Adding Organic Matter Is Most Important

What is this "organic material" I need and how do I add it to my soil?

Chopped Leaves are best if you have them. 

Autumn is the time to collect leaves. If you have large trees, you get your supply the easy way. You collect and chop the leaves at the same time using a mulching mower on the lawn and a blower/vacuum machine on the garden beds and around trees and shrubs.  

Oak and Maple leaves are filne. Rumors abound that these species of tree have leaves that are bad for the soil or bad for the compost pile; not true.

Black Walnut leaves on the other hand should be avoided in any soil building project. They have a chemical that can be harmful to some other plants






Shredded Bark Mulch works and looks good but can be expensive

Mixture of Canadian Sphagnum Peat Most and quality compost  can also be expensive

Straw is best for a vegetable garden

Used Coffee grounds are beneficial if you can find enough.

Grass Clippings Should Be Left On Lawn

The way you get the organic matter into the soil is to use it as mulch.

A major source of organic materials to feed the soil food web comes from the surface of the soil in the form of mulch. The earthworms are the caterers in this food system. They pull pieces of mulch or organic debris down into the soil for their lunch as well as to feed all the soil microbes. Not only is the organic material food for the community in the soil, as their population increases they begin to eat each other; it’s a jungle down there.

What is critical here is that in the process of organic material being broken down and everyone eating everyone, there are byproducts of that chomping in the form of chemicals such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and many other micro-nutrients which happen to be in perfect form to be food for plants. In other words, the soil food web slowly decomposes organic matter and produces food for plants. In addition, those byproducts include chemicals that help the soil become less compacted and drain more easily. Some byproducts act as sponges and help the soil store more water.  Lots of good things happen when the soil food web has sufficient organic material available to chew on.   


see all questions...

Do you have a gardening question? Ask Nancy