Calling all young gardeners to-be! Determining your soil texture is an important part of establishing your garden. The feel method for soil texture provides a quick and easy way to get an idea of your soil type. To start, place approximately 25g of dry soil in your palm. Add water and knead the soil to break down aggregates until the soil is moldable.
Does the soil remain in a ball when squeezed? If not, consider adding more soil or continuing to knead it if it is still too wet. If it still remains too loose, the soil may be sand.
If the soil remains in a ball when squeezed, take it between the thumb and forefinger and gently push the soil, squeezing it upwards into a ribbon. Allow the ribbon to emerge and extend until breaking under its own weight. If the soil does not form a ribbon, it may be sandy loam. If it does, then excessively wet a small pinch of the soil and rub with your forefinger.
If the soil makes a weak ribbon less than 2.5 cm long and feels very gritty, then it may be sandy loam. If it feels very smooth, then it may be silt loam. If neither girttiness or smoothness predominates, then the soil may be loam.
If the soil makes a medium ribbon 2.5 - 5 cm long before breaking and feels very gritty, then it may be sandy clay loam. If the soil feels very smooth, it may be silty clay loam. If the soil feels neither predominately gritty or smooth, then it may be clay loam.
If the soil makes a strong ribbon 5cm or longer before breaking and feels very gritty, then it may be sandy clay. If it feels very smooth, it may be silty clay. If the soil feels neither gritty or smooth, then the soil may be clay.
This quick and easy test is a fun, hands-on experiment with soil. The results may vary with the gardener and depend on variations of saturation and soil sample. Consider trying this with children or young gardeners who aren’t afraid of getting their hands a little dirty!
written by: Katie Winslow - Extension Intern