Humus is an essential element of soil life and plants. Humus-poor soil is a difficult soil to cultivate, in which few micro-organisms are home-grown and generally compact. What is humus exactly? In what way is it so useful to the plants of our gardens?
The humus in gardening
Definition of humus
Humus is the dark matter found on the surface of the soil. It comes from the decomposition of organic matter present in the earth: plants like leaves or pieces of wood, excrement and dead animals, rocks... All carbon-containing materials!
We speak of humus earth when it is dark, rich, loose and spongy. Easy to work, the humus soil warms easily in spring: an asset for seedlings. However, its acidity is high, which prevents the planting and cultivation of certain plants.
The role of humus in the garden
Humus is the pantry of the soil: it serves as store the nutrients necessary for the development of plants and spread them slowly. Organic matter deposited on the earth will decompose under the influence of soil organisms. These same organisms then go transform into nutrients for plants.
Humus is an important element of the soil structure: it improves the porosity of the earth and allows to better retain the water. The humus soil is light and loose, it is well ventilated, which promotes its fertility.
How to make your land humus?
- It is necessary to bring to the garden, and especially to the vegetable garden, organic matter on the ground like manure, shredding waste (a good technique is to use the mulching) or a mulching. These materials are broken down by soil micro-organisms and feed on humus.
- Green manures also serve to enrich the soil with humus: they are sown in place and mown just before going to seed. They stay on the ground where they decompose.
- The use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers tend to reduce considerably the richness of the ground: by avoiding to use them, you improve the conditions of life of the micro-organisms of the soil: worms, bacteria, mushrooms, larvae of insects...
- Soil microorganisms are very easily disturbed, which is why more and more people choose not to work their soil deeply: by respecting the soil biodiversity, we improve its fertility!