What exactly is organic matter?
Sometimes you can hear all these gardening terms bandied around, but not really be sure what they mean. And quite often people don’t like to ask, in fear of looking silly.
All gardening questions are good gardening questions I say.
- Organic matter is basically anything that was once living. And anything that was once living can be turned into compost, this is the most readily achieved organic matter to the home gardener.
- Organic matter is easily added to the garden in the form of compost, manures, mushroom compost, worm castings, lucerne, sugarcane, leaf litter and the list goes on.
The Benefits of Organic Matter in the Soil.
- Increased soil microbial activity and numbers - symbiotic relationships
- Soil health
- Nutrient uptake in plants
- Better soil profile water retention
- Plant ability to cope better with temperature flucuations
- Insect and disease resistance in plant life
- Beneficial fungi levels are increased
Compost is not mulch
Compost and animal manures are not the same as mulches such as lucerne or sugarcane.
Compost and animal manures should be dug into and through the soil profile to weave their organic goodness where the plant roots are situated.
Whereas mulch is what you should place on top of the soil after planting. Mulch acts like a protective blanket.
This article originally appears in our Summer Edition of Better Earth Secrets for members of our Better Earth Program.