Iron Earth Canada

What is Humus?

Picture of a yellow flower growing in a dry soil for a blog about Humus on the IRON EARTH™ Gardening Tips Blog.

Humus versus compost

To put it simply, humus is the end product of decomposed organic matter or compost. It is dark magical matter that is home to fulvic and humic acids, substances that increase the nutrient bioavailability of a soil and also have the ability to render toxic soil pollutants inert.

The substances found in humus have direct and indirect effects on plant growth. Some humic substances can act as plant hormones, directly influencing seed germination and root & plant growth, yet also indirectly effect plant growth by altering soil structure (i.e., humic substances allow soil to hold more water, thus making for a healthier growing environment).

How to make humus

Again, since humus is fully decomposed organic matter, it can easily be created with a composter. Finished compost (i.e., fully decomposed plant and animal matter) is humus. So, start composting today to create healing and soil-remediating humus!

Is there a best garden soil?

Although there are numerous factors that determine which type of soil is best for plant growth, it is generally believed that for gardening and agricultural purposes, loam is the ideal soil.

What is loam?

All soil is composed of some combination of sand, silt and clay. Loam, an ideal soil for gardening, is a type of soil that consists of a specific combination of the particles sand, silt and clay: less than 52 percent sand, 28-50 percent silt and 7-17 percent clay.

How to prepare loam soil for a garden

Creating the perfect loamy soil is not as simple as adding a certain percentage of sand, silt or clay to an existing plot of ground. Although it would seem intuitive to add sand or silt to a high-clay soil, the end result would actually create an impenetrable soil that is unfit for growing.

Instead, in order to create the aerating and structural properties of certain particles, it is best to consistently add composted organic matter to the soil. Not only will compost help to aerate and hold water, but it will also provide nutrients and create conditions that are favourable for microbes, soil dwelling creatures and plant life.

What is peat humus?

Peat humus is decayed organic matter found at the bottom of peat bogs. A peat bog is a wetland that accumulates a peat (i.e., a collection of brown, decaying vegetative matter) usually made up of mosses. Peat humus is, therefore, not typical humus – the end result of the decomposition of animal and plant life - but will have some similar properties. Peat bogs are natural carbon sinks and have the ability to store massive amounts of carbon, so using peat products or humus for gardening is not recommended. Bog areas should be preserved and respected!

Did you find this article helpful?

If so, take a look at this post where we dig deeper into why soil is so important!