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What is Soil

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Soil is an incredibly complex, biologically and chemically active substance. While we often tend to think of it as "just dirt"—inert, lifeless stuff—soil is literally alive! It is estimated that there are more microbes in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on earth.

Roughly speaking, soil is made up of minerals, air, water, and organic matter. The majority of soil is made up of rocks that have been pulverized over time into either sand, silt, or clay. This mineral portion of soil can vary with different percentages of these three components.

In general here in New York City, the soil in Brooklyn and Queens tends to be sandy in the south, moving to more clay in the northern section of the boroughs. Staten Island soils are sandy about a mile in from the shore, at which point they exhibit a very high clay content. It is important to know your soil's components in order to adjust the pH or add appropriate nutrients.

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