Organic Matter – What is it?

Image of rotten apples - organic matter

We’ll be talking about organic matter a lot on this site. Without organic matter, you don’t have the ingredients to create and restore your soil.

So, what is organic matter? Organic matter is any material, plant or animal origins, that has been left to decay and rot in the soil.

Nature’s process is simple.

  • Leaves fall from the trees in autumn and are left on the ground.
  • Fall rain, winter snowfalls and spring showers cause the leaves to breakdown into smaller pieces.
  • Worms and insects feed on the water tenderized leaves and produce humus.

I learned from reading Alva Agee’s book Crops And Methods For Soil Improvement that weeds and brush are nature’s way of replenishing the organic matter in the soil that has been robbed of its nutrients. I knew the importance of adding organic material to improve the soil but I did not realize the importance that weeds and brush actually have in restoring the balance of nutrients to make soil healthy.

The organic matter makes the growing environment friendly to the good bacteria that results in the green healthy plants that you want in your garden. This stuff, organic matter, makes it possible for the soil to hold the rain water and nutrients for the plant.

Some of the ways to quickly introduce organic matter into your garden are –

  • As the leaves fall off the tree, gather them into three foot high by three foot wide heaps. Water well and allow the leaves to rot over the winter. If you turn and water the pile on a weekly basis, you will accelerate the rotting process and you’ll have compost to add to your gardens in the spring time.
  • An alternative to the above labor intensive method is to vacuum your leaves and put them directly into your garden beds as mulch.

Regardless of which method you choose, you can start today to restore the soil in your garden.