I Love The Smell of Geosmin In The Morning

This is the first day of March where the temperature reached 50 degrees fahrenheit. It would be the warmest day of the year if it weren’t for that brief and freakish warm spell back in January.

handful of soil

We also got some rain yesterday, which is good because the containers planted with bulbs were drying out.

The moisture and mildness in the air have lent a new credibility to assertions that spring has arrived. The softness in the soil also promises good things.

Which leads me to an interesting post I just saw on the blog Soils Matter. It’s about geosmin, the organic compound that gives fresh soil its distinctive smell – which is particularly noticeable in spring. Geosmin is released by bacteria in the soil called actinomycetes.

actinomycetes
Actinomycetes are made up of tiny filaments. 

Have you noticed that we also get that fresh soil smell when it rains? The rainwater temporarily displaces the air in the soil. When that happens,  the air floats upward, carrying geosmin with it.

Anyhow, I thought this was interesting. If you want to know more, check out the Soil Matters blog.

35 Comments on “I Love The Smell of Geosmin In The Morning

  1. We’ve had a little bit of rain lately (not nearly as much as we need) and the smell of the soil after rain is a joy…..autumn planting has begun!

  2. I didn’t know this was what I have smelled so many times. I sometimes crave that smell especially after a drought time in the garden. It is like the perfume of manna for the garden and the soul.

  3. Believe it or not, I was thinking of this the other day when a warm day released the smell of mud, not quite as nice as the smell of fresh dirt. However, it is a sign of spring in our northern climate, and I associate it with warmer days to come.

  4. A new word. Interesting info and to think the earthy smell is put out by those little pink filaments.

  5. I’d not heard of geosmin – very interesting. We hit 10C a couple of days ago – I was able to work outside for a couple of hours clearing some straw off the beds & it was such a good feeling.

    • It was nice yesterday but we’re going through a cold snap again that just started today. The water in the birdbath this morning was covered with ice.

  6. Very interesting! I love the smell of fresh earth, especially in the springtime, but I thought it just seemed more noticeable because of not being able to play in the dirt all winter!

  7. A nice coincidence. I am currently writing a book about a kid’s memories. Included is a section on the smell, as he says, of rain on dust. Thanks for giving me the word.

  8. Just catching up here, Jason. I love the words geosmin and petrichor. And thanks for the link to Soils Matter. I am following them now, too.

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