All these creatures and entities are involved in the tremendous work of decomposing everything in their sight, and reducing these to their basic elements of carbon, nitrogen and other necessary nutrients into a material that plant roots can take up and provide to the rest of the plant.
An ideal soil would consist of the above concentrations of minerals and organic matter and the other 50 percent would include 25 percent air and 25 percent water in the porous areas.
If one digs into leaf mold, or into really good soil, tiny white filaments resembling spider webs can be seen spreading through the soil or leaves. This is mycorrhiza. Though deceptively small, a teaspoon of good soil can have eight or nine feet of the tiny strings.
A backyard gardener, using a well-managed compost system, can make a fairly large amount of good, rich “black gold” in about three months.
Bob Dailey is a master gardener, garden writer, and lecturer living in southeast Texas.