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Organic Matter Matters for Oconee Gardeners

Add organic matter to soil to improve garden productivity.

With Spring fast approaching, garden soils should be amended with organic matter (OM). Why does OM matter? Well, OM is the source of all that is good in soil.

OM is simply carbon. It consists of plant or animal material that has begun to decompose. This broken-down OM is called humus, and it holds together soil particles to give soil that desired crumbly texture. It also serves as a nutrient reservoir, slowly releasing minerals that plants need to survive.

OM feeds beneficial microbes that improve plant health. Tilling your soil adds oxygen, which increases bacterial breakdown of OM. So, you should add OM every time you plow your garden or till flower beds.

Sources of OM vary. I manage a compost heap where I toss all of my kitchen scraps, allowing them to decompose into compost. Other sources include animal manure, mushroom compost, leaf litter and grass clippings. I mulch my vegetable garden with wheat straw and plow it under each Spring.

Organic matter matters! Add plenty this winter to benefit your crops this spring. Your plants will thank you by providing more flowers, fruit and vegetables.

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