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Testing, 1, 2, 3, ...(the simple jar test)

soil jar test

Gather the following items:

  • 1 clean quart jar with a tight fitting lid
  • clean water
  • soil sample - take 5 hand trowel scoops of soil from about 4 inches deep in the garden - one each, from the 4 corners of the bed and one from in the center & mix together

Fill the jar with 2/3 water and 1/3 soil sample, leaving about an inch of air space at the top of the jar. Screw on the lid, and shake the jar vigorously for about a minute or two - until the soil is suspended in the water.

Allow the suspended soil to settle for about a minute, and place a mark on the side of the jar at the top of the layer that has settled out.

This is the sand layer. It is comprised primarily of sand and larger particles.

Set the jar aside, being careful not to mix the sand layer that has already settled and wait approximately an hour. Now, place a mark on the side of the jar at the top of the next layer to settle out. This is the silt layer.

Again, place the jar aside for a full day, being careful not to shake or mix the layers that have settled out. After 24 hours, or when the water is once again clear (more or less), place a mark on the side of the jar at the top of the final layer. This is the clay layer.

Measure each layer and determine the percentage it comprises from the whole. You can then determine your soil type by using the pyramid below.

Determining your soil type

soil type pyramid

Follow these easy steps to determine your garden soil type:

  1. Find the clay percentage on the left side of the triangle, and at that level, draw a horizontal line going left to right.
  2. Find the silt percentage on the right side of the soil chart, and at that percentage level, draw a diagonal vertical line from the top to the bottom left.
  3. Find the sand percentage at the bottom, and draw a diagonal vertical line from the bottom to the top left.
  4. Find where the three lines intersect, to determine your soil type.

This simple test, can help you to better understand your garden soil. If you want more accurate results consider sending a soil sample to a soil testing service.

 

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web page updated: 02.26.14