49 / Gardening



Gardening and looking forward to new growth seems to me an apt topic for the first day of the New Year. Research has shown that gardening as an activity has multiple benefits.  It is advantageous, for example, in the development of a healthier, more robust immune system for children to be allowed to get their hands dirty during their formative years by comparison with children who are kept squeaky clean.  I have read of schools experimenting with teaching basic, outdoor survival skills foregoing the usual, formal classroom situations.  Followers of A.S.Neil and the Free School movement he inspired.  Conscious of the widening gap between urban and rural environments. This knowledge absolves me from the twinges of guilt I still feel from having watched local children exiting our tiny patch of garden on a housing estate where we once lived in Dublin with hands happily covered in mud.  I can console myself that probably I may at least have helped enhance their protection a little against, eczema, asthma and allergies later in life.

For all ages a stint of gardening releases endorphins which help to alleviate stress and its side effects and, of course, the exercise is great for our muscles and bones.  The aesthetic pleasure of watching plants grow and thrive is deeply satisfying.

In addition, it has been discovered that a a strain of bacterium in soil, mycobacterium vacca, has been found to trigger the release of serotonin which can elevate mood and decreases anxiety.  Gardeners are in direct contact with these bacterium while digging in the soil, maybe through minor cuts and scratches in the skin, and, inhaling them as they work. 

The most I’ve been able to achieve is to plant some heather and lavender in a patch of bare ground bordering some steps.  I look forward to spring time when my plan is to set about the window boxes.  I’ll keep you informed.

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