Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Super Organic Gardener

The Super Organic Gardener by Matthew Appleby is a new gardening tutorial guide aimed at making home gardening a more gentle pursuit by avoiding animal based amendments and products in the organic garden. The author makes a passionate argument for working ethically in tandem with the biome to produce food and not exploiting animals or supporting animal farming.

It's clear from reading recent headlines that food safety is impacted and we're at risk of pathogen infections from improperly sterilized compost during growing. E. coli, salmonella, clostridium, listeria and others are potentially borne on garden produce.  The methods outlined in this book won't eliminate all risks of foodborne pathogen transmission, but they do go a ways toward reducing the risks (as long as we produce our own food or source it from reliable providers who also refrain from using animal based soil amendments).

The book progresses from an argument for moving away from animal based fertilizers, through soil building with alternate products. There are sections covering container and raised bed gardening. A large proportion of the page content is devoted to a discussion of soil and how to build it up. There is a nice chapter on plant selection which is pertinent even to growers who don't have philosophical reasons for avoiding manure, blood and bone in their gardens. There is also a nice list of suppliers and sources, slanted toward UK readers.

If I had to choose one word to describe this book/philosophy it would be 'holistic'. We can't expect to knock one part of our biome out of whack without having (possibly profound) effects on other parts.  We kill bad bugs, we're also killing good bugs, with the possible follow on effect of starving the species which predate on the bugs, which means the species which need the birds to survive move on (or die).

We desperately need to learn to live in harmony with our environment or we're all going to harvest untold misery.

Gardeners are some of the most practical people I've met.  I feared this book would be, frankly, full of 'woo'. It's not.  The author makes a compelling argument for both plant based diets and for moving away from the use of animal based products.  I will be implementing some practical methods from the book in my own garden.

Four stars. He makes a lot of good points.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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