There are many different kinds of farming soil for potting plants. There is natural soil, which you may dig up out of your yard or a field. It may be sandy, silty, peaty, chalky, rich top soil or clay. You may create potting soil by mixing natural soil with compost, perlite or peat moss. There are many premixed, commercial potting soils from which to choose. A soil test kit, or taking a sample to a county extension agency, will reveal the type of soil and what nutrients the soil may be lacking. Here follows an explanation of the different kinds of soil.
Topsoil is the rich, black dirt that is found in the top layer of the earth's crust. Topsoil is an excellent growing medium for potted plants. If you purchase topsoil, buy from a supplier with an excellent reputation. In this unregulated industry, every topsoil is different. Most people amend to soil with compost, perlite and/or peat moss to aid water retention and fertilization.
Clay soil must be amended before use in gardening or farming. Left unaltered, clay soil is not a good medium for growing potted plants. It retains too much water, and it is hard for plants to thrive in this heavy soil type. It is best amended with compost. Some amendments include sawdust, coffee grounds, used tea bags, perlite, buckwheat hulls, rice hulls, peat moss, and ground mulch. All of these aid in drainage and help to "lighten up" the soil. Work your amendments into the ground thoroughly using a tiller or hoe.
Sandy soil does not retain water very well. Sandy soil has a gritty feel to it. Although it can be used for gardening, sandy soil often needs amendment to help it retain water, such as compost. However, there are certain plants that thrive in sandy soil, such as the melon family.
This is the best type of soil for gardening. Loam is full of organic matter rich in nutrients and living organisms. This type of fluffy soil springs back from the touch. It neither holds too much water, such as clay, or too little, as with sand. It usually contains approximately 40 percent sand, 40 percent silt and 20 percent clay.
This is a good soil type for gardening. It resembles dark sand. Silt feels smooth and powdery. Silty soil offers many nutrients and it holds moisture well. It may still need to be amended, however, to achieve the ideal nutrient levels.
This type of acidic soil retains too much water and does not have enough nutrients. Although it can be used successfully for gardening, it must be amended with fertilizers and something to assist in proper drainage.
This light brown soil is often full of bits of stone. It is very hard to grow plants in chalky soils. The soil must be amended with fertilizer, compost and other materials to achieve the ideal balance.