Difference Between Dirt And Soil

Dirt and soil the same thing? Think again!



Here’s a run-down on the differences between dirt and soil to clarify the general confusion about both being the same thing. After reading this, you should also have a better understanding of why your plants stopped blooming or why your veggie garden is not bearing fruits!


5 Major Differences Between Dirt & Soil


1. Composition


Dirt is composed of silt, sand, rock particles, & clay. It is described as “displaced soil” by America’s Soil Science Society. Simply put, dirt is something that sticks to your clothes/shoes, or is something that gets on your hands or under your fingernails while gardening!


On the other hand, the soil is a slim grainy layer that has become compacted over a long time to form the Earth’s surface. It is generally composed of broken stones, decaying plants & other living organisms, water, minerals, air, organic materials, and many other elements.


So while soil did start as dirt, its composition has living & non-living decomposing particles. To get specific, as soil erodes, the fragments that are not “connected” with the soil anymore are considered dirt.


2. Dead or Alive?


Dirt is dead. It does not contain any living organisms, be it fungi, bacteria, worms or microbes. Furthermore, dirt is void of any type of humus or topsoil.


Meanwhile, soil is alive. It is a self-contained ecological system where countless living organisms interact constantly. Soil consists of organic matter, fungi, worms, bacteria, microbes, and various other living organisms. All of these different things create the party that plants love.


3. Nutrients: It’s What Plants Crave


Dirt does not contain any kind of nutrients which is why it is unable to support any kind of living organism. It’s like a house devoid of life.


In contrast, the soil consists of several nutrients and minerals such as Potassium, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Sulfur, Calcium, Iron, & Magnesium. Soil also contains humus, which is an organic matter formed by decomposition. All the party guests are present to get this one going!


4. Texture & Structure


Textually, dirt may be grainy or sticky but it does not have any structure. It can be tested by sprinkling some water in a pile of dirt. You’ll notice that even though moist, dirt doesn’t compact nicely enough to hold a structure.


Alternately, the soil has both texture as well as structure. Soil can be categorized into 3 main textures- sandy (completely coarse), loamy (moderately coarse), and clay (sticky when wet and hard when dry). If tested, a handful of soil clumps together into a loose ball-like structure, irrespective of water sprinkling.


5. Gardening Possibilities


Due to the absence of nutrients (no party guests) in its ecosystem, no plants can be grown in dirt.


Comparatively, soil comprises all the qualities necessary for plant growth. The presence of essential nutrients, minerals, humus, air, organic matter, microbes, and capacity to drain water makes the soil a key component for growing all kinds of plants, shrubs, & trees.


Soil is a comprehensive self-sustaining ecosystem suitable for gardening. Soil containing earthworms are considered extremely fertile to cultivate flowering plants, fruit trees, or vegetable crops. Healthy soil is vital for yielding healthy plants & crops which thereby produce nourishing foods, maintain a healthy ecosystem, and aid in maintaining a healthy body.


Soil quality and produce vary wildly per region. For instance, Ojai, California has about 60-inches of well-drained deep soil in some areas, but also contains large amounts of clay soil. Clay soil is nutrient dense but does not drain well. A wide range of veggies, herbs, & fruits such as apples, pears, walnuts, stone fruits, olives, pomegranates, lemons, oranges, avocados, tomatoes, and peppers can be grown in Ojai.


To conclude, dirt isn’t completely useless! In fact, it is quite easy to convert dirt into a nutrient-rich soil. Simply mix dirt with compost and let the organic substances in the soil multiple into the eco-system of the dirt!


Check out the Alpaca Tea bags to supplement your soil today!

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