Back to your roots. Down to earth. Has anyone ever offered you a slice of humble pie? Have you ever had to eat dirt or crow? Or, if you are from the south, you may be familiar with the phrase “whoa, hold on to your britches there.”

This one word with nearly endless euphemisms comes from the Latin words humilis and humus meaning low or lowly and ground. To inhume is to bury or lay in the ground.

How often do we really think about what is under our feet? What exactly is humus and how is it related to the plant world? Soil quality is crucial for gardening, farming and our food supply. Humus is derived from various kinds of organic matter. In fact, you could say that humus is organic matter.

Our soils can have too much clay, sand or silt. Or, they can be so depleted that plants struggle to thrive. “Humus creates a loose structure that simultaneously holds moisture and drains well.” This organic matter is literally the “life support system of soil.”

In the undisturbed natural world, as in a forest, plants are allowed to decompose where they grow, as well as deceased animals. Leaf litter is left on the ground, along with seeds, fruit and other plant debris. Bacteria, fungi and other micro-organisms assist with this decomposition. Earthworms and other larger organisms continue their work, so there is a regular revitalization process going on in the wild. I have often noticed and been amazed at how plants can look so healthy and vibrant in the forest without humans regularly fertilizing them.

According to a Texas A&M horticulture newsletter, humus can solve many problems in our gardens. If your soil is compacted, then adding organic matter can loosen it. Conversely, if your soil is too sandy and drains too quickly …read more

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment


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