The idea of organic gardening seems like a no-brainer, but the intricacies of treating your plants in a sustainable manner can be a bit confusing. That’s why I was glad to see the book Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally.
Chock full of solid, useful information on growing organically, as well as the science behind growing naturally, the book gives you everything you need to enjoy a healthy garden.
Author Mark Highland owns and operates The Organic Mechanic Soil Company. He has an academic background in environmental horticulture and has consulted with the EPA, which makes him the perfect person to explain the basics and principles of gardening organically.
The book features a great chapter on soil that covers the science and composition of soil, as well as the importance of soil testing and soil pH. There’s even a handy illustration of a plant stem with leaves showing how various deficiencies show up on foliage. For instance, an iron deficiency presents as pale leaves with no spotting and dark green major veins.
The chapter on organic fertilizers and amendments discusses the basics, as well as specifics, of feeding and amending your plants and garden. You’ll learn how to build a compost pile and how to brew aerobic compost tea for use on plants. Brewing the tea reduces the potential of harmful bacteria growth in the tea. The benefits of mulching and how to mulch are also discussed in this chapter.
Highland also has a lot of good ideas for what he calls “water-smart gardening.” This includes installing and using rain barrels and micro irrigation systems and when and how much to water.
No organic gardening book would be complete without a chapter on fighting pests and diseases the natural and organic way. Highland explains the disease triangle, which is the host (plant), environmental conditions (such as damp and moist) and the disease-causing agent or organism (such as fungal disease). His explanation helps demystify how plants begin to ail, so that the gardener can effectively deal with the issues that caused problems in the first place.
The thorough book also has plenty of information on growing a prolific garden. This includes propagating plants and collecting your own seed. You’ll learn how to successfully start seed indoors and how to sow seeds directly outdoors in the garden.
You’ll also find a great section on container gardening, as well as good information on growing and maintaining an organic lawn.
With its thorough, solid advice about sustainable gardening, Practical Organic Gardening is a must-have for any gardener’s library.
Julie Bawden-Davis is a garden writer and master gardener, who since 1985 has written for publications such as Organic Gardening, The American Gardener, Wildflower, Better Homes and Gardens and The Los Angeles Times. She is the author of 11 books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening, Fairy Gardening, The Strawberry Story Series, and Indoor Gardening the Organic Way, and is the founder of HealthyHouseplants.com. Her backyard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.