Soil Matters! Feed it!
You might wonder, "What does mulch, compost, and soil have to do with me?" Well, simply put, “Soil sustains life.” Healthy soils produce healthy plants, and healthy plants build healthy communities.
Soil is a living ecosystem comprised of water, air, minerals, and organic matter. In soil, organic matter consists of plant and animal material that is in the process of decomposing. Fully decomposed organic matter is called humus – the black gold of the garden. Humus aids in the development of soil structure by binding individual mineral particles of sand, silt, and clay together. Ideal garden and landscape soil has a granular, crumbly structure that allows water to drain through it easily, and allows oxygen and carbon dioxide to move freely between pore spaces within the soil and the air above.
One of the best ways to improve soil fertility is to add organic matter. By adding organic matter to sandy soil, for example, you improve the ability of the soil to retain water. Similarly, adding humus to a clay soil will loosen the soil to make it more crumbly and less vulnerable to compaction. You can increase the organic matter content of your soil by simply adding compost or applying mulch.
The application of organic matter to your soil adds carbon and promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms that will increase the vitality of your plants. You may not realize it, but every time you disturb soil by turning or tilling, oxygen also is added to the soil. The addition of oxygen stimulates microbes that utilize organic matter stored in soil as a food source. Repeatedly disturbing soil decreases the soil’s organic matter reserves. These reserves can only be restored by the addition of compost and application of mulch.
Healthy, productive soil has a good proportion of organic matter in it. You can successfully increase the quality of your soil by regularly adding organic matter. Caring for the soil is an ongoing process in which we all must play role. So get going. Compost, compost, compost! Mulch, mulch, mulch!