Clay vs. Humus

Clay and humus play an important role in soil structure and plant growth, however, too much of one of them is frustrating and too little of the other is a pending death sentence.

What is clay?
Clay in soil is a fine-grained natural rock or soil material and appears in deposits due to weatherization. ( If you are living in Brazoria County, Texas then you are living on a deposit- ha!) Clay can appear in soil in various colors from white to dull grey or brown to deep orange-red. A clay particle is finer than silt and sand and according to geologist and soil scientist,  a clay particle is less than 2 micrometer. (a hair strand is about 100 mm in diameter) Due to how small a clay particle is, it has a larger surface area compared to silt and sand and contributes to the chemistry of the soil. Clay mineral is usually negatively charged and attracts water and positively charged elements in the soil, such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc. With that being said, clay isn’t entirely harmful because it has some ability to retain water and nutrients, however if there’s too much of it, because of it’s small size, it can choke the soil out of all its oxygen and block soil microbes from encouraging soil structure and nutrient cycling …making the soil hardpan and dead.

Now, what about Humus?
Humus is the end product of decomposed organic matter that was had by soil microbes. It can be seen as the chocolate/black gold of the earth and acts as an anchor for soil nutrients. It appears in color ranging from dark brown to black and smells earthy and is fluffy to the touch. Humus is negatively charged and has a high cation-exchange-capacity (CEC) that helps the soil retain water and positively charged elements that are beneficial to plant heath. Humus appears in soil from organic matter that is left alone and microbes that eat it or each other and releases nutrients. It can also appear in soil by adding Compost with a capital- C and weatherization, but these take either some work and or time. The end result and benefits of organic matter breakdown (humus) are accessible nutrients that can be taken up by plants, improved soil tilth, pest-resistance, and toxin reduction.  If there is too little humus in the soil, plants suffers, insects are happy, animals suffer, and we suffer. In the US, the average amount of organic matter in soil ranges between 1-5% and ideal percentages to grow flowers and vegetables are 4-6%.

In other words, there can never be too much humus in our soils, unlike clay, it improves our well-being as well as other life forms. So please. Keep your soils covered with organic matter and add compost! ❤

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Links to check out
Soil Components: 
Percentages of OM in soil:
How plants eat:


Too Much Coffee + Worms = Tears

I did an embarrassing thing last week. I added waaaay too many coffee grounds to my worm bin and suffered the consequences alongside my poor misshapen worms. Okay, so I didn’t suffer as much as my worms did, but it brought me to tears. My worms’ bodies were bulbous on one end and super thin on the other while their insides oozed onto my hands. It was traumatizing!!!!! I watched this happen and felt so hopeless. Here I was, comfortable in air-conditioning with an ability to get outside when I got tired of it. My worms, on the other hand, were weakened in a SUPER acidic bin with no way to crawl out. They instead burrowed deeper into the bin and wrapped around each other to stay alive. UGH D: I may have lost half of my worms. I am not sure yet.

I tried to remedy this problem by adding crushed egg shells and grass clippings, hoping to lower the pH.

Folks, if you drink a lot of coffee, be cautious of the amount of coffee grounds you give to your worm bin… it could turn ugly quickly.

Hopefully, I’ll still have some worms left over. Is that how survival of the fittest works? LOL GAHH! D:



Beneficial Nematodes

“When released into the soil, nematodes seek out the larvae and pupae of susceptible pests by sensing the heat and carbon dioxide they generate. They enter pests through various orifices or directly through the “skin.” Once inside the host, they release a bacterium that kills it within a day or two. They will continue to feed on the remains, multiplying as they do, before exhausting it and leaving to seek another food source…”

Compost pile #2 in Haiti

As many of you already know, I REALLY love composting. It is one of my many passions, and I get to focus on it while my stay in Haiti. I really lucked out on this opportunity thanks to Zach Wright and William Clark <3.

This compost, like the first one, was VERY hot. I tend to get overly excited on high nitrogen, maybe I am secretly pyro? I don’t know. However, I did use less hi-nitrogen compared to the first one. Below is the recipe.

60% Brown; Bagasse, Corn Stalk, and compost as an inoculant, 30% Green; grass clippings, and 10% hi-nitrogen; black bean.

I also had an opportunity to teach new friends how to build aerobic thermal compost pile! In the near future, they will teach others this wonderful science/art form and create a composting facility at a hospital here in Haiti! Yes! Winning!!!

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Cover your Earth. Period.

The Mother does not like to be naked. How would you feel if you were hanging out on a beach, dressed in your swimsuit with a pina colada, then all of a sudden a snow blizzard came blowing through on your beach day? Okay, so that is a bit extreme, but it is essentially what happens to the creatures that live in the soil when we do not cover it.

The Earth begs for her protection by covering herself with “weeds”, so do her a favor, either keep the weeds there or cover her with cover crops, wood chips, straw, lawn clippings, cardboard, or any other organic woody materials. DO NOT put down gardeners plastics or anything of the such. The Earth is alive, it has to breathe too.

Stay conscious and Happy Autumn!!!


Oh yeah, check out my babies (their soil is covered with the leftovers of sugar cane called bagasse).

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