Gardening has so many known benefits: fresh vegetables and/or flowers, visual appeal, excellent exercise, fresh air, great for the bees, butterflies and birds, etc.
Even houseplants apparently filter indoor air, cutting down on inhaled irritants. Doctors recommended them for asthma patients (provided their asthma is not triggered by any flowers or other parts of the plant.)
And I just learned something else, which is interesting to me as a gardener, a sufferer of SAD, and as a one-time microbiology major. This is only one study, but it provides one possibility as to why gardening -- maybe even just with indoor houseplants -- can cheer up a person.
Other Benefits of Bacteria in The Dirt
I would like to know what the researchers consider to be an immune system imbalance. My allergies, asthma and eczema result from a hyperactive immune system and I'd say that's an imbalance. I have an older sister with SLE or lupus, which is an autoimmune disorder (the body's immune system attacks the body). A definite and debilitating imbalance.
Just for interest to those of us who like gardening, here's the soil test results for the community gardens where I rent my plot:
Summer 2006 Soil Test Results. Recommendations by Professor Pete Feretti (Penn State).
(1) Magnesium (Mgo): Below optimum. Apply epsom salts (mg504). 3lbs./100 square feet. This can be applied now. Garden center retailers sell 3 lb. for about $2. Magnesium is the hub of the photosynthesis molecule.
(2) Soil ph: Below optimum. Apply 5 lbs./100 square feet ground limestone at the end of the gardening season, if you plan to keep your garden next year. It is best to use ground limestone that contains some magnesium (i.e. Dolomitic limestone).
(3) Phosphate (P2O5); Potash (K2O); and Calcium (CaO) were "optimum".
(4) Nitrogen was not tested; general recommendations: Apply 0.5 lbs./100 square feet of UREA, or equivalent amount of another nitrogen provider.
This soil test was from samples taken in the paths of the garden area. So it provides a general analysis. Perhaps gardeners will want to test their own plots next season.
Thanks to Marion R. Deppen of the Tudek Community Garden Coordinating Committee
Lightning strikes also add nitrogen to the soil. Just a little fact. Interesting to know, but not practical.
Here's an aerial photo of the plots, taken in late winter 2006-2007:
My plot is the second row from the right. It's a little more than halfway up the row from bottom of photo; the ridges are my raised beds. The dot in the upper left corner must be my compost bin. This shows it closer: