smaller the soil particles, for example, the more they bind together when wet. Thus, clay soils can be sticky and difficult to work. They drain poorly and have less pore space for air, so roots may suffer from a lack of oxygen. However, clay soils are often rich in plant nutrients. In contrast, sandy soils can drain water too quickly for healthy plant growth and tend to be low in nutrients, but they are easier to work. Adding organic material can offset many of the problems associated with either extreme.
While there’s no such thing as a perfect soil, different plants grow best in different types of soil. Most common garden plants prefer loam — soils with a balance of different-sized mineral particles (approximately 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay) with ample organic matter and pore space. However, some plants grow better in sandy soils, while others are well-adapted to clay soils.
To encourage butterflies to reside in your garden, it’s best to include food sources in the form of host plants for caterpillars and nectar plants for butterflies. А butterfly’s wish listalso includes sunny open spaces, shelter from the wind, and fresh water. It’s also crucial to opt for using native plant varieties in your garden, as these will be the most beneficial to the butterflies and caterpillars in your area.
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