by Sandra Kaptain, EGG350.org
I would like to share again my ‘love of dirt’—aka SOIL. Hard to say where this first started-growing up in a Michigan neighborhood that had farms, including my grandfathers small veggie farm, or gardening with Mom, and of course, before this, my sister and I doing our ‘baking’ with our sandy, light colored soil and with the neighbor’s darker soil, so we could make ‘marble’ cakes! Or maybe all of the above!
Early on I discovered all the bugs, beetles, worms and caterpillars that kids like. I do not like caterpillars now, but i know they are part of the cycle of life; no caterpillars, no butterflies! And I hate tomato hornworms, even though they produce beautiful moths. We’ve had a few in our garden the last two years! They got parasitized, though.
When I went to college and majored in Bio. Sci., I worked part time as a work study person in a lab and helped maintain the mold collections a professor had. One astounding discovery was a black threadlike mold that had long slender fibers and smelled exactly like rich black garden soil! That was a fantastic discovery for a young bio. sci. student. I knew nothing about molds at the time.
Since Dave and I have visited many National Parks and love to do day hiking, we have had lots of opportunities to compare soils in different places. The soil in Zion National Park was red! Most of the dirt where I grew up was light sandy soil. The black/brown soils of the midwest seem to be the best. I think they are the richest in microbial and organic life.
It is so amazing what you can find in your own yard at times. Last summer after a rainy season, we had an area of bark chips covering part of the path in front of the woodsy area behind us. I was checking things out to see if I needed to do more weeding, when I discovered an amazing array of tiny mushrooms no larger than about one-half inch across. They were covering the bark chips. There were 2-3 different kinds, and when I looked them up I found out they call them simply ‘LBMs’ little brown mushrooms! Nice easy name to remember!
They were beautiful. I’m looking for a reappearance of these after all the rain we have had recently! None this year.
We are growing a small area of large prairie flowers in front of our house. This garden area has butterflies every day, along with bees, ants, and pests like slugs, along with a few weeds! But the daisies, coneflowers, phlox, are all beautiful and will be full of color for the rest of the summer. I keep some asiatic day lilies even tho, a kind friend told me that it was a ‘weed’! But it has the brightest blue color, and now has a place in my garden!
Like one of our EGG350 members Dale S. says, he can always go out into his garden and start working or just walking around and his mood will always get way better. Same for me, even just walking in a small woodsy area. Researchers say it is a real therapy, and that there are possibly chemicals in the air under trees that are good for us and you can do a ‘forest bath’ in them—but clothes are recommended so you don’t become a meal for the bugs! Go for a walk in the woods! And smell the dirt!