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Humus

We’re not talking about chickpea dip, here. Humus (“HYOO-mus”) is decayed organic material, the remains of dead plants, animals, and other creatures. It’s the humus that gives rich soils their characteristic dark brown color.

The complex organic compounds in humus contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen—the stuff of life. Depending on exactly what life forms went into making it, humus may also contain nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other essential plant nutrients. As an added benefit, humus helps plants by trapping moisture in soil.

Some rich soils are up to 10 percent humus, but a typical soil contains a much smaller amount. Some gardeners boost what nature has provided by composting—collecting organic waste (yard trimmings, kitchen scraps) for rapid breakdown into humus.

More on composting.

Soil. . .It's ALIVE!

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