Know Thy Soil With This Simple Jar Test

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Hoping to plant a garden this spring? Knowledge of your soil will help tremendously and one of the easiest ways to discover the composition of your soil is through this simple jar test. (I already knew I had sandy soil before this test, but I didn't realize how little clay I was working with.)
First, grab a quart-sized mason jar and a shovel and head to the area of your yard where you plan to have your garden. Dig a small hole, removing as much grass as possible from the soil. Fill the jar 2/3rds full with the soil.
Next, fill the jar up to just below the neck with water.
Give the jar a good long shake.
Allow the jar to sit undisturbed for at least a week. The larger particles will settle faster but it takes more time for the fine, clay particles to settle. In fact, the longer the jar sits, the more detailed the layers will be. From here you can decide how you need to mend your soil for planting.
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Leilani Smith

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 8 questions
  • Ewoundedshield
    on Nov 29, 2018

    How can I tell if the soil is good for tomatoes?

    • Toni Hembree
      on Feb 7, 2020

      Well, you could try this door mat:

      I received this door mat for Christmas - I couldn't resist sharing i

  • Linda Reuter-Mechling
    on Feb 25, 2019

    My soil has a lot of clay what do I need

    • Biddy
      on Oct 21, 2019

      Add expanded shale. If you don’t find an abundance of earth worms when you dig add them to your garden. They loosen and enrich the soil when they leave casings. Remember sand and clay are used to make brick.

  • Linda Poteat Day
    on Sep 5, 2019

    Really great ideas. Also isn't Epsom salts good for enriching the soil and keeping bugs away?

    • Chris Ann Hanousek
      on Oct 21, 2019

      Epsom salts, in small amounts, are supposed to help tomatoes. I added Epsom salts this year and my tomato plants grew fast and green. But the majority of the fruits had lots of blossom end rot. We did have a very wet spring, but I am not experimenting with Epsom salts again.

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