CLAY Based-wet, sticky consistency with large clumps. Prevents sufficient air flow but has high nutrient levels.
SAND Based-Light granular texture. Allows good drainage and airflow but is low on nutrients.
LOAM Based-Considered ideal—Consists of 20% clay, 40% sand, and 40% silt. It should be of rich, dark color and light texture with just a hint of stickiness that allows it to hold nutrients. Adding organic medium adds nutrients to it.
http://www.umass.edu/plsoils/soiltest/ UMASS SOIL TESTING WEB SITE
Take a small amount of soil from the spot(s) you want to plant in and send it to them in small plastic bags.
SOIL IS VERY IMPORTANT
The best investment you can make in your garden is helping develop a healthy deep rich soil. Plants will do better and make maintenance much easier.
REMEMBER-soil is a community of organic and inorganic components, some are living, some are dead. Bacteria, fungus, worms all have important roles to play. By feeding your soil with the appropriate amendments- it will develop into something where plants thrive rather than just survive. Add lime to sweeten and mulch to feed it and put acid into the soil if it is too sweet.
DOUBLE DIGGING is recommended where you want to plant. Basically this means incorporating organic soil down to about 2'- A big job but remember it doesn't need to be done again. Double digging improves drainage - the number one reason why most perennials die is poor drainage. A good supply of earthworms keeps improving the drainage also.
FERTILIZING-a good soil has a good balance of plant nutrients due to their release from decaying organic matter. Well-composted manure or dehydrated cow manure is an excellent source of organic material. Also PH Plus (organic) to use instead of manure. I also use 5-10-5 on veggies, and 10-10-10 on perennials—super phosphate for bulbs and flowers and high nitrogen for grass. First no is up, second is down, third is all around. Nitrogen, phosphate, potassium
MULCHES- highly recommended- Hardwood double shredded bark mulch is my favorite- especially when used with dehydrated cow manure. It stops weeds, helps water conservation and adds organic matter to the soil. Be careful not to buy red “painted” mulch—not “real” mulch!
WATERING.- a soil, rich in organic matter, will absorb rainfall and hold it much longer than a poor soil. It will not allow the soil to become water logged. It allows air to penetrate as well as water!