Improving Your Soil

Top 10 Interesting Facts About Soil

digging topsoil in the gardenSoil is often overlooked even though it is the foundation of a successful vegetable
garden. Growing vegetables can be tough on the soil as they are very greedy plants and take all the nutrients and minerals from it. This leaves the soil tired, used and almost useless for growing in. Soil improvers & enriching composts can be used to
combat this.

Here is our top 10 (13) list of the most interesting soil facts…


  •  There are more microorganisms in a handful of soil than there are people on earth
  • It takes 500 years to produce just under an inch of topsoil, this is the most productive layer of soil.
  • It greatly reduces flood risk by storing up to 9200 tonnes of water per acre. In total that’s about 0.01% of the Earth’s total water.
  • Soil is a living system
  • Soil acts as a filter for underground water, filtering out pollutants
  • Approximately 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions are stored in soil
  • It provides all the nutrients required for successful plant growth.
  • Soil consists of 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air & 5% organic matter
  • As already mentioned 50% is air and water, the other 50% is broken rock and decaying plants and animals
  • The amount of sand, clay and silt is what gives different soil types their various textures. Most soils are a mix of all three.
  • Soil has 6 layers called horizons O, A, E, B, C and R. Horizon O is the topsoil and R is bedrock.
  • Worms enrich topsoil by feeding on organic material in the soil and converting it into nutrients for plants. As they move through the soil it becomes more absorbent and better aerated too.
  • Soil is at the bottom of the food chain, yet it is the cornerstone of life on earth
  1. Faylinn

    I’ve never thought of soils being a living system before. I mean, I know that there are things that live in the ground. However, how exactly does soil live?

    1. admin

      Hi Faylinn. That’s a big question but here’s the gist of it: Soil is made up of a mix of finely ground rock and organic matter. Very finely ground rock results in a clay soil, less fine is sandy. The organic matter comes from rotted or rotting plant and animal material built up over 1000’s of years. When new organic matter is added (compost, manure, fallen leaves, dying vegetation etc…) it needs to be processed to break it down. Healthy soil is full of earthworms, insects, amoeba and bacteria amongst others who feed on the organic matter to process it. The waste products (Nitrogen being the most important) are the food plants need to grow. The soil is not a living organism in itself but contains millions of organisms in every square inch that work to break down organic matter. Excessive use of chemical fertilizers damage these organisms to the point that the soil is ‘dead’ and can’t support life. This is what we need to feed the soil, it is the corner stone of organic growing: feed all the beasties in the soil and the rest looks after itself. It is a process which has worked perfectly well for millions of years without any ‘help’ from us! I hope this makes sense. Thank you for your question.

  2. TJ Bakewell.

    Very interesting blog, I’m in the process of measuring up my lawn so I can get back into gardening for the summer. Im just using an online
    topsoil calculator to calculate how much I need. Last time I ordered far to much and ended up throwing lots of it away! Do you have any tips for this?

    1. admin

      HI TJ Bakewell. It sounds you are doing the right thing by using a soil calculator. Bear in mind that topsoil settles considerably so you might not have as much as you think in the long term. Are you using the soil to fill raised beds? If so I would tamp gently with a rake as you fill, you don’t want the soil too compacted but you will get it about right by raking each load flat and gently tamping with the flat side of the rake. I hope this helps. Andrew

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