Newswise — Feb. 15, 2016 - Intentionally or unintentionally, many gardeners have left plants in their gardens over the winter. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) February 15 Soils Matter blog post explains this is actually a good thing… and something everyone should consider on a yearly basis.

According to blog writers Kelley House and Kate Norvell, both certified professional soil scientists, plant “litter” that remains after a harvest is called “residue”. Leaving the residues in place over the winter, instead of pulling them up or tilling them into the soil surface, provides numerous benefits for the soil and your garden.

• Plant residues reduce erosion and the loss of valuable topsoil. • Having plant residues on the soil surface prevents something called soil crusting.• Residual plant material reduces weeds by covering and shading the soil. • Plant residues provide shade, regulating soil temperature.• Cooler soil temperatures also aid in the retention of soil moisture, which in turn is favorable for seed germination in the spring and crop growth.• Crop residues provide micro-habitats that protect and benefit the germinating plant seeds and establishing seedlings. • Plant residues provide a source of organic matter for the soil.

To read the entire blog post, visit

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The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, and founded in 1936, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members and 1,000+ certified professionals dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. The Society provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.