Saturday, June 6, 2009

Staking Out the Beans

Yesterday, I planted two rows (16 plants total) of pole beans, staked them and labeled the rows, and mulched around them. Additionally, I put up part of my garden fence (once I finish planting, I'll finish enclosing the garden.

Those two little rows wore me out so much that I went into the guest bedroom, flopped on my back on the bed, and took a zombie nap for a couple of hours. I was completely non-functional the rest of the evening.

Today, I managed to get out, plant two rows of soup beans (Lina Cisco's Bird Egg and Irish Creek Annie)--about 8 plants each), staked them, and watered the whole garden. That was enough for the evening.

At this rate, I might actually have my entire garden planted by August 1. [sigh]

Anyway, I planted today in my bare feet. Yes, people, I ignored my mother's advice from my childhood about not running around the yard without something on my feet and planted my toes in the grass and soil. The grass was soft and silky and cool as it caressed my soles; the dirt rough and rocky and...painful. Despite the pain, I managed to plant the two rows of beans before putting shoes back on for the staking. So why even bother to tend the garden with tender tootsies?


Microbes? Why would I want to capture microbes with my feet? The answer: for better health.

I know, it sounds counter-intuitive. We're supposed to avoid bugs at all costs, according to social norms. We're supposed to antibacterialize and disinfect our homes to avoid breathing in a single bacterium. That's supposed to be healthy.

But it's not. In fact, our urge to over-clean everything just may be at the root of several illnesses, not the least of which include an increased incidence in asthma, allergies, and autoimmune disorders. A review of the "hygiene hypothesis," by Fernando D. Martinez from the University of Arizona Respiratory Sciences Center lends credibility to the hypothesis that lack of exposure to microbes in childhood may result in allergies and other conditions. When a person is exposed to microbes, the body works to develop immunity toward those microbes--in a sense, the microbes act a bit like a vaccination. When a person isn't exposed to these microbes, the body doesn't have a chance to develop an immunity, and therefore may react allergically to these microbes when exposed to them later in life.

So...I'm inviting microbes in. How about you?

1 comment:

Sean Murphy said...

Yes, microbes are good. There are also some studies from northern Europe that show almost nonexistant rates of asthma in farm kids and folks who grew up on farms. With all kinds of other possible causes ruled out, the farm germs seem to get the credit.
An entirely different discussion arises from our society's newly obsessive use of antibacterial substances as the breeding ground for "super bugs."