Texture Checkup

This simple, do-it-yourself test provides very important information about your soil.

You will need:

• A Mason Jar or any clear glass jar with a lid
• Powdered dishwasher detergent (acts to help separate the soil)
• Water
• Wax pencil or crayon (to mark the levels of soil as it settles)
• Soil samples from your Garden

  1. Gather some soil from the garden, choosing multiple samples from near the surface and down to a depth of up to 8 inches. If you have dry clay, crush it into a fine granulated powder, and mix well.
  2. Put a 1-inch layer (a little over a cup) in a mason jar with 1/4 teaspoon powdered dishwasher detergent.
  3. Add enough water to fill the jar 2/3 full. Shake the jar for 60 seconds, turning it upside down as needed to get all the soil off the bottom.
  4. Place the jar on a flat surface, where it will not be disturbed and allow it to settle.
  5. One minute later, mark the level of settled particles on the jar with the crayon or wax pencil. This first measurement is the amount of sand in your soil.
  6. Five minutes later, mark the level of soil that has settled. This is the amount of silt in your soil.
  7. Over the next hour or so, the remaining soil will settle and allow you to make your final measurement. This final measurement is the amount of clay that your soil contains will slowly settle out and allow you to take the final measurement. These measurements show the relative percentages of sand, silt, and clay—the texture of your soil.