After reading Jeff Lowenfel’s book, co-authored with Wayne Lewis; Teaming with Microbes-The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, I’ve never looked at soil the same way again. What we do to it either fosters the life below the surface that sustains our plants, or destroys it. For years, I was doing the latter. Listen to the podcasts to see if you were too.
I’ll be the first to tell you, I love all gardening books. Sure, there are likely too many books being published that cover basically the same topics, such as perennials, container gardens or even the most popular topic of all these days; organic gardening. And yet I still manage to find at least something useful in all of them. And once in a great while, you have a breakthrough book — one that is so unique and of such value to the gardening community and beyond, it deserves to stand out from the pack and bask in the limelight for the recognition it merits.
After twice reading Teaming with Microbes; The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web (Revised Edition), by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis, I knew I had found such a book. It is now impossible to look at soil the same way again. I have always appreciated the importance and benefits of healthy soil, but until this book, truly understanding the symbiotic relationship between plants and what takes place beneath the surface has been left more to the imagination. The authors have done a wonderful job bringing to life through easy to follow words and amazing images, the living world of soil.
Now, more than ever before, I understand the interdependence of the literally billions of microscopic fungi and bacteria along with the multitudes of other soil-dwelling creatures that make up what is known as the soil food web. When this web is in balance, plant life thrives because the soil is providing every resource and nutrient needed.
This book has been instrumental in helping me and countless others to clearly understand this delicate and necessary balance and how easily we can disrupt it, principally by excessive use of chemicals, especially synthetic fertilizers. The authors explain how even rototilling can have an adverse affect on the balance of a healthy web. Just in case you never thought you could see yourself reading a book about dirt, think again. This book will do as much or more to improve your gardening skills than any other book on the market. It has had a profound impact on how I garden and I believe it will for you too.
Not only will your garden be healthier, you’ll be doing your part to promote a more eco-friendly environment too. Lowenfels and Lewis go into easy to comprehend explanations on how healthy soil is alive and how it suffers and even dies when over zealous gardeners unknowingly desiccate living soil organisms with salt- laden chemicals. The end result is what amounts to unsustainable, life ending ‘dirt’. You will be empowered after reading this book and will likely never garden the same way again. Buy it, read it and encourage every other gardener you know to do the same. This book can literally change the behavior of anyone who uses chemicals in their garden.
I have to admit, I was feeling quite haughty when a parent of my daughter’s friend asked me if I was reading a medical book as we sat in the stands during a recent basketball practice. “No I said. This is far more interesting. It’s all about what goes on in the soil. It’s a real page turner!” And indeed it is.
This podcast episode was made possible thanks to the support of the Mulch & Soil Council. If you want to know that the bagged mulch or soil that you’re buying is free of unacceptable contaminants, such as arsenic from pressure treated wood, make sure that it has the certification seal on the bag. Learn more at their website; mulchandsoilcouncil.org.
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