When you’re out in the garden, do you ever slow down and smell the earth? Like sink your hands in the dirt, squeeze it between your finger tips, and smell that rich earthy quality of the dirt? Researchers have found it might be good for both your mind and body – improving learning behavior and mood. A natural soil bacterium, mycobacterium vaccae, which is likely ingested by breathing in while being out in the garden, or even by eating produce from the garden, was shown to activate neurons in the brain and curb the inflammatory reaction typical of many allergies.

Our noses, which can distinguish over 1 trillion different smells, can be a great ally in the garden, allowing us to enjoy fresh flowers, fragrant herbs, distinguish when things are ripe (or overripe), and now even improve our mood. So what are you waiting for? Get out and smell the dirt next time you’re in the garden.

Cover Image by Danny Nicholson, used under its Creative Commons license.

[Got a Tip?] If you have a tip to share with your fellow urban farmers, let us know at tips@youngurbanfarmers.comWant More Tips? Browse our Tips Archive for more.