Jeff Lowenfels is a weekly columnist and radio talk show host in Anchorage, Alaska, and author of a previous book entitled Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web. Filled with appealing buzzwords (Organic—Guide—Optimize!) this title tweaked my curiosity. However, in flipping through the pages, I was initially disappointed by the micron telescopic photos and illustrations reminiscent of high school textbooks.
Chapters one through seven focus on building a solid foundation of biology and chemistry, clearly exciting for Lowenfels—he states that the reader should “not get hung up on memorizing, let the lingo flow, and soon all will be clear. Just relax and read for fun.” But it was painstakingly detailed for this reader.
Chapters eight, nine, and ten offer useful and practical information on soil testing, natural and synthetic fertilizers, factors influencing availability of nutrients, and the importance of proper fertilizing—recipes included. If this book were really to be used as a “guide,” these last three chapters are the hard working parts.
Lucky for me, the book’s format includes sections called “What’s in this chapter” and “Summing up.” I found these features extremely useful and since I knew that there wasn’t going to be a quiz on the material at the end of the week, I used them fearlessly and without guilt.
Michelle Myjer, Master Gardener