Disease Control Garden Kids

“Clean” Dirt is Good for You!

Have you ever moved to a new place and felt it was “dirty”? I’m talking about the property itself, as well as the dwelling. If you’ve lived a while and have moved around a bit, I’ll bet you know exactly what I mean.

I remember coming to this area of Virginia many years ago and pulling up into the drive of the old house that would be our home for 20 years. My memories of that place from childhood were glowing and wonderful.  But when we pulled in, the house and property seemed “dirty” to me.  So much so, that we spent the night in our truck rather than risk what may have been inside the house.

With some scrubbing and cleaning, even in as bad a shape as it was, (no running water, no heat) the old house felt clean in no time.  Outside, the ground took longer before it seemed “clean”.  But within a year or so, I no longer hesitated to lie down on the earth and take a nap if I felt like it – right in the middle of gardening duties.

The same thing happened at our current residence.

Have You Noticed That Being Out in Your Garden Can Make You Feel Better?

If you’ve been reading TMG for a while, you know that we went through many years of poverty (more than 20) to accomplish our goal of making a living with Bill’s artistic ability.

That part was not enjoyable and there were so many days that things were so bad (including my attitude) that it seemed things would never get better.

I always did what I knew must be done each day, but I was so  glad to get outside whenever I could. It always lifted my spirits no matter how down-in-the-dumps I was. Without fail, I felt better after being out for a while.

I’m happy to report that we are no longer cold and/or hungry.  But we’re still human and have our good and bad days.  Going outside still lifts my spirits and gives me the incentive I need to keep going and striving to accomplish. There’s something about the smell of that “clean” dirt that makes me feel better.

An E-Mail from Heather Tells Me Why

A couple of weeks ago, Heather (a reader) sent me a link to an article that she found fascinating.

The information contained in the article was not new, but it was certainly new to me (and evidently, to Heather). After only a little more research on the subject, I found indication that this “scientific discovery” goes back about a decade.  Science “discovered” what most of us have already experienced.  We just didn’t know the scientific reason for it.  (As with most things involved with the natural world, knowing all the details is not a requirement for getting great results.)

You’ve “heard” me talk of soil microbes and how they help your plants, etc.? Well science “discovered” there is a microbe (a living microscopic creature) in your compost pile and your garden and yard that enters your body when you’re out there walking or gardening. You can even ingest it when you eat carrots or beets pulled from the soil that contain the microbe.  Once you’ve “taken it in” – it boosts (improves) your mood.  It literally functions as an antidepressant pill with nothing but good side effects! Research also indicates that it can improve the ability to learn.

Just so you’ll know, this natural soil bacterium (or microbe) goes by the name of Mycobacterium vaccae.

Moving Away from Nature

Most of our world is moving more and more away from the natural world (or nature). Most think of nature as something that needs fixing or at the least, needs help.   Our society seems so brainwashed that most think it impossible to live without a doctor and drugs.  Most have totally loss the ability to listen to their body.

The basic laws of health and the simple things one can do to increase, improve or regain good health are all but lost to most. Marketing and promotion by the chemical companies along with big agribusiness and the medical profession has been largely instrumental in helping people think this way. It’s become a way of life. ( And although I’m sure there are some well meaning folks along the path, it’s all been done mostly in the name of making more money rather than in the interest of making people healthy.)

The Hygiene Hypothesis

I find the change in behavior patterns of kids really amazing.  For thousands of years kids loved and played in the outdoors.  In these “modern” times, kids who play outdoors all the time are in the minority.

You’ve probably heard the term “hygiene hypothesis”.  A hypothesis is an opinion or conclusion that has been arrived at without firm evidence.

In the medical field, the hygiene hypothesis states that a lack of childhood exposure to microorganisms (like those that come from playing in the dirt)  suppress the natural development of the immune system.  Sounds pretty much right-on to me.

If you do your own research on our immune system and what it’s capable of, you might be pleasantly surprised or even amazed.  (One tip — careful about reading “facts” given by any industry that is pretty much controlled by and locked into the chemical industry. The definition for a fact is “a thing that is indisputably the case.”  What chemical companies call facts are very seldom real facts.)

Final Thoughts

We need to keep clean, of course.  Washing our hands after using the bathroom, daily bathing and cleaning, being careful with how we store our food, and other basic laws of good hygiene need to be adhered to if we’re to be healthy.  This is a common sense way to prevent many diseases before they get started.

But when we and/or our children have an opportunity to get out in the fresh air and “play” in the good “clean” dirt, it is one of the best things we can do for our overall well-being and good health – both future and present.


Suggested Related Reading:

Organic Gardening Magazine – Universal Principles – Helping Yourself

Recognizing the Importance of the Food You Eat

Organic on a Large Scale – Does it work?

Quick Fixes – Recipe for Failure/Nature –Recipe for Success

A Reader Helps Again – Careful What You Believe – Marketed Reality or Real

Organic gardening is easy, efficient, effective — and it’s a lot healthier.


All content including photos is copyright by TendingMyGarden.com.  All Rights Reserved.


  • Another great article.
    I got your book already. Looks great. Can’t wait to get to read it.

  • I absolutely love this post! I had NO IDEA about the microorganisms in the compost. That must be why you are so happy and healthy looking, Theresa! I’m going to have to have a talk with my cold pile…

  • Thanks for this fascinating information about the soil bacteria–isn’t it amazing when you find a concrete reason for something you already “know”? I really enjoyed this post!

  • Theresa, you may be interested to know (in case you don’t already) about “Nature Deficit Disorder,” a term coined by Richard Louv (see his website for more info). As a former teacher and school administrator, and having lived on a farm all my life, I have to say he’s right on. As are you! It concerns me greatly that so many children are growing up with little to no experiences in the great outdoors. Without it, they truly have numerous deficits.

  • Thanks Jack!
    Made me laugh Bearfoot Mama!
    Yes, Betty – it is amazing. Seems like I’ve spent the entire year finding
    concrete reasons for things I already “know”.

    Thank you for bring this up Irene. I had wanted to address it in this post but it got too long, so opted not to.
    I agree with you 100% — he is indeed right-on. (The obvious never seems to be enough proof for many.)
    Thank you so much for your comment! Appreciate it very much.

  • Great article. Received your book yesterday and was greatly surprised…You autographed it!!! Got the first 50 pages read and really enjoy it so far. The snow is now gone from my raised beds and plan on getting them cleaned up an ready to go starting tomorrow. I’m so excited that spring is here, I wet my plants. 🙂

  • Glad you received the book and have read 50 pages already Ed. Keep me posted on how you like the rest.
    Happy to hear your snow is gone. I think it disappeared a bit earlier than you had anticipated. All of us, I think, are happy to get out and get started in the garden!
    Good hearing from you Ed. Thanks for taking time to comment and – for the smile.

  • Theresa,

    I really loved this article. I have only done preliminary research in this area and have learned a little about what you write about here. This is the first I’ve heard that the microbes in good live soil help fight depression.

    It’s not surprising to discover this. It really fits well with everything else we are learning about the gut and such. For example, 95% of the serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter) that is found in the human body, is made in the gut. The vagus nerve connects the gut to the brain (among other things) and 2 way communication takes place by this nerve. Long story short, happy gut, happy brain.

    Good live, organic soil by helping the gut microbiota will then help the brain. I should have put 2 and 2 together before reading this, but we all learn differently. (smile : ) Thanks for the post! Keep up the great work!

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