What is Organic Matter?

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The What, Why, Where and “WOW” of Organic Matter

The word “organic” is multi-dimensional and sometimes misunderstood because there are so many variations depending on context. In this book, we’re using the term as it relates to organic soil amendments and fertilizers.

You can create your own organic products without using certified organic materials.

What is Organic Matter?

Materials that come from living or once living plants and animals are called organic matter. Manure, plants and leaves (dead or living), worm castings, peat, seaweed and humus are all good examples of organic matter. Plants grown to amend the soil, called green manures, are also considered organic matter.

Organic matter eventually decays in nature or we can help it decay by composting it. Humus is naturally occurring organic matter that has decayed about as much as it can. Compost is decomposed or partially decomposed organic matter created by humans.

Why is Organic Matter Good for the Garden?

Garden soil must have organic matter to retain and move water, maintain structure and feed microorganisms, fungi and bacteria. Organic matter keeps the soil “alive”.

Where do I find Organic Matter?

There are many ways to gather or create your own organic matter. You can make compost, collect organic materials on the ground, look in your refrigerator, scope out the pantry, recycle weeds and pee in a cup. Friends, coffee shops and grocery stores may have excess organic matter waiting for you to repurpose.