Soils in the Garden

Where people meet soils

Did you know that gardens can provide relief from the stresses of everyday life, a source of aesthetic pleasure and also a valuable source of family food?

The garden, for most people, is the place where soil matters most. Gardening books usually begin with a chapter on soil and so gardeners usually have a good understanding of what a rich or fertile soil is. Terms such as ‘loamy' and ‘tilth' are part of the language used to describe what the gardener is striving for. However, soil is often wrongly blamed for poor growth, forgetting the problems caused by weather, drainage, drought, pests and disease, or poor seeds.

Over the last decade there has been increased interest in growing your own food, allotment gardening, and organic production. An understanding of soil, especially the topsoil, is central to getting the best from our gardens and it is possible to understand a lot more with a few simple observations. This basic knowledge will not only increase enjoyment of gardening but may produce better results, or at least limit disappointment. This leaflet aims to offer some basic tools to guide anyone with an interest in what makes the garden grow.