Loamy soil, an opportunity for the gardener

What is loamy soil?

We are talking about soil texture, ie grain size (types of particles that make up the soil).

Clays are the finest particles (earth consisting mainly of clay is clayey soil), while sand is the coarsest (earth consisting mainly of sand is sandy soil).

Silt is an intermediate stage between sand and clay.

The soil is said to silt when this element is the majority in the soil.

But all silty soils are not really the same: it ranges from sandy-loamy soil (a soil that is also well endowed with sand and therefore relatively light) to loam-clay (endowed with clay and therefore heavier), through the silty soil (mainly consists of sludge).

In Mon Potager au Naturel you will find simple tests to determine the type of soil in your garden with sufficient accuracy (either to know whether you have clay soil, sandy soil or loam soil).

Advantages and disadvantages of a loam soil

Loamy soil is naturally balanced in texture.

Not too heavy and not too light, it holds nutrients and water well.

A loamy sandy soil will be lighter and will therefore retain less water and nutrients than a loamy soil or even more than a loamy clay soil… but will warm up better.

Conversely, a loamy soil will be colder and more difficult to warm up. But it will hold water very well (so less watering in perspective) as well as nutrients.

But loamy soil does not only have advantages (that would be too simple!).

Indeed, sludge soils compact relatively easily, both by trampling and even by rain.

And it is particularly sensitive to the phenomenon of battance.

This treatment will result in the formation of a surface crust, making direct seeding difficult and preventing water from infiltrating the soil.

The lower the clay content of a soil and the higher the silt content, the more sensitive the soil to extinguishing.

Likewise, the less a soil is filled with organic matter, the more it will swing.

But by taking good care of your soil, as we will now see, the filling will no longer be a problem.

Hoe until the ground is covered

If the soil has not yet been covered (either because it is still too cold to do so, or due to a lack of mulching material, or for a crop where mulching could be problematic from, for example, rodents or snails), regular hoeing is imperative to to prevent the formation of a surface crust… or to break it quickly before it becomes too hard.

The best time to hoe is shortly after a rain shower, not too early, not too late… the soil should still be moist enough for the tool to penetrate, but not soggy (not only would you find it difficult to work , but clods, which are difficult to break later) can form.

But as far as possible and reasonable (we don’t garden to see a crop completely devoured by snails or voles…), a ground cover will be the best approach for loamy soil.

Add organic matter to cover and enrich the soil

By covering the soil of your garden with different materials (green materials and brown materials) and varied (cuttings, green waste from the kitchen, crop residues, shredded material, manure, straw, hay, dead leaves, etc.) over the seasons (and therefore, depending on the availability of these materials), your soil is not only enriched (via the decomposition of these materials), but also protected from this famous phenomenon of battance (the raindrops are muffled by the mulch).

To do this, a progressive mulch like I show in this video will be perfect.

Growing green manures

If a limp crust has formed at the end of summer, a crop of green manures with creeping roots (ie mostly horizontal growing) will ensure that the surface soil is decompressed and aerated and protected from this phenomenon in the fall and winter. ..

And if your soil is packed in more deeply, a green manure, this time with taproot (or sinking) roots, will be very beneficial for that.

Well… green manures are best mixed with sagging roots and green manures with creeping roots. A mustard/oat/bean mixture is perfect for working both superficially and deeply.

A good mulch will greatly reduce the need for water.

As an indication, in covered silty soil, abundant watering every 10 days is sufficient for most crops.

But the water requirement depends on the species and stage of development of the plant in question (I specify this in My Natural Vegetable Garden).

As long as you maintain it properly, a loamy soil will give you complete satisfaction and give you a bountiful harvest…