Go Play in the Dirt!

by Sandy Swegel

Two health articles came across my desk this week praising the virtues of getting in touch with dirt.  Now most gardeners know that one of the best things about gardening is getting to play in the dirt.  Spring gardens are always well dug and turned because it’s such a joy (weather permitting) to prepare the garden beds for first planting. Now, apparently, instead of just being fun, getting in close contact with dirt is good for you.

Dirt is Good for your Gut.
High-end probiotics now include soil bacteria in their mix of other ordinary acidophilus bacteria.  Scientists at the Sage Colleges of Troy, N.Y., have discovered that exposure to certain kinds of soil bacteria can reduce anxiety and increase learning capabilities when ingested or inhaled, reports Physorg.com.http://phys.org/news193928997.html

Dirt is Good for your Feet.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has a vast website of health information, wrote that “When walking on the earth barefoot, free electrons from the earth transfer into your body via the soles of your feet. These free electrons are some of the most potent antioxidants known to man. “ http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/29/james-oschman-on-earthing.aspx
Walking barefoot in the grass or on dirt is now known as “earthing” and everyone should do it every day.

Other studies have been done saying dirt is good for your skin, and that kids exposed at a young age to dirt have fewer allergy problems.

So enjoy getting dirty. Eat some vegetables with bits of dirt still clinging to it.  Let the free radicals of the earth heal your body.  Playing in the dirt is good for you!

How to Make Garden Friends

by Sandy Swegel

Many of the ideas for this blog come from questions I hear from an email list of gardeners I belong to.  I introduced a new gardener to our group this week and she was so grateful to suddenly have a whole network of people she could turn to when she had a question.  She’ll soon realize what we all know:  that it is so cool to have so many plant-geek friends.

Our group started rather accidentally, but you can start your own low maintenance group of garden friends.  You’ll learn lots about gardening and many of your gardening buddies will turn into real friends because gardeners are really nice people.

Most of our group had gone once or twice to a local gardening club but didn’t really fit in because we were interested in growing food and the garden clubs here were more interested in flowers.  Our group started accidentally by one of us posting a note on the virtual bulletin board of one of those proper flower groups that said, “Tomato Seed Swap, Saturday. Email for details.”  We just wanted to try some new varieties of tomatoes without going broke by each person ordering 10 different packs of seeds. We’d just order seeds together.  Well, ten people showed up for that first meeting.  Then, of course, we had to trade emails so we could find out how everyone else’s seeds were doing.  Then someone brought up the topic of manure and if that made tomatoes grow better.  Soon one person took a truck to a local farm and we all showed up at his house with an empty bucket for manure.  Come harvest season, another person invited us to her place to see her tomatoes.  The key to us becoming a cohesive group was that Niki saw how much fun we were having and declared “We needed a name.” and She announced we were the “Boulder Culinary Gardeners.”  Soon we were having email discussions about zucchini and herbs and organic pest control.  Although we had all been gardening on our own and felt we didn’t know much,  collectively, we knew a lot about gardening.  Post a question on the list and one of our small group had an idea of the answer.  Since then 10 people has become 150 and we all know so much more now.  We haven’t saved much money on seeds though.  Turns out gardeners can never have enough seeds.  So we still share tomato seeds, but we take the money we saved on those to buy heirloom squash and watermelons and plants we had never heard of before like broccoli raab.

You can make new garden friends pretty easily using this method.  Or help others build a community of friends who grow food.  A friend belongs to an HOA where people didn’t know each other well but all of them belonged to an email list for HOA business.  My friend offered HOA members a  free Seed Starting class and Seed Swap. (Seed avarice seems to be the real secret to bringing gardeners together.) Five people showed up and now are making friendships across the high fences of the HOA.

Make some new friends today.  Everybody wants to grow food these days but don’t know for sure how to do it.  Just about everybody wishes they had more friends with similar interests and don’t really know how to do that.  Seeds can bring people together.