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Gardening On the North Coast

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Soil Types
Soil Organics
Soil Differences
Soil Improvement
Improving Heavy Soil
Improving Light Soil
Inorganic Materials
Care and Maintenance
More Maintenance
Soil pH
Humus and Compost
Soil Mulches


This author of this article has built gardens in a gravel driveway of a rented house, on the side of a hill, in holes in a concrete patio and in containers. You can build a healthy garden also by following the directions on these pages.

The Differences Between Topsoil and Subsoil.

Topsoil is the surface portion of undisturbed soil. It may be only an inch or so deep on thin hilltop land, or several or many feet deep in the Eel River valley and coastal plains. It is usually a darker color than the deeper subsoil because of its higher organic content. Because of this relative organic richness, it is generally easier to handle than subsoil. It cultivates better, is less sticky or likely to cake. But with these advantages come some disadvantages, particularly the likelihood of weed seeds that accumulate in surface soil.

Subsoil is usually lighter in color, more sticky, less fertile and more difficult to handle. Typical are foundation diggings. Because such soil comes from a greater depth, it usually contains no weed seeds. For lawn making this advantage may be big and even outweigh the disadvantages. Subsoils are fairly easy to improve.