Assess Your Garden Conditions

Assessing Organic Material in Soil

Summer brings a sunny bounty of flowers to harvest for bouquets, your reward for great gardening.

In nature, topsoil is richer than subsoil. Topsoil is the dark brown layer of soil that is at the surface and is the product of years and years of breakdown of organic matter, whereas the subsoil below can be mainly clay or sand. Organic matter gives life to the soil.

Every soil needs organic matter for its texture and workability, as well as a supply of nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth. It is the material that comes from leaves, animal droppings, twigs, fallen logs, weeds, and many other once-living sources.

In the forest, leaves pile up, mixed with other organic matter, and decay into a dark, rich layer, which is where growing plants prefer to have their roots. Earthworms and beneficial microorganisms process the organic matter, turning it into simpler compounds that plants use to nurture themselves.

Where there is little organic matter, the necessary compounds can be added with packaged fertilizers, but they do not address soil texture, and it can be difficult to add every necessary trace mineral that natural organic matter will provide. Ensure good soil quality, texture, and quantity by adding plentiful organic matter in the form of chopped leaves, animal manures, wood chips and other mulches, and compost.

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