earth /soil /ground/ land

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J.F. de TROYES

Senior Member
francais-France
When it's a matter of farming or gardening are all of these words adequate ? What's the best: "I busy myself gardening, working and improving the soil or the earth or the ground or the land " ? Is there any difference of meaning ?
 
  • maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    I would suggest that "the land" is what you own - the geographic entity.
    Improving the "land" would imply major work such as draining it or clearing huge boulders.
    Improving the "ground" would imply clearing it of large rocks and levelling it.
    Improving the "soil" would imply adding fertilisers and feeds, growing/rotating the crops so as not to deplete it of minerals and mulching plants.
    I'm not sure that the word 'earth' has much currency in gardening circles.
     

    MissFit

    Senior Member
    I would use improving the soil in a gardening or farming context, if you mean that you are augmenting the soil in order to make the plants/crops grow better. You could also say improving the land if you mean that you are building barns on it, draining swampy areas, adding access roads, or other things to make your land more valuable. Earth could be substituted for soil, but it's usually used in a more poetic context, for example: I love to feel the cool earth under my bare feet when I work in my garden.

    Dirt is what you wash off of your car or wipe off of your shoes, not what you grow plants in--and not something that can be improved. However, dirt is commonly used by non-gardeners to describe what is in a garden or flower pot.
     

    french4beth

    Senior Member
    US-English
    I found this definition of "earth" here (but this is very specific):
    the softer, friable part of land; soil, especially productive soil; the loose soft material that makes up a large part of the land surface; "they dug into the earth outside the church"
    And from Merriam Webster:
    [quote] the fragmental material composing part of the surface of the globe; especially : cultivable soil[/quote]
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    I would use improving the soil in a gardening or farming context, if you mean that you are augmenting the soil in order to make the plants/crops grow better. [...]

    Dirt is what you wash off of your car or wipe off of your shoes, not what you grow plants in--and not something that can be improved. However, dirt is commonly used by non-gardeners to describe what is in a garden or flower pot.
    Would soil also be used in the following context:
    I'm going to replant the anemones today, will you buy me a sack of soil on your way back?
    Would dirt work too?

    Tom
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Would soil also be used in the following context:
    I'm going to replant the anemones today, will you buy me a sack of soil on your way back?
    Would dirt work too?
    For some reason that I can't explain, I would expect that to be a bag of soil, not a sack, and the stuff that MrsP gets me to buy for this purpose is called compost, not soil. I suspect that allows the garden centre to charge a great deal more for it.

    Dirt would not work in this context, although the stuff we grow things in is sometimes called dirt.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Interesting, I have always understood compost to be dacaying matter, composed of vegetation, made to fertilise soil, which in turn would be different from and more expensive than plain soil.
    What do call what I have just described then? Or could it be the terminology adapted for marketing purposes which has crept into common usage and now encompasses both meanings?
     

    out2lnch

    Senior Member
    English-Canada
    There may be some difference with BE, but here 'compost' is, well, composted material. You can also buy a bag of manure that has preferably, but not necessarily, been composted. You can also buy a bag of topsoil, that usually contains composted material, but other stuff as well (peat moss, sand etc. but I'm not sure there is a set composition). There is also potting soil.

    If you said to me to pick up a bag (not sack) of soil, I might ask if you want topsoil, potting soil, compost, manure (cow, sheep, chicken...?) Or I might just go buy you a bag of dirt :)
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Moderator note:

    I have appended the last two posts to an existing thread on the subject. I found this thread by entering soil earth into the Wordreference Dictionary Look-up box at the top of this page.
     
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