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What is Organic Matter and What Does it Do For My Garden Soil?

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Definition:
  • Organic Matter or Organic Material

    To a gardener, organic matter is something with organic compounds that you add to the soil as an amendment. In simple terms, it is decaying plant or animal material, most commonly: compost, green manure and animal manure.

    Organic matter contains acids that can make plant roots more permeable, improving their uptake of water and nutrients, and can dissolve minerals within the soil, leaving them available for plant roots. It also helps make a good environment for all the soil microbes and organisms that work with and enhance a plant's health and growth. And organic matter can improve the texture of all types of soils, from gritty sand to heavy clay.

    Organic matter does so many wonderful things for a garden, it’s just silly not to take advantage of it. There would be no organic gardening without organic matter.

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  • Examples:

    Organic matter added to garden soil improves the soil structure and feeds the microorganisms and insects. The more beneficial microorganisms your soil can support, the less bad organisms will survive. The good guys feed on harmful microbes like nematodes and certain soil born diseases. They also release their nutrients into the soil when they die. So the more beneficial microorganisms that are in the soil, the more nutrients will be in the soil. And many types of organic matter add still more soil nutrients to the mix.

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