HUMUS, the black gold of the earth

Veronika Bond Books

“A book on humus should be as enjoyable to read as a good novel.”Veronika Bond

Books on humus are relatively rare. This the more surprising, the more you realise how important this stuff is!

Our current era has been declared the ‘Decade of Soils’, because humus is expected to run out within the next 60 years. That’s serious. Without humus, there will be no food, no plants, no animals, no humans, no life on earth.

Soil experts admit that ‘Humus is a mystery.’

Soil scientists say ‘soil science is currently in its infancy.’

Gardening books usually have a few pages related to humus — you have to look under the title ‘Compost’.

I started to research this topic because I wanted to grow food, and the soil in our garden was particularly bad. There was no soil. The ground was rockhard, mainly granite, some clay, no earthworms, none of the soft darkbrown crumbly substance you need for a vegpatch.

Bags and bags of ‘Compost’ from the garden centre and horse manure from a nearby horse farm made not much difference.

Of course, I didn’t only read about humus in books. I began to experiment with all kinds of materials and recipes, and within a very short time we were ‘growing’ our own humus, and harvesting our own organic vegetables, herbs and fruit.

There is nothing more delicious and satisfying than a meal straight from the kitchen garden to the table.  

Where I live, a lot of people have plenty of land and want to grow their own food. Not so many succeed, partly because of the ‘bad soil’, partly because it’s hard work, and partly due to lack of knowledge. This is surprising because growing your own fertile organic soil is actually easier than you might think.

In October 2017 our area of Portugal was hit by a particularly violent and destructive firestorm. It was not a ‘normal’ wildfire. The locals called it an ‘inferno’. Due to a combination of factors, the blaze got so hot, it melted even glass and metal.

The fire consumed many Quintas and forests. It burned not only trees, vegetation and buildings, it incinerated the soil. The book HUMUS, the black gold of the earth was conceived and written in the wake of this experience.

Through my research I had learned that humus helps to protect the soil against wildfires.

I had read many interesting books by soil experts, microbiologists, organic gardeners, agronomists, and eco-activists who worked and wrote during the past hundred years or so (from the late 19th century to 2015), and their knowledge was fresh in my head. To me, humus was no longer a mystery.

Moreover, my research included writings from many German authors, whose work had never been translated into English. I wanted to make this knowledge available to people who want to grow healthy food and need to learn how to make their own healthy soil.

HUMUS, the black gold of the earth was conceived in one moment, written within a few short weeks, the editing process took six months, and it was published last week.

Here is what readers have said about the book so far:

»I love your style of writing.«

»I learned so much from your book.«

»I really enjoyed reading your book.«

»Your book is very well written.«

»Your book scared the hell out of me.«

These unsolicited responses and comments are telling me that I have achieved my goal. I wanted to write a book on humus that is as enjoyable to read as a good novel.

Of course, I don’t want to ‘scare the hell out of’ anybody. But neither do I want people to say to me later ‘why didn’t you tell me?’

Humus is a fascinating subject, especially if you read authors who recognise it as a living organism (rather than decayed organic matter). Humus is alive, and full of surprises. There is so much to learn from it! This book is only the beginning.

Read more about the book and the author here.


The humus revolution has begun — you can be part of it