If you own a home, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten into gardening. Out of the almost 165 million homeowners in the US, almost half of them got down and dirty in their backyard.
Whether you’re just starting out or have a great green thumb, there’s always something new to learn about growing your own plants and vegetables.
One thing you should know about? Organic matter.
There are many benefits to using it in your garden. We’re going to talk about what it is and why is organic matter important in soil — follow along!
What Is Organic Matter?
First, let’s define organic matter. When it comes to growing plants, the organic soil definition is matter that comes from living things.
Examples of organic soil improvers are fertilizers, manure, and compost. Using these, your garden will grow without the aid of chemicals or harsh additives.
Ultimately, you’ll grow better, more nutritious fruits and veggies. Let’s find out what it does to your garden and how you can use this technique!
Organic material improves the structure and texture of garden soil. It’s especially useful if you live somewhere with sand or heavy clay.
There are two issues with the worst type of soil: too little water retention and no drainage. Adding organic material to your garden helps break up heavy clay to allow drainage and improves sandy soil’s ability to keep water where your plants need it, at the roots.
By adding organic matter to the soil, you’re improving your garden’s natural ecosystem. Both microorganisms and insects thrive when your garden has added organic material.
Insects are often considered detrimental to plant health. Attracting the right ones by having a healthy, organic garden are actually beneficial.
Beneficial microorganisms are another key to a green garden. They help keep harmful soil-born diseases and things like nematodes at bay.
What to Use for Organic Soil
You’ve got a few options when it comes to choosing organic material in the soil. Here are a few to consider:
Animal Manure: Using manure improves your soil’s nitrogen level although there might be hayseeds or bedding hay that might decrease its efficiency.
Sawdust: Sawdust aerates your soil and eventually breaks down into nutrient-rich humus, but you’ll have to add in nitrogen.
Compost: This is probably your best bet for organic matter for your soil. You can even make it yourself — over two million tons of it are made each year by homeowners just like you!
Now that you know what to use, let’s learn how to use it.
Adding Organic Matter to Soil
If it’s your first time adding organic matter to soil or your ground is full of sand or clay, you’ll have to add more than usual. You’ll want to add about two inches in this case.
Have fertile soil? A one-inch deep covering will do.
Once you’ve got your covering laid down, you’ll need to work it into the ground. Use a shovel, rototiller, or iron fork to get it at least six inches down.
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Compost is often referred to as “black gold” by farmers. It is rich in organic matters which are easy to absorb and essential for the plants. But people often don’t want to make it since they think that building their compost bin is tiring.
If that is what you are having in your mind, this post will change it. I am going to show you how to make compost right at home in detailed steps. Thus, by the end of it, you can create your own fertile compost at home (or at least have a few basic knowledge about it).
The first thing you want to do is finding the right spot for your compost bin. It must be an open area with lots of sunshine and fresh air. The heat will help promotes the bacterial activities, thus speeding up the decomposition.
You can place it in anywhere in your garden, just make sure the compost has direct contact with the ground. This will help drive away the excessive moist that build up from the process. And keep the bin in proper condition.
Also, isolate the surrounding area and make sure there are no weeds or vines next to it. They will try to steal your compost nutrient. When you have had a certain place in mind, it’s time to move to the next step.
Well, there are many options for your compost bin. For the most simple one, you can go for a plastic bin. You can use an old used trash container or purchase a new one. This option is cheaper and works quite well. But the sealed plastic container also prevent the air from escape which eventually causes awful smells.
Another option is to make a wooden pallet bin. It’s strong, sturdy, and ventilated. But both building one or buying one does require a fair amount of money. So if you’re just starting on this, you might not want to invest too much money. So my advice is to go for a chicken wire fence. Use a 50×100 inches rectangle chicken wire and roll it into a cylinder container (of course, roll it horizontally).
Then fix the two ends with metal wire to make sure they will not fall apart. Sometimes people can combine pallet with chicken wire, but I don’t think that is necessary since the chicken wire is more than enough. Unless you are going to make a lot of compost, a normal poultry netting is good for you.
This is one of the biggest benefits of gardening and composting in particular. Other than having your own source of fertile nutrient that is great for the soil, you can reduce the amount of kitchen waste your family produces every day by using them as compost materials. If you have potato, carrot, or banana peels, don’t just dump them right away in your trash can. Use them to promotes the organic nutrients in your compost.
There are many things you can add to enrich your compost pile, but first, you will need to make one first. And the most simple ingredient for you to start making compost bin is the “green” and the “browns” stuff. For the green stuff, it could be your new peels of potatoes or trimmed vegetable wastes. It must be fresh and juicy. And the brown stuff could be the dried leaves, straw, or branches which you found in your garden. For most of the time, coffee grounds are also great for composting.
Here are a few common materials, you can find them in almost anywhere. But remember to break them into small pieces (by mincing or chopping). This will maximize the contact surface which speeds up the process.
For nitrogen: Manure is the most simple source of nitrogen. Back in the old days, they even use human feces for it. But not many use it today since it is both disgusting and not entirely good for the compost. The reason is that the human digest a wide variety of food which might be hard to decompose. You should only use herbivores wastes since they’re easy to break off and consume by microbes. Other ingredients which also have a great amount of nitrogen are coffee grounds, used tea filter, and vegetables.
For phosphorus: Dry leaves, which was placed in the beginning is a great source of phosphorus as well as nitrogen. And as mentioned, manure is also used for adding phosphorus to your compost pile. Grass clipping is also great for your compost. It has a fair amount of phosphorus, carbon, and nitrogen. But don’t use those which has received chemicals products (through spreading herbicide). It’s not good for growing organic products.
For potassium: Orange and banana peel are what I often use for compost. They are easy to find and will do great on your compost pile.
Others minerals: For magnesium and sulfur, I always use Epsom salt. You can find it almost everywhere in your local stores. Moreover, you can mince eggshells for additional calcium, but don’t do it in the beginning stages of composting since it will take a while for the microbes to affect them.
First, start by preparing the ingredients and the bin. Mix the brown with the green in 3:1 ratio. Make sure you pour half of the brown in first then top it with the green. Cover it with the rest of the leaves and branches. It will slowly build up heat inside which enable bacterial to decompose organic matters.
Cover the bin with cotton sheets. Don’t use plastic because they’ll seal the air inside which will result in extreme heat and “funny” smells. Keep checking on it and turn the compost after every 24-48 hours depending on the outside condition. If it is hot, the process will happen quicker than when being in average temperature.
The reason why you need to turn is that the center of the pile will get hotter, thus become more decayed. Turning will help distribute the compost evenly again. It will also speed up the decomposing process.
You can use compost to mix on the soil to increase its nutrition. Doing this will also improve the soil texture by increase the drainage and breathability.
Or sometimes you can just plant your vegetable directly on the compost itself. But it is not recommended. Not because that it isn’t good for the plant, but because that it would be such a waste of that precious material.
Did you ever bought a set of tools only to realize that you didn’t need half of it?
Spending money on tools you don’t need really sucks, especially when you have them all the time in front of you just hanging down from the shelf.
For that reason we always ask that question before we buy “Do I really need it?”.
Nowadays, there are lots of gardening tools with different shapes, sizes and names which can be overwhelming for a beginner gardener to choose from.
For this reason, I made a list of the top essential 7 hand tools to give you an idea about the tools you might need for gardening.
Fishtail Cape Cod
From my point of view, knowing the benefits of what I’m doing keeps me more motivated.
That’s why I wrote this article, so it will be a source of motivation if gardening gets a little tough.
Organic gardening has a lot of benefits which impact a lot of aspects of our life.
When I was doing research for this article, my mind was blown away because what I found.
Yes! they are only 9 benefits impact 3 different areas of our life, but they have a very huge impact.
Just let me show you.
According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency or EPA, pest control chemicals or -pesticides- linked to a big number of health related problems.
Some of them has negative affect on the nervous system, while others cause skin or eyes irritation.
In your garden you won’t use and pesticides for pest control. Instead, you will you use natural methods, which protect your health from any traces of chemicals.
Fact: Do you know? Some traces of pesticides can be found in non-organic vegetables or fruits even after washing them.
In a research about the quality of organic VS conventional fruits, vegetables and grains, It is highlighted that organics has higher percentage of some nutrients like vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus.
More Physical Activity
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, mentioned on its website that gardening can provide the 2.5 hours per week of moderate physical activity.
These required 2.5 hours per week will make you less likely to be obese or have:
- Have high blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Colon cancer
- Premature death
All that benefits for just being active in your garden for almost 22 minutes per day = 2.5 hours per week.
For even more benefits, NHS website advises people to expose their skin, hands or forearms for example, to sunlight without sunscreen.
Especially From late March or early April to the end of September during the hours from 11 am to 3 pm. That exposure encourages the skin to produce vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones.
They are not sure how long you should stay under sunlight, one thing for sure is to know your limits and protect yourself for over exposure under sunlight.
The beauty of having a garden is you won’t have to buy vegetables from your grocery store anymore.
In worth cases, you would have to buy the minimum amount or buy what you don’t grow.
Your garden will provide you with free, fresh food pretty much any time you need and your food budget will be cut in half.
To save money even more there are some tips you need to consider:
Go for the vegetables you regularly eat, especially expensive ones.
- Buy only the tools you really need
Some of the tools you will be using can be replaced by D.I.Y ideas. For example you can grow indoors using yogurt cups or plastic bottles instead of buying containers.
Good Teaching Tool For Kids
When gardening became a teaching tool in schools the following impacts noticed on students:
- Improve self-esteem and attitudes toward school
- Improve social skills and behavior
- Increase interest in eating fruits and vegetables and improve attitude toward fruits and vegetables. I know every parent will love to know that.
- Improve life skills, including working with groups and self-understanding
- Increase self-esteem
And the list of benefits goes on.
Gardening brings people together everywhere. As you start gardening for the first time you will need any help you can get.
That my dear friend will help you connect more with other people.
For instance, there are online gardening communities where you can visit to ask for advice and talk with other gardeners like you.
Also, you can go to a gardening events near you to see more people and share gardening knowledge with them.
The best part is you can give your neighbors some of the food you are growing as a token of friendship. They will appreciate and they may even gift you back. 😀
For The Environment
Big farms use inorganic or chimerical fertilizers to support plants with the nutrients it need for growth.
It maybe a quick solution, but it has a bad impact on the soil.
A review made to see the effects of fertilizers on soil’s microbial growth and populations, proves that inorganic fertilizers depletes the soil from the organic matter it has.
On a long run soil organisms will decreases in number till it disappear completely due to the lack of organic matter.
Also you have to be careful when using these kind of fertilizers. If you add to much of it to the soil it will burn the plants.
On the other hand, organic fertilizers do wonders for the soil.
- It proved soil’s organisms like microbes with the organic matter it needs to thrive.
- On the long run it improves soil structure and health.
In fewer words, organic fertilizers job is to keep natural and keep the harmony of the soil’s ECO system.
Fact: Soil microbes’s job is to break down the organic matter to make it available in a form the plant can use.
Reduces food waste
You can dramatically reduce your home food wast by using any lift-overs vegetables or fruit to make compost to fertilize your garden.
This is unbelievably important.
Do you know? In the U.S.A, some 27 million metric tons of food waste recorded in 2015 from homes ALONE.
Very big and scary number, I know right. But that not just about it there is more, sadly!
The crisis behind wasted food is when massed in landfills it produces huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
That kind of emissions are responsible for climate forcing -a change in the Earth’s energy balance, leading to either a warming or cooling effect over time-.
In 25 years from 1990 to 2015, total warming effect from greenhouses gasses made by humans increased by 37%.
Now you get the picture.
By doing a thing as easy and small as saving leftovers to compost them, you are making a huge favor for yourself and the environment.
Fights soil erosion
If you have a very big field and leaving in a rainy region and afraid that rain sweep away the soil, you can protect it by turning it into a garden.
In an experiment made to learn the importance of cover for the soil. Results have shown that 22 tonnes per hectare of uncovered soil were lost with a 70% rainfall runoff from a 54mm storm.
So to prevent rainfall from sweeping the land away, you can cover the land with grass and some tress and you can even made a section for vegetables too, to keep the soil where it should be.
I hope you are as motivated as I’m now and can see how important this is.
From health to lifestyle and the environment, gardening is a very awesome way to help yourself, each other and our Earth.
If you know or experienced other gardening benefits, please tell us about it in the comment section.
So what are you wanting for? Start gardening, NOW!
There are many seed starting mixes brands in the market. Your ability to choose the best of these brands depend on your knowledge about seed germination requirements and seed starting mixes.
That’s why before I tell about what is the best brand, we are going to talk about what are seed starting mixes are, and why you should use them in your indoor seeding.
If you already know what seed mixes are all about, you can jump to the end of this article to see my number one pick:
The Best Seed Starting Mix
If you are still reading, then let me first explain more about what seed starting mixes are?
What is Seed Starting Mix?
Starting mix is the media made specifically for seed germination. Gardeners use it to plant vegetable seeds to get a head start before the season, or if they have problems in their soil that reduce germination rate.
Why are they made specifically for seed germination?
Before I answer this question let me first tell you what seeds need to germinate:
Light Soil Texture
Since young roots don’t have enough strength to navigate through thick soil such as topsoil mixed with organic materials. They need a thinner and easy to navigate media.
Lots of Water
Water is the most important factor when it comes to germination. It plays a big role actually.
For a seed to germinate it has to absorb a lot of water first to break its coat and second to activates its enzymes which break down the food reserve into chemicals to be used in the plant’s metabolism.
It is like your car key. Without it, you can’t drive your car anywhere.
Oxygen soil ratio is another very important factor for seed germination. Root growth is very sensitive to oxygen ratio in the soil. If roots didn’t get enough oxygen, its growth will be Inhibited and the whole plant will not grow to its full potential.
A project between the Department of Irrigation and Soil Science at Los Angeles and the Department of Soils and Plant Nutrition at Riverside shows the reaction of sunflowers root growth toward various oxygen treatments.
The project indicates the following:
- If the oxygen diffusion rate was under 40, improvement to soil aeration should be made for ideal plant growth.
- If the diffusion rate was under 20, roots will not grow.
You can tell that these roots in the picture above belong to a full grown plant, yet oxygen still affects its growth dramatically.
That’s why oxygen is even more important in the early stages of germination.
Because seeds depend on oxygen as the main source of energy, until the first couple of leaves grows and starts photosynthesis.
Now let me show you why some gardeners prefer seed starting mixes for sowing seeds indoors, under the light of these germination requirements I just mentioned.
A good mix depends on its ingredients because it gives it the characteristics it needs for seed germination.
A Good Seed Starting Mix Consists of:
Perlite & Vermiculite: Due to the nature of their surface and structure, both Perlite and Vermiculite has the ability to trap as well as drain moisture, along with providing excellent aeration. Which makes them excellent ingredients for a seed starting mix.
Peat Moss: Peat Moss has a high retaining water capacity, good martial for aeration and holding fertilizers. It considered a base for any mix for growing vegetables.
Coconut Coir: Can be a substitute for peat moss cause it a renewable source which means it is eco-friendly.
Starting mixes made of a mixture of Perlite or Vermiculite and Peat Moss or Coconut Coir, are an excellent medium for a high seed germination and healthy seedlings.
Each material proved seeds with the ideal water, oxygen and texture conditions for germination.
The Best 2 Seed Starting Mixes
- Printed USDA Certified Organic on the bag
- All natural
- Weight 6 pounds
- Sphagnum peat moss
- Peat humus: Unlike the partially decomposed peat moss, Peat humus is a highly decomposed organic material that builds up in the lower levels of peat bogs. Comes from Hypnum moss and its water capacity is lower than peat moss
- Myco-tone: An Espoma’s blend. It consists of 11 different stains of Mycorrhizae
- OMRI listed organic and by the organic materials review institute for the production of organic food and fiber
- 8-quart bag
- Canadian sphagnum peat moss
- Wetting agent
There you have it. You now know why you should use a seed starting mix for your indoor sowing for next season or indoor gardening.
Now what needs to be done is experimenting with the product above. Yes, other gardeners may say this or that is better than the other, but in the end, see the best for you and stick with it.
Till we meet again keep gardening 😀