Organic matter is very beneficial for the yard and the garden, but just like any other good thing, it needs to be used properly in order to be fully beneficial. This article will look at the potential drawbacks of organic matter, and how to avoid through proper usage.
Organic material shortcoming, no guarantee it will have balanced nutrients: Organic matter varies in its nutrient content, and there is no absolute certainty it will have enough of a given nutrient. Sometimes, it has too much of a nutrient. Organic material is an asset for providing nutrients, but there are no guarantees, and plants should still be monitored for nutrient deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies must be treated with fertilizer or an alternative source of organic material that provides that nutrient, as it is not present in the currently used organic matter source.
Organic material shortcoming, too much of a good thing is not good: Organic matter is no different than fertilizers and soil amendments in that regard. If applied too thick, the soil and plants cannot absorb or use all of the nutrients, and excess nutrients will leach and are lost. Organic matter is natural, but used in too large quantities, it becomes a natural source of water pollution. As a rule, apply no more than two inches of organic matter, and no more than one inch if it is from a high-nutrient source such as manure.
Organic material shortcoming, too little or too much nitrogen: Organic materials made of decomposing wood are low in nitrogen, so they need to take nitrogen from the soil to decompose and compete with plants for the nitrogen. Other materials can potentially be too high in nitrogen and if applied excessively can result in excessive leaf growth and poor root storage growth in root vegetables. Alfalfa hay and manure are examples of materials rich in nitrogen. If the plants cannot absorb the nitrogen, it can leach into and pollute the water.
Organic material shortcoming, disease harboring: Organic material that is dug straight into the soil or allowed to stay on top of the soil, and organic material that did not heat up enough in the decomposition process can harbor diseases and insects that will spread onto new plants. This is especially true with remains of previous crops. For that reason, material from crops should be removed from the garden. Diseased material should be destroyed. Non diseased material should be allowed to decay in an area where it will incorporate into the environment, but not be returned to the garden from where it came.
So by knowing organic material isn’t perfectly balanced in nutrients, by using it in proper amounts, by being attentive to how different types of material affect the crops, and by proper disposal of organic garden waste, gardeners can reap the full benefits of organic material without incurring the drawbacks.