Some of my favourite scents – Petrichor – my inner greenie comes out
11th September 2014
I don’t know about you lot, but I know with me I love a good rainstorm. With thunder and lightning makes me even happier.
But it’s once the rain has stopped pouring down and you step outside and take a deep breath and enjoy the scent of geosmin that makes it all the more better.
I love science. I really do. And the above cartoon explains why girls run away from me too. Although if I have rope in my hand apparently they run straight for me (or so say the blisters on my fingers from rope burn…)
That’s beside the point however. What I wanted to point out today was how awesome nature is.
The smell that we all think is beautiful and grounding? It is. It’s basically the interaction between rain and the soil that releases volatile compounds into the air. Soil microorganisms make it then release it into the soil when they die. But it’s not until it rains that geosmin is aerosolised and wafts up our noses.
Our bodies have evolved to be highly sensitive to geosmin and can pick up a few molecules a trillion. Why? Because where there’s geosmin, there’s water. Think of early humans searching for a drink in a parched landscape and you understand why having a nose for geosmin is important for our survival.
Did you also know that how you garden affects your carbon footprint? If you turn the earth too much you release all the carbon that it is storing which is usually released a wee bit after the rains anyway to make them available for the microorganisms.
“It’s important to know that people’s gardens have an impact on the carbon cycle,” she says, recommending gardeners boost the organic content of their soils by adding compost, or shredding and spreading healthy plant clippings or prunings around the backyard.
Adding carbon this way also improves the soil’s ability to hold moisture, she says, meaning less watering is necessary.
Another tip is to avoid unnecessary digging in the garden, she says, a practice borrowed from no-till farming. Overworking the soil, she says, not only disturbs its structure but affects its ability to hold onto its carbon.
“How people garden impacts on carbon in the atmosphere, an important driver of climate change,” she says.
“I don’t think we’re aware that soil is such an important bank of carbon. We all think about trees and forests. Soil is a little less sexy.”
I sometimes wish I had a garden so I could start a compost heap, some herbs and build some of those wall gardens. I also found this cute thing that you can do with broken pots by making them into little towns or fairy hovels… I want to build terrariums however I haven’t yet found a plant that doesn’t die when it sees me approaching. Which is unfortunate. I do love nature, but sometimes she doesn’t love me back.
I am hoping to have a spare moment to write to you guys about my last foray into Texas before leaving the States because I know some of you are dying to hear how I nearly killed myself and took 10 years off Daddy’s life. But life is getting a wee bit hectic leading up to exams so am hoping I’ll have it up in the next week or so.