A simple test for soil moisture

sniff the soilOne of my most oft asked questions is “How much should I water?” The amount of water required in your garden is unique to your soil and your climate, so it’s a question I cannot possibly answer.

You, however, can answer it yourself by doing this quick and easy test before you water. No kit required – just your hand and eye and heart.

The right amount of moisture

To grow great vegetables and fruits you need to keep your soil barely moist.

Maintain perfectly moist soil and you’ll notice a lift in plant happiness and productivity and a lessening of pests (too dry), and disease (too wet). When you chill out on the watering flavour deepens too – best tomatoes, squash, rockmelon and basil!

Soil that’s too wet is as troublesome as soil that’s too dry because neither of these environments are beloved by soil life, and without soil life nutrient exchange is sloppy, immunity is poor and troubles run riot.

Restoring soil back to good health after its gotten soggy or dry is a big mission. You’ll only do it once! Its worth it to look after your soil little and often.

Though this test is simple as, I consider it a key gardening skill.

Here’s how:

Grab a handful of soil and squeeze it in your fist.

test for moisture

As you open your hand back out give it a wee shake.

If it’s too dry, none of it will stick together and it will fall away to a pile of dry crumbs. It may also smell musty or have slaters running about in it.

too dry

This soil is too dry for vegies

If it’s got good moisture levels most of it will remain in loose clumps with a small amount of crumb fallen away. It should smell nice and earthy.

just right

Moisture levels – just right!

If its too wet, you’ll be able to fashion a simple bowl with it and it will likely smell a bit ammonia -y.

Staying in touch with your soil is the single best thing you can do for your food garden. And your soul.



  1. Rachel Herriott says

    Fantastic information. Thank you. I’m heading out now to check mine 👍🏼