There are different types of soil, each of which has different effects on the plants that grow from them. Soil is the outer level of ground forming the “skin” of the Earth. Lot’s of things are part of soil, including hardened stones, dead organic matter like the remains of vegetables and creatures that once roamed the Earth. It is almost like the ocean, in that there is a whole world of dead beings residing beneath the surface. What you see today, however, did not arise over night; soil is the work of years and years of natural forces like erosion. When we create a taxonomy of soils, what we actually classify is the various contents of the most superficial layer of the earth. Geologists recognize six basic types of soil in this taxonomy:
Six basic types of soil
Fine-grained soil has the smallest hard “rocks” and they cling together. Typically, fine-grained soil is clay. Because it is so tightly packed, it doesn’t allow pockets of air to form while at the same time trapping high levels of moisture. All this moisture contributes to root rot in plants. Farmers and gardeners hate this soil because it requires so much extra labor.
Of the types of soil, this one has the largest constituents, being largely made up of tiny rocks. The typical kind of soil that fits into this category is sand. Granular soil allows the greatest amount of air and water to pass through it. Nature creates granular soil by breaking up rock formations such as granite, limestone, quartz, and shale.
Granular soil works best for cultivation when it has natural nutrients embedded in it, but even when this is the case, granular soil’s inability to retain water during warm weather makes it difficult for flora to grow from it. If you try to grow a plant in granular soil, be sure to boost the amount of your watering to keep your plant from dehydrating. A side benefit of granular soil is that it forms a natural immunization against root rot, since it will not allow water to rest next to the roots.
Rich silt soil is like the golden mean between fine-grained and granular soil. It often contains Quartz and other organic matter. It is somewhat sandy but with more nutrients than granular soil. It holds more water than granular soil, making it is also better to work with for farmers.
Tri-part soil is a mix of fine-grained, granular, and rich silt soils. This mix makes it the best kind of soil for cultivating plants. Of all types of soil, it comes closest to having the perfect balance of water accumulation and drainage. You can find a range of tri-part soil from a muddy kind that verge on the clay of the fine-grained type to the sod that is more like the granular kind.
Of the types of soil, marshy soil is the kind that contains the most organic substances. In fact, it is made up of the lifeless detritus of plants, animals, and insects. This is the kind of soil making up bogs and marshes. People will often call this soil “peat.” The level of acids in peat keep the dead bodies of plants and animals from being fully absorbed into the earth.
You usually get this kind of soil in the rainier parts of the world. Though there are the sorts of organic substances typical of soil high in nutrients, the nutrients in this soil are absent. Adding to the difficulties of cultivation is root rot that occurs because of the excessive wetness. With a great deal of labor however, farmers can cultivate this soil.
Chalky soil is the opposite of marshy soil in that it is alkaline and is made up of a large number of stones. It gets too dry during warm weather for cultivation. High levels of iron and magnesium further complicate matters because they impede plants form drawing the nutritional elements they need.
Although most of the plants we usually think of as being garden plants tend to fair best tri-part soil, there are also other types of plants—like desert plants, for example—that will thrive much better in other soils. A lot depends on where the plant originated and what kinds of soil it thrived in at those locations.