Loam soil is the holy grail of gardening. It's easy to dig, stays moist without being poorly drained and has good amounts of nutrients. Added fertilisers are held in the soil and are easily accessed by plants. Loams have a mix of sand, clay, silt and organic matter. Most plants grow in loam, and it's particularly well-suited to growing productive plants such as vegetables.

If you're unsure about whether your soil is loam or not, there is a simple soil test you can do using a sample of soil from your garden. Click to find out how to do the one-step soil type test.

As a quick guide, a handful of moist loam can be squeezed to form a loose ball. When it's rolled into a sausage shape, it will form the shape but it will break or crack as the sausage is bent. Loams are usually dark in colour and crumbly in texture.

Most garden soils that are worked and improved with organic matter over time gradually become loamy in texture. If the loam soil began life as sandy, it may be a sandy loam that needs regular additions of organic matter to maintain its good loam qualities. If the loamy soil began life as clay, it may have underlying clay subsoil. If this is the case, avoid digging into the subsoil by creating raised planting beds.