Creating good fertile soil is half way to creating a beautiful garden the easier a soil is to work the more pleasure gardening becomes. The ideal soil is loam this soil contains clay, silt and sand in such proportions together with humus will hold water, foods and air for the plant to use and thrive.
The ideal garden soil will be free draining, water holding, dark soil that contain plant foods that can be used by the plants to fulfil their potential. This be a fertile soil with plenty of life in it. A good indicator of fertile soil is stinging nettles. If you can see nettles then the soil is in good heart.
Adding more organic matter like manure, leaves, peat and composted material will encourage a better texture and structure as well as introducing humus into the soil. As the structure improves so does the water holding and fertility.
The color of the soil is important this gives a clue the amount of humus that is holding the other constituents together. The darker the color the more organic matter and humus the soil contains. The darker the color of the soil the quicker it will warm up in the spring and better for early growth of plants.
It would be nice to be able to start every garden with perfect growing soil and conditions, but in the real world it must be done adding and adjusting as the seasons and years pass, cultivating our garden by mixing in what we want with what we have.
It never a ending job and should be regarded as a priority the background to a successful garden partnership with the plants.
Before you dig a single hole for a new plant we have to know two things.
1 How good is the drainage?
2 What kind of plants will do best in the soil you have? Do a soil test.
How good your drainage is can be discovered by digging an hole and seeing how long it takes for water to drain away. Water that takes a few minutes is very free draining and is likely to need either lots of water or some means of holding on to it for longer.
Improve the organic matter levels by adding manure, compost, leaves, into the planting holes. Water that soaks into the sides of the hole and takes about half a day to dissipate is about right for most plants.
Water that takes over three days to drain must be considered only suitable for bog type plants or land drains.