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Bacteria

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BacteriaThey may be made up of only a single cell, but bacteria are a garden’s heavy lifters—they’re responsible for most of the decomposition that turns organic matter into useful humus.

Have you ever seen a steaming pile of mulch, or felt the heat generated in a compost bin? It’s bacteria that generate this heat, a by-product of their digestion.

Besides making nutrients available to plants, bacteria play another important role: They fix nitrogen; that is, they absorb it from the atmosphere and convert it to a chemical compound useful to plants. Some nitrogen-fixing bacteria live free in the soil while others live attached to the roots of leguminous (bean family) plants—which is why crops like soybeans are sometimes planted on farmland to boost nitrogen in the soil.

What's that smell?

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