024 - Biophilia, The Gardeners High, And The Immune System With Anne Biklé

Feeding soil microbes, creating an urban garden sanctuary, and how it’s related to our health - through a biologists eyes. 

Anne is a biologist, an author and an avid gardener. She co-wrote The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health with her husband David Montgomery, who was our guest in the previous episode. Her interests and expertise have led her into environmental planning, public health and watershed restoration.  

Join us as Anne shares a bit of her journey, and the insights she’s gained from building soil in her garden. She shares about her case of “plant lust” and how she’s started noticing the diversity of insects in her garden.

Though Anne touches on the immune system briefly, we focus on gardening in this episode, mostly because I’m also a fanatical gardener. I may have acquired a case of the “gardeners high” Anne refers to just by talking about gardening…

Enjoy this delightful conversation with Anne Biklé.


Website: dig2grow.com

Twitter: @dig2grow

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Early Life

- developed a case of “plant lust” in childhood, viewed green things growing as magical

- both of her parents had an interest in putting in landscape that was tailored to the Colorado climate



Love for Nature

- “biophilia”, term coined by EO Wilson, meaning: we have an innate need to connect with nature, innately know that to harm nature is wrong

- Anne decided to grow food for insects, to see what kinds she could draw into her garden

- observing a mini-ecosystem within your own backyard

- all life forms are connected to each other; when we forget this, we begin to allow ourselves to do harmful things



Educational Background

- studied Natural History, a branch of biology

- later developed an interest in microbial biology



Perceptions of Nature

- Anne aims to draw biology in around her in her everyday life as much as possible

- “gardener’s high”, losing track of time when around plants

- there is mystery to explore behind the natural forces and elements e.g. soil

- soil is dark coloured, which has negative connotations for many people

- we also can’t see the life in the soil at a glance so it appears dead to the naked eye

- soil is the land equivalent of the sea; most life on earth dwells in the soil

- there’s evidence for a bacterium in healthy soil that can affect our mood positively



At Anne’s Place

- they had some terrible soil

- laid wood chips on top of the garden beds

- scattered lots of coffee grounds into the soil

- Anne & David realised that you can make soil, you don’t need to import it in

- anyone can make soil, if you have the inclination and the materials



Bokashi Compost & the Immune System

- soil has a metabolism, just like our gut

- Bokashi can be made full of things that make the soil a bad place for pathogens to survive

- our immune system is made up of many specialised cells (that become immune tissue) that live right next to our stomach & intestines - especially our large intestine

- a person with gut problems likely also has an issue with their immune system

- if the microbiome takes a hit, the immune system doesn’t have the info it needs to know how to look after the person, and may start seeing problems where there isn’t one = autoimmune conditions

- your gut and soil are very similar & both need to be “mulched”

- the microbiome is made up of trillions of organisms that are alive and need to be fed

- eating a diverse diet, especially diverse plant foods, feeds the maximum amount of your microbiota, and keeps the diversity in your gut alive


Website: dig2grow.com

Twitter: @dig2grow

Facebook: dig2growbooks




Ben Klenner