Q: In an effort to understand the composition of some problem soil, I’ve taken a sample, put it in a jar, added water, then shook it up. I left it a few days until it separated into its components. However, I’m not sure what I’m looking at. In what order does the sand, clay and silt settle out?
A: Sand is on the bottom, silt is in the middle and clay is on top. Some organic particles may float on the surface of the water and the water itself will remain cloudy forever.
If the layer of clay is more than fifty percent of the soil column, more humus and gritty sand is needed for your problem bed.
In a ten square foot flower bed area, I add a two cubic foot bag of soil conditioner plus two bags of gritty paver leveling sand. Once everything is mixed together thoroughly the soil stays soft and productive for years.