How to know the nature of the soil in your vegetable garden?

Before growing vegetables in the vegetable garden, it is essential to know the nature of the soil. Garden soil is the growing medium from which plants draw all the nutrients they need to grow and, in this case, be as productive as possible but also resist disease. Knowing the nature of your soil makes it possible to select the vegetables for which it is best suited, or even to make some modifications if necessary in order to correct it. So let’s see how analyze the soil of the vegetable gardenWhat are the different types of soiltheir advantages and their disadvantagesand what corrections can be made to improve them.

How to analyze the nature of the soil in the vegetable garden?

Of great complexity, the ground is made up of various organic materialsparticles from mineralsd’animals and of plant microorganisms. It is unquestionably a living matter.

But there are different types of soil, each more particularly suitable for certain families of plants that you want to grow in the vegetable garden. Hence the interest of carrying out, before sowing and planting, an analysis of the soil in your garden.

There are several ways to analyze vegetable garden soil:analysis visual possibly achievable by observing it but also by looking at the different plants that develop there perfectly. To this observation we can add thecontact analysis, requiring to take a handful of soil in order to study it by touch. Finally, it is also possible to determine the type of soil using specific material to measure the rate of hydrogen potential (pH).

Anyway, to know what is the nature of the soil of your vegetable garden, you must take into account the following elements:

  • The granulometry sandy and calcareous elements,
  • The proportion represented by each of its components (limestone, clay, sand, humus, etc.),
  • The pHvariable according to the nature of the soil, an index making it possible to know the trend in terms ofalkalinityof neutrality oracidity. It is considered that a very alkaline soil has a pH of 8, that it is neutral if the pH is 7 and that a soil is very acid when its pH is only 4. Depending on its limestone content, a loam can be alkaline, neutral or acid.

Note that for an extremely accurate analysis of the pH of garden soil, it is necessary to rely on a laboratory. No need to go through this if you are an amateur gardener. Of the strips easy to use allow you to perform a test. Once the analysis has been carried out, it is possible to apply corrective measures to improve the soil of the garden.

Vegetable garden soil: the different types

The various physical constituents of garden soil are:

  • The sable,
  • The calcium carbonate more or less pure, i.e. limestone,
  • A connecting element, namely theclaywhich fixes fertilizers and stores rainwater and irrigation water,
  • Plant debris that has decomposed or is in the process of decomposition, namelyhumus.

But we identify different types of soils according to the tendencies of each one. All have advantages and almost all have some disadvantages. This is shown in the following table, where it is also possible to find the means by which one can improve (correct) the soil structure of one’s vegetable garden.

Nature of the soil in the vegetable garden



Improvement solutions

Free land

This is the soil that every gardener would like to find on his land. It has all the advantages of all other types of floors without having the disadvantages. Loam is perfectly balanced soil.

You can grow whatever you want there.


No need for patches. It is enough simply to maintain its structure and preserve its natural fertility. We can therefore be satisfied with a few fertilizer inputs and possibly with liming to limit insect attacks, fungal diseases, etc.

Sandy earth or siliceous earth

It is a soil that works easily all year round and warms up quickly in the spring, which is a plus for early sowing in good conditions. Thanks to the good proportion of sand which enters its composition, this earth is draining, its permeability is important.

You can grow aromatic herbs, asparagus, potatoes, salsify, strawberries, garlic, turnips…

It requires regular watering because it dries out quickly, especially in summer. Regular fertilizer inputs are also necessary because the siliceous soil is poor in fertilizing elements and poorly retains soluble fertilizers such as nitrogen.

The siliceous or sandy soil must be regularly and copiously enriched with organic matter such as peat, manure, etc. It is also useful to lime it when the acidity level increases and nitrogen inputs are necessary as soon as necessary.

Humus soil

It heats up quickly in the spring sun and retains water well while being permeable. It is a land that works without difficulty, and is well supplied with nutrients. Humus-rich soil is ideal for vegetable garden plants that need a moderately acidic growing medium.

We plant radishes, tomatoes, chives, cabbage, asparagus, even artichokes, rhubarb, raspberries, sorrel, squash, potatoes….

Due to its acidity, not all vegetables can be grown there. This acidity also prevents the proper assimilation of fertilizing elements. In addition, in case of poor drainage, this soil is extremely wet which favors diseases.

Liming humus-rich soil helps neutralize acidity. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers should be avoided.

clay soil

It contains an interesting rate of nutrients, fertilizers and water (rain or irrigation) are well retained by the clay soil. It is therefore a significant asset when the vegetable garden experiences drought or scorching summer temperatures.

It is suitable for beetroot, cabbage, tomato, eggplant or even lettuce.

In the spring, the clay soil warms up very slowly under the rays of the sun so that it remains cold long after the onset of spring. This is explained by its very impermeable character. It is difficult to work because it is very sticky if wet or very compact and hard if dry.

It is essential to dig clay soil at the end of autumn, to amend it generously with peat, manure or compost. Care must also be taken to make it more draining and its structure can be corrected with lime.

calcareous earth

When it is composed of particles with medium or large grain size, the calcareous soil proves to be very permeable. The manure decomposes quickly. This land works well in all seasons provided it is dry.

You can grow tomatoes, aubergines, cabbages, cardoons, artichokes, but also carrots after removing the stones in depth.

However, it is a land in which it is highly preferable to plant in autumn rather than in March or April, and of course to grow plants that tolerate alkaline soils.

As soon as it rains, the limestone soil becomes muddy, difficult to work. Avoid cultivating plants sensitive to chlorosis such as strawberries or pears. It is also garden soil that contains few fertilizing elements.

From November it is necessary to deeply dig a calcareous soil then to amend it copiously with complete fertilizers and organic manure. You can also lime it.

To know what to plant in your vegetable garden to get good production, you must of course take into account the main chemical elements of the soil, namely:

  • L’Nitrogen (N), which promotes leaf growth: it is essential for young plants, leeks, spinach, salads, cabbage and other leafy vegetables.
  • The Phosphorus (P), essential for the development of roots, flowers and fruits: it should not be missing if you grow fruit vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, zucchini, as well as legumes.
  • The Potassium (K), promoting the accumulation of reserves in the root system: it is essential for fruit trees, potatoes, garlic and other tubers, but also for root vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, the radish…

Of course, a good gardener must observe your garden all year round to detect signs of nutrient deficiencies. This makes it possible to react quickly with specific inputs.

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