A gardener’s success or failure is in the soil. Knowing the soil types present on your land will guide what may grow best in your garden, and potentially how to amend your beds.
There are four constituents to soil, Sand, Silt, Clay, and Humus. Sand, Silt, and Clay refer to the size of the inorganic soil particles. Sand is the largest and loosest particle, followed by significantly smaller sediment building Silt, and then the finest tightly compacting Clay particles. Humus is the organic material contained in the soil comprised of plants that have decayed over time. The mix of these inorganic constituents combined with the amount of humus creates what is referred to as loam. All soil types are simply some naturally occurring combination of these components, where the triangle chart to the left places the three soil particles at 100% in the corners and pure humas presented as loam in the center. Moving along the sides of the triangle from one particle to the other changes the mix on a percentage basis, and presents the respective type of soil.
A land owner can take this soil knowledge to the next level and study the specific mixes, which all have their own names, and an amazing resource is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) & Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). They have built a website with soil surveys of the entire United States, so a gardener is able to research the specific soil types/names present on their property.
For River Bend Gardens, I employed an application AcreValue, which uses the same NRCS maps.