Consider adding a digging bed to your existing garden. Maybe you’re asking, “What is a digging bed? Don’t we dig in all of the beds?” Well, yes, but a designated digging bed is a bed that is never planted, but provides an open, yet contained area for digging in the soil.
It can be a station in your garden routine, a place for students who are struggling with self-control to work out their frustrations and reset, or just a quiet place for a student to explore the sensory wonders of soil. You may even want to hide small treasures for students to find as they explore in the digging bed.
If you don’t have an unplanted bed, a fabric raised bed can be an inexpensive alternative to set aside for digging.
Benefits of Digging in the Soil
- Friendly soil bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae trigger the release of serotonin which can improve mood and reduce anxiety and depression. (Source)
- Digging is a natural form of exercise that reduces muscle tension and lowers blood pressure. (Gardening for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Special Education Needs, by Natasha Etherington)
- “Digging is a good activity for children with aggressive tendencies, agitation and mood swings. It will tire them out and allow them to take out their frustration on the earth.” (Gardening for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Special Education Needs, by Natasha Etherington)
- Digging encourages curiosity and connection with nature. “Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health (and also, by the way, in our own).” (Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv)
- “Spare time in the garden, either digging, setting out, or weeding; there is no better way to preserve your health.” (Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv)
- “Nature is often overlooked as a healing balm for the emotional hardships in a child’s life.” (Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv)
- Digging in the soil is fun! (observed, Amy Bowman)
Fun Facts about Soil
- There are four basic components of soil: organic material, inorganic material, air and water.
- Organic materials include decomposed insects and other invertebrates as well as decaying plant material.
- Inorganic materials are sand, silt and clay.
- There are between 20 million and 2 billion bacteria per teaspoon of soil.
- Soil has a pH value, which means it may be acidic, neutral, or alkaline.