You can’t garden without soil. Yet most people take it for granted.
This Guide to Soil offers everything you need to know about soil tests, soil health, composting, and more.
Why bother learning about soil?
Good soil grows great plants. Soil health is perhaps the most important thing to learn in the world of gardening. Soil nurtures, sustains, supports and provides everything plants need for their growth (except for sunlight of course).
Sure, you can grow plants in water solutions. Hydroponics fascinates many people. I can’t stand it. Give me dirt, soil, good old-fashioned mud, the teeming food web seething under the soil. It’s my kind of life.
What’s the difference between dirt and soil?
When I started working at a garden center, I mistakenly called soil “dirt.” You should have seen the look on the face of the expert gardener in front of me. Ouch!
There’s a big difference between dirt and soil. Although we use the terms interchangeably in everyday conversation, soil is a natural resource composed of minerals, organic material, water and air. It’s essential for plant growth and provides nutrients and a suitable environment for plants to grow.
On the other hand, dirt is nutrient poor and doesn’t support plant growth. Dirt can mean debris and infertile elements, too. Soil gives life; dirt can be what’s left over after life is gone.
All About Soil
Soil Test Guide
Other Resources About Soil
What Is Soil? – US Department of Agriculture
Soil Organic Matter – Cornell University
The Secrets of Soil – Smithsonian Institution