Soil Science ~ Junior Gardeners



Soil Test in a Glass Jar

Test your soil with this interesting scientific experiment!


  • 25-30 oz glass jar
  • Soil – see below
  • Ruler
  • Shovel
  • Measuring cup
  • Dish soap
  • Teaspoon


  1. First find a 25-30 oz glass jar with lid. Could be bigger but not smaller.
  2. Look for areas near your home with different types of vegetation. For example: near the beach and up a mountain (2 samples to compare).
  3. With the help of an adult, use a shovel to take out soil sample (at least 12” deep).
  4. Add 1 cup of soil + ½ tsp dish soap + 2 cups of water.
    • 1 part soil : 2 parts water
  5. Shake well until everything is mixed and let sit for 24 hours


After 24 hours check your experiment. As with any experiment, It is a good idea to take notes in your nature journal, of your procedures and findings.

  • Bottom layer will be sand.
  • Middle layer will be silt.
  • Top layer will be clay.
  • Organic matter will float to top.

Ask an adult to help you collect data on your experiment.

If you find equal parts of sand and silt with a small layer of clay…..YOU HAVE GOOD SOIL!

  • 40% sand + 40% silt +20% clay + floating organic matter = GOOD SOIL!!!!!
Sandy Soils Clay Soils
drain too quickly do not drain well
are unable to retain moisture or nutrients to feed your plant retain too much moisture and might drown plant
can be corrected by adding compost can be corrected by adding equal amounts of sand and compost

The pH Test:

Test your soil’s pH with a simple and FUN experiment. Don’t forget to always take notes in your nature journal.


  • tablespoon
  • glass of water
  • towel
  • vinegar
  • baking soda


  1. Grab a spoonful of dry soil and add a few drops of vinegar.
    • If it fizzes you have alkaline soil (>7.5)
  1. Clean spoon and grab new spoonful of soil, add a few drops of water and sprinkle some baking soda.
    • if it fizzes your soil is acidic (<5)

Always remember junior gardeners, the best ways to maintain happy balanced soil is to add 2-3 inches of compost on top of your garden as a mulch. It is cheap, retains moisture, attracts earthworms (that tickle roots) and keeps plants fed.


  • soil – a complex mixture of minerals, water, air, organic matter, and countless organisms that are the decaying remains of once-living things. It forms at the surface of land – it is the “skin of the earth.” Soil is capable of supporting plant life and is vital to life on earth.
  • sand – tiny, loose grains of ground rock, found on beaches and in deserts
  • clay – a heavy, sticky material from the earth that is made into different shapes and that becomes hard when it is baked or dried
  • silt – fine particles of earth, clay or sand that eventually settle out of water
  • organic matter – matter composed of organic compounds that has come from the remains of organisms such as plants and animals and their waste products in the environment.
  • sample – a small quantity of something
  • compost – Most gardens thrive with the help of a compost This rotted, homemade mixture of organic matter is often called synthetic manure. Compost supplies plants with food and improves soil structure.
  • nature journal – where you can keep a record of observations and experiment procedures
  • pH – is a measure of how acidic or basic the substance is. Measured on a scale from 0 to 14, pH is based on the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution
  • alkaline – having a pH above 7
  • acid – having a pH less than 7
  • junior gardener – you


sourced from Life Lab, Wikipedia and

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