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Homeschool Garden Club - How Can I Improve My Soil for Next Year’s Garden Club Activities?

The first thing you need to do is to identify your soil type. This counts as science, so record these activities in your evidence folder.

As part of their science lesson, you will need to know as it helps you choose the right plants, fruits and vegetables and they thrive.

There are six types of soils.

1. Chalky soils are very alkaline and may be light or heavy. The soil depth is often shallow.

2. Clay soils are heavy to dig, but high in nutrients, they are water logged in the winter and baked hard in the summer.

3. Loam soils are a mixture of clay, sand and slit and the best of the six as it avoids the extremes of each type.

4. Peat soils are very high in organic matter and moisture.

5. Sandy soils are light, dry and warm but often very low in nutrients and often acidic.

6. silt soils are fertile, light but moist but easy to compact.

The First Experiment - The Rolling Hand Test

You will need:

  • a big handful of your soil


Take a handful and try to form it in the ball. In our area, We will have one of four types.

Interpreting The Results

If is feels gritty, and falls through your fingers and it cannot roll I to a sausage shape ball then it is probably is sandy soil.

If it is not obviously gritty or doesn't have large sand particles and does sort of stick together it may be a sandy loam.

If it easily rolls into a one thin sausage and can be smoothed in to a shiny finish by rubbing with a finger. if it is not heavy clay you will find is is not so easy to make shiny but will be easier to make the sausage ball.

If you live within a good 10 miles of my house you will have a very stoney soil that will need a lot of improvement. So, either sign up for the compost session or put in raised beds.

The Second Experiment - Calcium Carbonate Test

You will need:

  • an old jam jar

  • vinegar (enough to half fill the jar)


  1. Take a spoonful of your soil and put it into the jar with the vinegar.

Interpreting The Results

If the soils froths, they it has calcium carbonate (chalk) or limestone and is lime rich.

The Third Experiment - PH Soil Test

You will need:

  • a DIY Soil test kit from the garden centre.


  1. Always follow the sample directions given in the test kit to get a representative sample.

Interpreting The Results

Use the colour chart to tell if you have acid or alkaline soil. The soil PH is a number that describes how acid or alkaline your soil tis. A ph of 7.0 is considered neutral. an acid soil has a pH value below 7.0 and above 7.0 the soil is alkaline.

Manure Heaps Here We Come with Spades and Buckets!

the best way to improve the soil you have is to add lots and lots of organic matter. We need to make compost heaps. to do this we will need some horse manure, any rabbit or guinea pig and the plants we manage from the garden.

Now we like to do things a cheaply as we can here at Orchard Training Garden Club. We have some Study Buddies with horses. We have some gardens in need of horse manure both fresh and well-rotted down.

We have some Study Bubbies with guinea pigs and some compost bins in need for the old bedding.

We have some Study Buddies who have gardens.

Hmmm! What can we do here? Remember shifting manure is physical hard word and so counts towards you 1 hour of movement each day. Do more than an hour over the course of a week and it counts as P.E. - record it in our evidence diary.

we will be having some session on making up the compost bins and what we need to add in what order and how much for each soil type.


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