Organic Matter Matters

Jr. Batty  |  1/13/2011 4:05:55 AM

photo of compost pile

the before and after effects of composting

Organic matter may be the most important part of your soil. Most soil in St. Tammany Parish has lots of clay, red or gray. Many soils here are less than 3 inches deep. Additionally, soil can be compacted, too wet, too dry, and lacking in nutrition. A giant step in soil improvement would be to add organic matter. Rotted leaves, decayed grass clippings or any combination of compost is great for your garden.

Consider these benefits of adding organic matter to your growing area:

Organic matter improves tilth. Soil that is high in organic matter is easy to work. The soil is “fluffy” or pliable.

Organic matter improves water holding capacity. The organic matter in soil acts like a sponge. It absorbs large amounts of water, dries on the surface quickly, but holds water on the inside longer. These soils help plants survive better in dry weather.

Organic matter aids in aeration. Soils high in organic matter allow air to move freely through the soil. The root ends' tiny root hairs can stretch through this porous space for better nutrient uptake and improves the plants stability.

Organic matter regulates soil temperatures. Cooler soil temperature in the hot summer months and warmer soil temperatures in deep winter are provided by the organic matter insulation ability.

Organic matter adds helpful bacteria and fungi to the soil. Fungi and bacteria help to break down large particles into smaller particles for improved plant nutrition in overall health.

Any decomposed plant residue is an excellent source of or-ganic matter. Peat moss for pot plants or small beds is ideal. Leave your leaf and grass clippings for more organic matter in lawns. Consistently add to your vegetable garden composted food scraps, like egg shell, coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable waste.

Improved soils will provide improved gardens and landscapes. Using organic matter really matters.

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