Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why Composting Makes Me Happy

I've worried once or twice that I have an unnatural affinity toward my compost heaps. To don a pair of oversized boots and tramp to the back corner of the yard with a bucket of kitchen scraps, to dig a shallow hole in the actively decaying mound of debris known as Pile #1, to empty the bucket into the hole, to cover it with shovelsful of already rotten and rich compost from Pile #2, and to sift some of the sweet-smelling stuff through my fingers is a process that gives me pleasure.

Often I hold the new bits of earth in my hands and breathe. It smells of fresh summer rain, no matter the season. In Georgia, where we don't get many freezes, composting is a year-round sport. Never mind the satisfaction that comes with using the finished product in the garden, it's enough just to smell it, and of course to marvel at the earth's graceful housekeeping system.

Templeton Himself
Heretofore I've assumed the pleasure came from knowing I was contributing to the greater good of the environment. Then comes this bit of scientific research from Gardening Know How, via childhood friend David Cutrell:

Who knew that microbes in the soil have an intense antidepressant effect on the human brain?  What a relief to know there is scientific reason behind my reliance on playing in the dirt as the best mood-lifter going. Explains a lot. dkm


Jane Robertson said...

I love compost too - and I didn't know anything about this suggested anti-depressant effect. I think, for me, the magic - and therefore pleasure - lies in the transformation from one substance to another, albeit related. A little bit of alchemy, sort of. Except that I chuck everything into my heaps, including very big stuff (laziness) so the piles always have trouble breaking down uniformly.

Have decided that, when I feed the chooks in the morning, I will include compost-sniffing in my routine ;-)

dkm said...

Haha! Compost sniffers anonymous.