HOW DIRT MAKES YOU HAPPY  
                      by Bonnie L. Grant
Prozac may not be the only way to get rid of your serious blues. Soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain, without side effects and chemical dependency. Learn how to harness the natural antidepressant in soil and make yourself happier and healthier.

Natural remedies have been around for centuries. These include cures for almost any physical ailment as well as mental and emotional afflictions. Ancient healers may not have known why something worked, but simply that it did. Modern scientists have unraveled the “why” of many medicinal plants and practices but only recently are they finding remedies that were previously unknown and yet still a part of the natural life cycle. Soil microbes and human health now have a positive link which has been studied and found to be verifiable 

Soil Microbes & Human Health
Did you know there’s a natural antidepressant in soil? It’s true. The bacterium is found in soil, and may stimulate serotonin production which makes you relaxed and happier. The substance under study has been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. Serotonin has been linked to problems such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar problems. The bacterium appears to be a natural antidepressant found in soil, with no adverse health effects, and may be as easy to use as just playing in the dirt.

Most avid gardeners will tell you that their landscape is their “happy place” and the physical act of gardening is in itself a stress reducer and mood lifter. The presence of a soil bacteria antidepressant is not a surprise to many of us who have experienced the phenomenon ourselves. Backing it up with science is fascinating, but not shocking, to the happy gardener.

Studies were conducted on cancer patients and they reported a better quality of life and less stress. Antidepressant microbes in soil are also being investigated for improving cognitive function, Crohn’s disease and even rheumatoid arthritis.

So… How Does Dirt Make You Happy?
Antidepressant microbes in soil cause cytokine levels to rise, which results in the production of higher levels of serotonin. Gardeners inhale these bacteria, have topical contact with it and may get it into their bloodstreams through a cut or other pathway for infection. Test results have shown increased cognitive ability, lower stress and better concentration. It is claimed the natural effects of the soil bacteria antidepressant can be felt for up to 3 weeks. So get out in the garden, play in the dirt and improve your mood and your life!

PATCH WORK     How to garden in a small space

Since moving into a retirement village, Scott has adapted to low maintenance gardening in a small space, and he reckons it’s easy to manage. He has established a very productive vegie patch by setting up styrofoam boxes and large pots on benches, planted with herbs, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbages, kale, broccoli, and strawberries. He says a small elevated garden like this is perfect for elderly people who may have blood pressure and back problems, as there is no bending involved and it’s easy to maintain and water your plants.

Scott has also created a colourful garden in a small and sunny 9m by 3m space in front of his unit which he’s filled with some favourite daylilies potted up with sun-loving companion plants such as vincas & petunias, as well as begonias, pentas, ixora, New Guinea impatiens, pansies & snapdragons planted in the ground. It just goes to show that even if you only have limited space available you can still have an easy to maintain flower garden, and enjoy picking fresh produce from your own little vegie patch. 

This is Scott’s recipe for success:
If you would like to try this method, you should be able to obtain styrofoam boxes from your local grocery store or supermarket. They often have pre-cut holes in the base of the box, but if not you will need to cut some drainage holes. Put a thick layer of newspaper in the bottom of the box, add a 50mm layer of budget potting mix, then a 50mm layer of good garden soil – this adds beneficial soil microbes. I also add worm compost, peat moss, a tablespoon of slow release fertiliser (like Osmocote) plus a small handful of Dynamic Lifter pellets, and mix thoroughly. Top up the boxes with good quality potting mix, such as Searle’s Premium. This makes a really good balanced mix. Once the boxes are planted up, regular watering is essential, plus every 2 weeks I add fish & seaweed solution (like Seasol) and I also apply “worm pee” as it’s very beneficial.
 

SHED SOME LIGHT     Knitting For Brisbane’s Needy

In the September 2014 newsletter we mentioned our involvement with this charity group last year. In November we were delighted to witness the arrival of their much needed storage shed, generously donated by Scott, to assist them with their tireless work in helping the needy.

After a delayed Grand Opening of the storage shed, courtesy of Cyclone Marcia, we had the official event on Friday 17th April and Scott duly performed the opening ceremony on a glorious sunny morning – coincidentally one day before his 75th birthday! Members of the widespread K4BN knitting groups travelled from all over SE Qld to attend the opening of the storage shed, and Scott spent a happy couple of hours chatting to many of the ladies - and men! -  who make up this wonderful group of mostly retired people who regularly get together for a Knit’n’Natter and combine their efforts to help the needy in many different ways, such as knitting warm clothes and making up bags of toiletries for the homeless

Next year will see K4BN celebrate their 10th anniversary, and Mountain View Daylily Nursery will continue to support them in their ventures. They now hope to secure a suitable vehicle to help them with transporting the donated goods etc. If you can help in any way, large or small, please contact us at daylily@bigpond.com and we will put you in touch with them.  You can learn more about K4BN at http://www.knittingforbrisbanesneedy.com.au
 

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