What’s in Your Humus?

My  friend Steve  dropped off a large cardboard box of  Organic Gardening and farming magazines that dated back to the late 60’s a couple of weeks ago.

A  treasure trove of information.

If you’ve been reading along for any time now, you know I  grew up on a small dairy farm.

That’s me on the right

Just because I grew up on a farm, a master gardener it did not  make.

Last night I was  reading an  article entitled  “What puts the life in Humus?”

      “To some people, humus is humus and that’s all there is to it.   (is that what you think?)

     To know the true value of humus as a factor in making plants grow, we must delve below the surface and find out that thing or two about it’s activities….

microscopic view of soil biodiversity

  More quantity may not mean too much.  We must realize that we do not want humus for it’s mere presence. We want it for what it can do for the soil and for plants.

      When either raw organic matter (such as fresh manure )  or what we term finished compost is put into the soil, decay begins to take place.  If there were no decomposition these substance would be little value.  As it decays, nitrogen and other substances are released, and when there is sufficient organic matter for a continuous process of decomposition to go on, it maintains a goodly stream of nitrogen coming from it. 

There is a dynamic quality 0 a movement from the organic matter that is required if it is to be of any value. 

     The benefit comes not so much from the character of the finished product as from the process of decay taking place in the soil itself.    Organic matter to be functional to the soil must decay in the soil, and decaying the supply must be constantly renewed. ”  end of quote


Honestly, I’d never heard the term Humus before. This morning as I continued to ruminate on the article, I kept thinking, there has got to be a way for me to get my hands on some cattle  manure…it is a great source of humus

I live in the middle of farm country for crying out loud.  So I picked up the phone,

Called my neighbor Jim.

Asked  if there was any chance I might have a  spreader load (or 2?) of cattle manure preferably  mixed with straw or corn stocks.

“We have both, how much do you want?”  

Music to my ears :-)

We decided it would be better to wait a week  for the ground to firm up before we take delivery.


And so, I’d like to extend an invitation to you the reader.  If you’ve ever wished you could spend a day in the country puttering around on a farm, drop me a note.  I could use several hands prepping the garden site this year.  I’m hoping to build several raised beds and fill them with lush organic humus.  This won’t happen until at least mid April/ May so you still have plenty of time to think about it.

Here’s kind of what I’m envisioning as the end product:

      “The Creation is a unique, irreplaceable gift, therefore to be used with humility, respect, and skill.”

Wendell Berry,  The Unsettling of America : Culture and Agriculture

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About DM

sitting on my grandpa's farm porch with Feedie
This entry was posted in country living, enjoying life, farming, life in the country, organic, self sufficient, spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What’s in Your Humus?

  1. Joanna says:

    I love the picture of soil biodiversity. Very nice.
    Joanna, thanks for your comment. I just subscribed to your blog..looks like a lot of great reading. DM

  2. And here I thought we were talking about chick pea dip. *facepalm*
    you’re probably not the only one :-)

  3. Lis says:

    Ha! I totally thought this was going to be a post about chick pea dip as well. :)
    Love, LOVE the quote by Wendell Barry at the end. So true.

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