Organic matter is very important to the soil, to plant life, and to the environment. The process of improving organic matter is a slow one, and definitely a process to work on. Hence, it is always a good idea to consult an affordable lawn care service to help you do that.
Preparing your garden soil for planting is the first step to being ready for gardening season. This means including organic matter into your soil before sowing the first seed or transplanting the first seedling. Without the right organic nutrients in the ground, your plants will not reach their potential. Compost, well-rotted manure, and other forms of organic matter can improve any type of soil.
Around 90 percent of soil is composed of minuscule rocks and minerals. Most soils are made of a mix of sand, silt and clay. Sandy soil is made up of large soil particles. Clay soil is made up of small particles. Silt falls somewhere in between. Around 10 or more textural classes of soil include loam, sandy clay, and silty clay – a balance of fine clay, medium-size silt, and coarse sand.
The remaining 10 percent of soil is made of organic matter, which has everything to do with how well the soil nurtures plant growth also known as soil fertility. It’s the continual decomposition of organic matter that creates humus and releases plant nutrients. Putting a welcome mat can boost your soil’s fertility for soil organisms to thrive.
50 percent of the volume of good soil is made up of pores, which are spaces between particles that permit air and water to penetrate.
What Is Organic Matter?
Organic matter is anything that was once alive. This means dead leaves and faded leaves are organic matters. When living things die and biodegrade, microorganisms break down the once-living matter into simpler compounds—first into humus, then humic acid, and eventually into basic elements. This process is called mineralization.
Organic Matter Examples and Benefits
To get organic matter, you can look for green manure, composted materials (purchased or DIY), saw dust, peat moss, shredded tree leaves, well-rotted animal manure, grass clippings, dead bodies of insects and microorganisms, and vegetable waste.
However, these are what you should not include: grass clippings treated with noxious chemicals, diseased plants; pet feces, and bones and scraps of meat. Tilling organic matter into the soil’s top several inches or mulching it with multiple types of organic matter can increase your soil’s organic content by 5 to 6% Make sure you add organic matter an annual activity to keep your garden soil healthy and humus-rich.
Healthy soil holds water without getting soggy and allows air to penetrate to plant roots and soil organisms. The soil’s organic matter provides surfaces where nutrients can be held in reserve, which helps supply nutrients for plants over the long term.
Healthy soil filled with organic matter increases the presence and activity of beneficial microorganisms and macroorganisms, such as earthworms. Many microorganisms work to break down organic matter, releasing nutrients into the soil. Some beneficial microorganisms in the soil also attack plant diseases, helping your garden stay healthier.
How Organic Matter Helps Sandy Soil
As stated earlier, sandy soil is made up of large soil particles that fit together loosely, and without sticking. Water runs through such soil quickly, drying it out faster. Those large particles also make it harder for the soil to hold nutrients to nurture plants.
Organic matter helps sandy soils by acting like a sponge, which allows the soil to hold moisture during times of drought, and make nutrients available for a longer period before they leach out of the soil. Organic matter can help make some nutrients more available to your plants. As it breaks down, organic matter reduces erosion by helping the soil hold together better.
How Organic Matter Helps Clay Soil
Loaded with nutrients, clay soil is made of very small particles that hold together tightly. As a result, there’s much less air space in the ground for plant roots than what you find in sandy soil. This dense soil structure doesn’t usually drain very well.
Organic matter also helps push apart those tiny clay particles, which creates more air space. Water drains more freely and plant roots grow more readily. Organic matter keeps little clay bits from sticking together, which makes soil stay lighter and looser.