This is interesting advice from a book written in 1935, "Five Acres And Independence" by M.G. Kains, B.S.,M.S., on how to tell if your soil is poor or healthy just by looking at what trees and weeds grow on it.
"Beech, sugar maple, hickory, black walnut and white oak trees of large size and positive thriftiness indicate rich land; white pine, scrub oak and scrawny trees of most species are typical of poor land; extra thrifty willows, poplars and alder and elder bushes suggest too much water and probable need of drainage.
Weeds however, are more often telltales than are trees and bushes because they follow cultivation, whereas large trees precede it. It is not necessary to identify species, although this is desirable. What does count is the character of growth made by the weeds actually present. Lush, sturdy very dark green, leafy growths indicate that the plants are well-fed, especially with nitrogenous compounds, but if the growth is pale, sickly colored, scrawny and apparently eking out a miserable existence the land is certainly not rich."
He continues by saying,
"Ox-eye daisy, wild carrot and mullein in abundance and poorly developed indicate lack of humus as well as fertility and prove that the land has been badly mismanaged, for these plants cannot stand neither rich soil or rational tillage."
For me, this was both interesting and disappointing.
Guess what's in the backyard where I want to grow?
Mullein, scrubby trees, pale stringy weeds and moss.
I have a lot of work ahead of me.