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Tend your Soul as you Tend your Soil

Have you put your hands in the dirt yet this year? Whether it’s a tomato plant, a seed packet or some starter flowers, the time is upon us to plant. And while flowers nicely prepared in a basket or prearranged herb pots look adorable, I highly recommend that you get some of that soil under your fingernails (and between your toes while you’re at it.)

Summertime isn’t just for fireflies and ice cream trucks, it’s also the time to dig up some ground. Now you may have any number of good reasons to not try planting and you may have tried before and discovered you don’t have a green thumb, but let me tell you a secret: none of us does. Any gardener who’s been at it long will tell you that anything over 50% is a good plant survival ratio.

And do you know one of the first things we are told to do in the Bible? “The LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Genesis 2:15 According to Strong’s Dictionary Concordance the Hebrew word translated ‘tend’ means to work, till, cultivate. And the word for ‘keep’ means to hedge around something, to guard and keep safe. There is something intrinsic to our being that happens when we move dirt around in a meaningful way.

And I’m not merely talking about soul satisfaction. Recent research finds many benefits to having contact with dirt, including: a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, has been found to trigger the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety, this bacterium also improves cognitive function, and possibly even treats cancer and other diseases. According to Mary O’Brien, an oncologist at Royal Marsden Hospital in London, she first stumbled upon these findings while inoculating lung cancer patients with a strain of M. vaccae (pronounced “emm vah-kay”) to see if their symptoms improved. She noticed that in addition to fewer cancer symptoms, patients also demonstrated an improvement in emotional health, vitality, and even cognitive function.” Read the full TherapeuticLandscapesNetwork blog post at: http://www.healinglandscapes.org/blog/2011/01/its-in-the-dirt-bacteria-in-soil-makes-us-happier-smarter/

And here’s another dirty secret: it’s even more important for our kids! According to the National Wildlife Federation, playing in the soil does more than make your child happy, it builds the immune system. Check out this article: http://www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Be%20Out%20There/Dirt_Report_2012.ashx

So what’s stopping you? Don’t worry about having all the right tools, just get out and dig a little.

I’d love to hear what you do with this challenge. Please go back to the home page and leave a comment; let me know what you’re planting or how you're getting dirty ; )

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