The last few weeks we have been super busy digging, hauling (dirt, sand, aggregate, and mulch), and planting. Thanks to my son for starting the hole where the rowboat will be installed, Jamie’s son and husband for expanding the hole, and Mary’s son for (almost) finishing the hole. There was a whole lot of dirt in that hole!
I believe I’ve already consumed enough dirt this past month to cover the next couple of years. I know, I know, as a horticulturist I should say “soil” not “dirt” but my clothes are full of dirt, even my nostrils and ears are full of dirt from the constant wind at Avery Point and all the digging we’ve been doing. There is a saying that we all eat a peck of dirt before we die. Farmers say we should eat a pound of dirt a year for good health. In some cultures, people eat dirt for its mineral nutrients (clay soils) and for self-vaccination against some disease. Lord knows there are a lot of bacterial strains in soil. Some say that’s why kids instinctively eat dirt but it’s still rather alarming to see your toddler put a handful of the stuff in their mouth.
I’m not too keen on ingesting soil these days, especially with all of the contaminants we put on and around our plants in most urban areas . . . pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, etc. We spray so much toxic stuff that it is “literally” sickening. I’ll try and stay off my soap-box about bioaccumulation and pervasiveness in the environment but let’s just stop this practice please, especially since I’m one of the ones eating it.
Playspaces for children should be pesticide-free so our children don’t have to worry about ingesting chemicals. I’ve always told my son that dirt isn’t dirty, it’s the germs he brings home from school that cause sickness. I think washing your hands after being in public spaces is a higher priority than washing them after a bout of nature, but then again, I use organic growing practices. Children love to get dirty not “soil-y” and that is their right as children—let them be filthy little nature urchins!
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had children visit the garden and they love it! Tiffany, a dedicated Coast Guard volunteer, and mother, brought her children for a day of gardening. She and her girls helped me plant and mulch sedum around the waterfall. Tiffany had brought little gardening gloves for each of them. They even did some planting, hauling hoses and helping give the tour to the Grasso Tech students that showed up to check on the progress. Those gloves were off “lickety-split” though, once it was play-time. They ran, they rolled, they splashed, and they delighted in dirty hands and feet. Success!