7 Signs of Healthy Soil: A Guide for Compost Enthusiasts

If you’re a compost enthusiast, then you know that healthy soil is the foundation for a successful garden.

Healthy soil benefits your plants by providing nutrients and waterwhile also minimizing diseases and pests.

If you want to become a better composter, you need to start by understanding healthy soil.

To help you on this quest, I have created this guide to 7 signs of healthy soil.

Let’s explore what makes soil healthy so you can have the best garden possible.

Good Texture

Healthy soil has good texture that allows the roots of plants to move through easily. Texture relates to the size of particles in soil that affects water retention, drainage, and associated soil movement for plant growth.

Healthy soil appears dark in color, has a porous and crumbly structure, contains visible organic matter, a sweet and earthy aroma, and a texture similar to that of moist coffee grounds. This texture is also beneficial for gardening because it enables plants to breathe through their roots and access enough nutrients and water.

If you wish to test whether your soil has a healthy texture, take a handful of soil. If the soil sticks together in a ball, it is clay; it crumbles apart quickly, it is sandy, and loosely sticks together, it is silty soil. You can add organic matter such as compost to improve soil structure and texture. Furthermore, you can add other organic materials such as coconut coir, peat moss, and manure to improve your soil.

Making sure the soil in your garden has good texture is incredibly important. It can help improve crop yields, reduce erosion, and increase the soil’s water-holding capacity. Don’t forget to focus on this essential component when managing your soil!

Absence of Chemicals

Avoiding chemical contamination is essential to the health of your soil. Using chemical fertilizers or pesticides can cause serious damage to your plants and may even be harmful to your health if done improperly.

Fortunately, there are several ways to test soil for chemicals. The easiest method is to send a soil sample to a lab for testing. This will give you a comprehensive breakdown of any harmful chemicals in your soil and their concentrations.

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can use a soil test kit. These kits are widely available at garden centers and online retailers. They usually involve taking a soil sample, mixing it with a testing solution, and comparing the color of the solution to a chart to determine the presence of harmful chemicals.

If you find that your soil is contaminated with chemicals, there are several ways to remove them. One of the easiest methods is to simply let the soil rest for a few years and avoid using chemical fertilizers or pesticides. This will allow natural processes to break down the chemicals and restore the health of your soil.

Another option is to use soil amendments such as compost, manure, or organic fertilizers. These can help improve the health of your soil and promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms that can break down harmful chemicals.

In short, avoiding the use of chemicals and testing your soil for contamination are essential steps in promoting healthy soil for your garden.


One of the most important signs of healthy soil is its biodiversity. This refers to the number and variety of living organisms in the soil. Biodiversity is crucial for soil health because it helps to create a balanced ecosystem. Just like in any ecosystem, a balance between different organisms results in a healthy and sustained environment.

There are various organisms that live in healthy soil, including bacteria, fungi, earthworms, and insects. These organisms all perform different functions that help to maintain the health of the soil. For example, bacteria and fungi help to break down organic matter, while earthworms and insects move soil around and create passages that improve drainage.

In addition to breaking down organic matter, soil bacteria and fungi also decompose dead plant material and recycle nutrients back into the soil. This helps to maintain the nutrient balance in the soil and promote healthy plant growth. It is important to note here that not all bacteria and fungi are beneficial, and some can cause diseases in plants, so it is important to maintain a balance of organisms in the soil.

Earthworms are another important contributor to healthy soil. They burrow deep into the soil and create channels that allow water and air to penetrate deeper into the soil. This helps to improve soil structure and drainage, which in turn facilitates root growth and nutrient uptake.

Insects also play a role in soil health. For example, ants help to aerate the soil, while ground beetles can control pests and disease-causing organisms. However, it is important to note that not all insects are beneficial. Some are harmful to plants and can cause significant damage.

To promote biodiversity in your soil, you need to focus on creating a balanced environment that supports the right kinds of organisms. This can be achieved through practices such as crop rotation, intercropping, and avoiding the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. You should also avoid compacting your soil because this can reduce the number of organisms that can thrive in it.

Overall, biodiversity is an essential aspect of soil health, and compost enthusiasts should pay close attention to this sign of healthy soil to ensure that they produce nutrient-rich compost that supports healthy plant growth.


Do you want to grow healthy plants? The depth of your soil matters! If you want your plants to grow strong roots, you need to make sure that your soil is deep enough. Soil depth determines how deep the roots can grow and how much water and nutrients they can absorb.

If the soil is shallow, it can lead to stunted growth and less nutrients for your plants. A healthy soil depth should be around 12 inches deep. This way, the plants will have enough room to grow deep roots.

When planting your garden, make sure to dig deep enough so the roots can spread out. Plant roots can grow up to three times the height of the plant. So, if you have a 1-foot-tall plant, the roots can grow up to 3 feet deep into the soil.

By properly planting deep-seated crops like carrots, potatoes, and turnips, you ensure that they’ll get enough nutrients. If you plant these crops in shallow soil, they are going to grow in a crooked manner, and you’ll get poor yield.

Moreover, once the soil depth goes beyond 12 inches, it becomes leaner in nutrients. So do not invest in soil past 12 inches, and invest in quality soil up to 12 inches deep.

Another tip is to add layers of leaves and organic materials to your soil, so you get around 12-inches deep soil - they decompose over time and add nutrients to the soil. Ultimately, your soil isn’t just dirt. It’s also home to numerous creatures like insects, worms, and fungi that helps healthy plant growth. So investing some time and effort in maintaining healthy soil depth is worth it in the long run.


Proper moisture levels are crucial for healthy soil. Soil that is too wet or too dry can cause a lot of problems for your plants. The best way to test your soil’s moisture level is by taking a handful of soil and squeezing it.

If the soil falls apart easily, it is too dry, and you need to water it. On the other hand, if the soil stays clumped together, it is too wet, and you should wait a day or two before watering again. A well-moistened soil ball should be formed by the correct amount of water that is neither too wet nor too dry.

Another way to measure soil moisture is by using a moisture meter. Moisture meters are readily available at garden centers or online. They are a handy tool and can give an accurate measurement of how much moisture is in your soil.

It is important not to overwater your plants, which could lead to root rot and fungal infections. In general, most plants prefer soil that is moist but well-drained.

One common mistake that many gardeners and compost enthusiasts make is not paying attention to the moisture level of their soil. Maintaining the correct moisture level is a simple yet essential step to promote healthy soil and healthy plants.


To ensure healthy soil, it’s essential to maintain proper nutrient levels. Nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are essential for plant growth. However, it’s important to note that excessive nutrient levels can be just as detrimental as nutrient deficiencies. Too much nitrogen can cause plant leaves to yellow and decay, while too much phosphorus can lead to toxicity and stunt growth.

If you’re experiencing issues with plant growth or noticing nutrient deficiencies, it may be time to test your soil. Soil testing kits are inexpensive and readily available at most garden supply stores. These kits can help you determine which nutrients your soil is deficient in. Once you determine which nutrients your soil needs, you can take the appropriate steps to add them.

There are many different ways to add nutrients to your soil. For example, you could add organic compost or natural fertilizers like bone meal, seaweed, or blood meal. Another popular method is to plant nitrogen-fixing plants like beans or peas, which can help to add nitrogen to your soil.

Ultimately, the key to maintaining healthy nutrient levels in your soil is to test your soil regularly and be intentional with how you add nutrients. By doing so, you can create a healthy ecosystem that supports plant growth and maximizes your harvest.

pH Levels

Maintaining the proper pH level is one of the most important factors in developing healthy soil. As a compost enthusiast, you want to ensure that your soil has a pH level that is suitable for the plants you are growing.

If the pH level is too high or too low, plants may have difficulty absorbing nutrients from the soil, which can lead to stunted growth or even death. A pH level of 6.0 to 7.0 is generally considered ideal for most plants.

You can test your soil’s pH level using a soil test kit, which is available at most garden centers. These kits are easy to use and provide accurate results. Once you know the pH level of your soil, you can take steps to adjust it if necessary.

To raise the pH level of acidic soil (pH level below 6.0), you can add lime or wood ash. On the other hand, to lower the pH of alkaline soil (pH level above 7.0), you can add sulfur or aluminum sulfate.

Remember that adjusting pH levels can take time, so be patient and monitor the progress of your soil over time. By maintaining the proper pH level, you can promote healthy plant growth and a thriving garden.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, keeping your soil healthy is an essential part of being a successful compost enthusiast.

By following the seven signs of healthy soil outlined in this post, you can ensure that your plants, flowers, and vegetables grow strong and healthy.

I hope that this guide has been helpful to you on your journey to becoming a skilled composter.

My question for you is: Which of the seven signs of healthy soil are you most concerned about in your composting journey?

I’d love to hear from you!

Please send me a message and let me know.

If you found this post valuable, I hope you will consider sharing it on social media to help others who may be interested in composting.

Thanks for reading!

Author: Scott Sanders


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