Compost as a Gateway Drug?


 Above: My unfinished compost pile in all of its glory.

(Note on post:  Some of the links to this post are long articles, but are definitely interesting.)

For Christmas this year, I paid for ancestry DNA testing on my two adult kids.  (Each has a different father.)

Any-who (my friend’s expression), one daughter’s results came back today, and she sent them to me—They’re definitely interesting, but not particularly surprising.  She is mostly of European origin with a little native American (22% – her dad’s side) thrown in for fun.

Her long-time boyfriend tells her she needs to look for the women with big feet to find her ancestors.  I think that’s pretty funny, actually.

Most of us already know traits such as hair color, body shape, big feet, and personality to some extent are determined by genetics.

As we go into this “Brave New World” (applicable especially THIS year), scientists seem to discover additional less obvious influences that impact who and what we are and how we behave.

For example, did you know parasites in both animals and humans can affect their personality permanently? Here’s more recent info on the same topic.  (Oh, and you can pick these parasites up from the soil.)

Next, scientists have discovered a link between the microbes in our gut and our brain. Until now, I never would have imagined there was a connection. Maybe you already knew all of this?

What does this have to do with gardening?

My questions are:

Is it possible that, if our ancestors were growers of food and flowers, that there might be a genetic predisposition to gardening?  Is the need to garden in our DNA?  (It’s NOT just that you saw grandma garden, but that you house a gardening gene inside of you, and that’s why you garden.)  Don’t laugh because the longer scientists do research, the more surprising connections they find.

What if eating a lot of broccoli (for example) ultimately influences our desire to garden and now that fewer folks eat broccoli, there are fewer gardeners?


In other words, could there be a link between the plants we consume and our gardening habit that we’re currently unaware of?  Perhaps the fact that we eat so much processed foods has impacted our gardening genes and therefore, the penchant to garden is declining?  Is this actually such a crazy idea?

Or maybe the link is found in the dirt such that once we dig into our soil or compost, the microbes get us hooked, and we become addicted?  (Was it that first load of compost–a.k.a. a gateway drug–hauled in by my husband that caused me to become a gardening addict?)


Above:  Dirt with microbes – Another gateway drug?

Maybe instead of smoking pot, we all need to sniff our soil? (It’s not illegal yet!)  Is this why gardeners are so happy when they are gardening?

Ultimately, what pushes some of us to garden?  Is it ONLY cultural or is there some less obvious cause such as a parasite, the food we eat, genetics, or a combination that influences us to garden?  Your thoughts?

This may not be as far-fetched as it seems.

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