We planned on using some of the dirt from our pool excavation to fill our garden beds. But first, we needed to figure out exactly what we had, and determine what we would have to add to it to make it good growing soil.
We learned a net trick from our local botanical gardens. Taking a scoop of dirt in a jar, then filling with water, we shook it violently until all the dirt has broken up and was well distributed in the water. Then we set it upright and let it settle. How the dirt settles indicates the percentage of sand, silt, and clay.
The lines are a little hard to discern, but based on the rate at which things settled, I think the above does a pretty good job of showing the percentages of each, about 25% sand, 65% silt, and 10% clay. All-in-all soil is pretty good.
However, and importantly, it isn’t top soil, meaning, it is effectively dead soil with little to no microbes that are necessary for the healthy breakdown of nutrients necessary for plants to grow. To make our soil active, we plan on mixing it with about 50% organic mulch.