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?
When it comes to growing plants, the organic soil definition is a 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 is actually beneficial.
Beneficial microorganisms are another key to a green garden. They help keep harmful soil-borne 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.