22 May What is Organic Matter in Soil?
If you’re an organic gardener, you’re used to buying and using organic products for your garden. But what about the soil itself? What exactly is organic soil? Simply put, organic soil is derived from living matter — it’s naturally amended by the decomposition over time of plants and even animals.
Material like mulch, dropped leaves, manure, and natural compost all add to the nutrients in organic soil. Think of a forest bed with its rich soil that supports a wide variety of healthy plant life — that soil got that way over years of Mother Nature dropping leaves and bark, animals leaving manure, and decaying plant and animal life slowly breaking down.
The result is a naturally occurring, nutrient-rich organic soil that has an amazing offering of benefits for both plant life, the surrounding environment, and for humankind.
- Holds and retains water more efficiently than non-organic soil
- Is nutrient-rich
- Has a healthy soil texture
- Is resistant to soil pathogens that can harm plants
- Deters soil-borne pests
- Needs less (if any) additional fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides
- Produces naturally strong and healthy plants that are better able to ward off pests and diseases
Now, not many urban and suburban yards and gardens are similar to a forest, so we organic gardeners have to create a schedule of regularly adding organic materials to our soil in order to mimic Mother Nature. The best thing an organic gardener can do to achieve this is to start a compost pile. Throw in your yard waste and kitchen scraps, and add chicken droppings if you have a little urban farm. Toss in your lawn clippings rather than bag them, and include other materials like hay, straw, fallen leaves, and bark. Avoid adding diseased plants or weeds recently pulled from your garden, as these can spread pathogens and seeds into next year’s garden.
While it does take some time to turn your garden soil into organic, nutrient-rich material, the effort is worth it, and we know your plants will agree!
Tip: If you’ve previously used chemicals in your garden, or recently moved into a new house and are unsure of the gardening habits of the previous owner, read our article “5 Steps to Fixing Your Soil.”