So often we hear the saying “well-drained soil”, but what exactly does this mean? You can buy a gardening manual, read the back of a package of seeds, and there it is: “well-drained soil”. Basically, it refers to the quality of your soil. Soil should have good structure, meaning that it should be able to hold up the vegetation which gets planted in it, but it should also be porous; a porous soil allows water and nutrients to flow freely; porous soil allows airflow to keep plant roots at their optimal health. Good pores actually develop from soils which are well-structured—not sandy.
How to determine “Well-Drained Soil”
Dig a square hole in the soil one-foot by one-foot. Fill this hole completely up with water, and then allow the water to drain completely. This saturates the soil, and slows the drainage process if indeed the soil is non-porous. When the water has completely drained from the hole, fill it up again, all the way to the top, and then place a ruler in the watery hole to determine the height of the water. Write down the number, and then start a timer for fifteen minutes. When the fifteen minutes have passed then again measure the amount of water still in the hole. Multiply the number you measure at the fifteen-minute mark to determine the hourly rate; if the hourly rate is above one-inch per hour then you have “Well-Drained Soil”. The number should actually be a drainage of between one to six inches. Conversely, when the number is over six inches per hour, then the soil is too dry.
While there are several methods to improve drainage, the only way to improve the soil is to add compost or other amendments—maybe even smaller bumper crops—to the soil. Soil that is well-balanced with quality compost will drain better. Rocky Mountain Compost is ready to help with all of your soil and compost needs. If you have any questions make sure to call today. Even though it’s still winter, there’s no better time than ahead-of-time to plan for spring.