Hubble, bubble, toil and soil

Now, looking into the science of soil may not have mass appeal, but I have been eager to learn more about this area of horticulture for some time. Not least because I have a fantasy of being in the ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ audience, asking an incredibly pertinent, intelligent question about a plant problem (it is mandatory to describe the soil type), yet having the panel chortling at the wittiness of it – like I said, it is a fantasy.

This burning desire to understand the difference between a loamy sand and a sandy loam revealed itself in a semi-disastrous bread-making episode before Christmas. I’m not really familiar with the vocabulary of baking, but I am furnished with the words ‘crumb’ and ‘compaction’. The bread seemed to have the properties more likely associated with a combination of Bagshot sand and clay on which it had been raining for four days with a tractor parked on it(probably a Massey Ferguson MF 8480). The structure was disappointing, with few air spaces making it very dense. Fortunately it was the festive period, so after plying the family with a few sherries and disguising the sunflower loaded slices of wholemeal slates with layers of cheese and chutney, they dutifully ate it. Continue reading