How to create humus in the garden and improve soil fertility

Soil humus is an organic matter consisting of the remains of plant and soil organisms. The content of humus in garden soil has a very large impact on its fertility. The secret to healthy, vigorous plants is the high humus content in the soil: the richer the soil, the easier it is to grow plants.

The value of humus for plants

Humus creates a soil structure where favorable circulation of water, air, and the required temperature is ensured, which predetermines good root growth in the soil. As a result of the activity of various microorganisms, humus is mineralized, as a result of which nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other useful elements are released. Humus creates favorable conditions for the development and further activity of various microorganisms.

Soil fertility is its ability to provide the plant with the necessary nutrients, water and air. Soil fertility is affected by such factors as acidity, salinity, the presence of essential minerals and microorganisms, as well as saturation with carbon dioxide. Humus improves soil fertility in various ways:

  • protects the soil from leaching of mineral elements by rain or wind, which can lead to soil depletion;
  • prevents soil compaction and, therefore, facilitates work with the earth;
  • Soil pH ranges from 6.0 to 6.8.
  • improves water permeability and aeration;
  • the soil structure is well-drained;
  • the many microorganisms living in the soil support the growth of plants.

Features of fertile soil

The fertility of the earth is proportional to the amount of humus present in it. The more humus the soil contains, the darker the fertile layer is colored.

 Fertile soil

Fertile soil is loose and crumbly because it has a lot of air spaces. Plant roots are able to penetrate deep into the soil, providing long-term drought tolerance.

Additional Information! The soil can become infertile over time as the humus content in it decreases due to hot weather, tillage without the addition of organic matter. The number and activity of microorganisms in the soil is reduced. In their absence, the production of nutrients in the soil is drastically reduced.

To improve soil aeration, humus, mulch, or other organic material is regularly added when planting.

Although fertilizers provide nutrients to plants, they do not solve the problem of soil fertility. Humus is formed by the action of fungi, bacteria and earthworms, which play a significant role. The maintenance of microorganisms in the soil is a solution because their activity determines the fertility of the soil and, consequently, good growth and productivity of plants.

Growing humus in the garden

Depending on the area, the composition of the soil can vary greatly. The humus content is closely related to the type of soil, it improves the density of sandy soils, and makes clay soils looser.

Sandy soil consists of large particles with large air gaps between them. Therefore, water quickly drains from it, water-soluble nutrients are quickly washed away before plants can use them. Humus added to sandy soil to retain moisture and dissolved nutrients.

 Maintaining soil health

Clay soils are dense because the particles are small with little air gaps between them. They stick together, water fills the air spaces. Moisture does not leave such soil well, the roots of plants rot. Adding humus to clay soil prevents small particles from sticking together tightly, creating more space. The soil structure improves, it drains more easily and retains air.

The acidity or alkalinity of the soil, expressed as pH, affects how much nutrients are available to plants. Reduced acidity inhibits the absorption of iron, boron, copper, elements necessary for plant health.

Additional Information! Excessive acidity (pH below 6.0) prevents the plants from absorbing other nutrients. Humus protects the soil from pH changes, and so adding plenty of organic matter to the soil will help maintain the desired pH level.

Soil rich in humus is alive. It creates a soil environment that supports beneficial bacteria and attacks and controls pathogens. Feeding gardens with organic materials such as shredded leaves, compost, or shredded bark prevents soil pest problems.

Increasing the humus content in the soil is quite easy. Compost, mulch, green manure, manure, organic fertilizers are suitable for creating humus in the garden. All you have to do is what happens in the wild in the forests and grasslands. There, all organic waste is decomposed into humus by a variety of organisms in the topsoil.

Regular mulching of garden soil

The biomass in the soil is subject to constant decomposition and accumulation, and can remain stable, increase or decrease.

Topsoil depletion occurs when arable land is eroded by natural processes as well as by human activities. The topsoil can be eroded during the rainy season.

Organic mulching is important to create a layer of humus, as mulch keeps the soil from drying out, keeping life in the soil in good condition.

 Organic mulching

Gradually, the mulch decomposes and turns into humus, and thus provides the soil with nutrients, protects the microfauna necessary for life in the soil. Regular mulching is one of the most important measures for the accumulation of humus in the garden. In addition to increasing the humus content, the mulch layer prevents the growth of weeds,

Like mulching, fast-growing green manure enriches the soil. After cutting plants left on the ground or buried, as they decompose, they eventually form humus. Some plants work great as green manure. The most interesting plants of the legume family (clover, alfalfa, sainfoin, lupins, beans, etc.), as well as phacelia and mustard.

 Fast growing green manure

Saturation of the soil with carbon dioxide accelerates natural reactions in the soil, allows you to increase the growth rate of plants and their productivity. Natural fertilizers increase carbon dioxide levels and increase the productivity of the land.

Replenishing humus with garden compost

Compost is especially rich in humus. It enriches the soil with all the important nutrients. You can spread the compost every spring as the main fertilizer in the garden. However, garden compost usually has a relatively high lime and salt content and is therefore not suitable for heather plants such as rhododendrons. You also need to be careful with strawberries.

Note! To enrich the soil in the garden with humus, it is best to use composted autumn leaves. They provide loose soil. Leaves are harvested in autumn and allowed to rot for a year before being used as humus. Even semi-decomposed leaves can be used as manure for mulching or soil improvement.

Not all garden plants welcome humus-rich soil. Some Mediterranean herbs and ornamental plants such as rosemary, cistus, sage and lavender prefer soils with a low humus content.