Did you know that dirt and soil are not the same thing? Dirt can be found when you clean under your fingernails while soil is what you stand on. Soil is found on Earth’s surface and is a thin land covering. It does not extend very far down into the ground. Soils can be found in a variety of colors including yellow, black, white, red, gray and brown. Different soils also vary in texture, mineral content and structure (along with colors) which are considered “soil properties.” Good soil is essential in the process of growing beautiful, healthy plants and flowers.

Formation

Weather plays a part in the formation of soil. Rocks can become smaller when the weather is cold or larger when the weather is hot. When these changes occur often the rock begins to crack and break apart creating smaller pieces. These smaller pieces continue to break into even smaller pieces. The very tiniest of pieces become soil. Limbs of trees, dead leaves and dead bugs are all examples of other things that also help to create soil. They are considered the parent material of soil. Basically there are four components of soil: organic matter, soil water, mineral matter and soil air. Soil is very porous and these pores hold the water and air. Soil is broken into several different horizontal layers or “horizons.” The very top layer is the O horizon which is only about one inch thick. It is comprised of dead things that break down and keep soil healthy. The A horizon is the next layer down. It is the topsoil which is alive with things such as roots, microorganisms (such as fungi and bacteria) and creatures (such as worms). As you proceed further down you next find Horizon B. This is a difficult layer for animals and plants to get through because it is very hard. The final soil layer is the C horizon which consists of less living things things than horizons O, A and B. The parent material of the C horizon comes from soil and rock that was formed from all the layers above it.