Humus vs. Compost

When it comes to the health and production of your garden, The terms of ‘compost’ and ‘humus’ cannot be used interchangeably. So what is the difference between hum and compost anyway? And how can humus be used successfully in the garden? Oh, and just to clarify things a bit… humus is not the same thing as hummus; humus is not nearly as tasty when eaten with your favorite brand of tortilla chips… or anything else for that matter.

So, let’s define some terms; what is compost? Compost is organic matter that has been largely decomposed. This process is called composting, and it recycles various organic materials – generally regarded as waste products – and produces a soil conditioner of sorts. Compost is generally rich in nutrients and can be used in gardens, landscaping, and farming.

Secondly, let’s define humus; in soil science, humus (a term that comes from the Latin humus for earth) denominates the fraction of soil organic matter that lacks the cellular cake-like structure of plants or micro-organisms. Humus also has a big impact the bulk density of soil and contributes to its retention of moisture and nutrients. Humus is also sometimes referred to as a topsoil horizon that contains organic matter. Humus is technically the dark organic matter which forms in soil when dead plant matter decays. Humus is extremely nutrient dense which helps to drastically improve the health of soil, nitrogen being the most important factors in this equation.