The spectacular installation by Sicilian artist Giuseppe Licari presents a fanciful network of tree roots, which seem to transform TENT’s central space into a mysterious underworld: the roots project downwards from the ceiling as if the trees are growing above it. The title of the work is ‘Humus’, referring to the soil layer that is essential for the growth of trees and plants, but which is indeed absent here. The relationship between humankind and nature, growth and decay are central themes in Licari’s work, which resonates with an echo of Arte Povera.


Episode 44 - Litter Trappers

These plants don’t worry about soil, they make their own! Because so many species in the tropics grow either epiphytically or in nutrient poor soil, some of them have turned to alternative solutions. Their anatomy is such that they collect everything from dead leaves to bird droppings. A diverse community of soil microbes and invertebrates can then go to work to create nutrient rich humus. What’s more, litter trapping abilities can be found in plants as distantly related as ferns and orchids! Join me for an interesting discussion with Dr. Scott Zona, the curator of Florida International University’s Werthheim Conservatory to talk about his work finding and describing litter trapping plants. This is one discussion you don’t want to miss. 

Photo Credits: Ch'ien C. Lee, Pete The Poet, and Scott Zona


4 Tips For Building Soil From Scratch

Recycle your home, food, and personal waste as fertilizer and mulch to build your garden’s soil quality without spending a dime.

Themed landscapes, such as alpine gardens, bog gardens, rain gardens or xeriscapes, work with soils that are at the extremes of alkalinity, acidity and water saturation, and accordingly rely on both careful plant selection and a working knowledge of soil chemistry and ecology. For your average temperate-zone gardener of edible crops, however, a basic fertile humus soil is what makes or breaks a garden. Building this productive, black soil from scratch takes time and energy, but in this age of rampant soil depletion and concurrent abundance of both food waste and wastewater, it’s a deceptively easy (and cheap) endeavor.

Humus achieves its characteristic black or dark brown color because it’s high in carbon matter. This means it is mostly or exclusively comprised of decayed or decaying organic material, from both plants and animals. A carbon-rich organic humus provides myriad ecological services to an area of cultivation, ranging from increased biodiversity in the soil life web, support and nourishment of mycelial networks, absorption and breakdown of pollutants, increased water retention, and increased nutrient bioavailability and storage.

Instead of purchasing this invaluable commodity, with a few easy best practices, you can make organic soil-building a part of your daily gardening.

Read more on Urban Farm

My latest article is up over at Urban Farm! You can read my archive here.

Become a Biodynamic Gardener, and grow your own. Learn about “the buddy system” and “companion plantings” as well as composting and crop rotation. Certain plants benefit by growing near other plants: tall crops can provide a canopy for shorter crops; leeks will repel carrot flies; include flowering herbs and perennials to attract beneficial insects. 

Illustration:  Genevieve Simms 

[Humus and Mihel]
humusbrick replied to your post: Ohh, a fellow Bosmer, and such a pretty face as well! What brings you here~?

/Lets out a pleased hem at the accepted compliment./ Heh, here, as in the place of course. I haven’t had the pleasure of running into many of our kind here!

*Mihel smiles serenely* I quite agree with you. Always a delight to happen upon kin.

I arrived here in search of something. How about you?

If you have every wondered what a Staghorn Fern (Platycerium superbum) looks like after 25 years of cultivation, now you have an idea.

This Australian native is normally found in rainforests, where it grows on trees and creates a “nest” where humus accumulates.

Like many orchids, bromeliads, and other ferns, it is an epiphyte (a non-parasitic plant that lives on another plant, instead of rooting in soil).

These plants are excellent at deriving or accumulating nutrition from their environment (pooling water, efficiently using water vapour, and deriving nutrition from organic detritus).

In nature, these plants are also important habitats: becoming micro-ecosystems that support insects, amphibians, reptiles, and other organisms.

#epiphytes #ferns #Staghorn fern