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Decoding Gardening Advice: The Science Behind the 100 Most Common Recommendations Paperback – December 13, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press (December 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604692200
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604692204
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Anyone who has been in the home-gardening game for any length of time has probably encountered much dubious advice passed on by neighbors, self-styled experts, and even Internet posters. In this concise, well-written guide to separating the scientifically valid tips from the invalid, seasoned horticultural specialists Gillman and Maynard cover a great range of gardening topics, from soil chemistry to watering to lawn care. Each chapter is divided into three sections reviewing “good advice,” “advice that’s debatable,” and “advice that’s just wrong.” Some examples of good advice include applying pesticides in the morning and keeping shrubs together. The more surprising debatable advice includes cautions about using pricey grow lights for seeding and planting vegetables in rows. In the “just wrong” column, the authors debunk such ideas as the need for gravel in container bottoms for drainage and the necessity of plentiful lawn watering during a hot summer. A well-researched, indispensable resource that belongs on every gardening shelf. --Carl Hays

Review

“A well-researched, indispensable resource that belongs on every gardening shelf.”
(Susan Banks Library Journal)

"Helpful for novice and experienced gardeners alike, the practical advice here is backed up with interesting popular science and delivered in an engaging format."
(Virginia A. Smith San Francisco Chronicle)

“Filled with simplified explanations based on current science, this slim, precisely organized handbook is good for a cover to cover read or as a handy reference guide to dip into as needed.”
(Mary-Liz Shaw The Pittsburg Post-Gazette)

“Gillman's book is full of interesting and scientifically backed research. He's a welcome voice of reason amid a growing babble of self-appointed, uninformed gardening ‘experts.’”

(Renee Struthers-Hogge Philadelphia Inquirer)

"Whether you agree or not, the authors' recommendations and conclusions are explained and summarized. This is one smart, well-organized book."
(Courtney Sorrell The Journal-Sentinel)

"This is a fascinating, entertaining and useful book, written in a format that makes for quick reference."
(The East Oregonian)

"[B]ogus information spreads like wildfire, especially with the advent of the internet. This handy book gives you the straight scoop on what's good, what's bad and what's iffy in the world of gardening."
(Dallas Morning News)

“If you’ve ever questioned a commonly repeated gardening tip and considered submitting it to Mythbusters for analysis, don’t bother. Just buy this book.” 
(Dallas Morning News)

"If you’ve ever questioned a commonly repeated gardening tip and considered submitting it to Mythbusters for analysis, don’t bother. Just buy this book."
(ForeWord Magazine)

"...veteran gardeners and newly inspired green thumbs alike will learn to question what they're told before they create the vegetable garden, orchard, or suburban lawn of their dreams."
(Winston-Salem Journal)

"This is a nuts-and-bolts book full of practical advice."

(The Patriot-News)

"This easy-to-read paperback is kind of like a Consumer Reports rundown on garden tips.” 

(The Chronicle Herald)

“Looks at more than 100 of the so called dos and don’ts of gardening, and backs up their recommendations with hands-on research.” 

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
47%
4 star
41%
3 star
12%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 17 customer reviews
In the chapter on soil, an example of good advice is - Create an environment that is favorable to earth-worms.
allanbecker-gardenguru
The amount of gardening information can be overwhelming, but this book is written in such a way that you can quickly find the answer to a specific question.
T. rooney
The book is very well organized by topic (soil, water, etc.) and within the topic by good advice, advice that's debatable, and advice that's just wrong.
OrchidSlayer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By T. rooney on December 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. As a long time experienced gardener I found that the explanations about why do to or not to do something very clear and concise. I loved the concept of dividing the chapters in to the Good/Debatable/Wrong categories. As a Master Gardener often answering a gardening question begins with 'well it depends'. Because the Debatable section is usually the largest in each chapter, it is easy to to understand why so many of my answers have always begun with 'well, it depends'. This book will be a great reference for any level of gardening ability/interest. If you are a long time gardener you will find the reasons behind the things you are doing (or should not be doing). If you are a new gardener you will find clear answers, clear explanations and gentle guidance into a pursuit that can be as big or little, as friendly or intimidating as you want it to be. The amount of gardening information can be overwhelming, but this book is written in such a way that you can quickly find the answer to a specific question. Or you can spend enjoyable hours just reading it. The "Real Dirt" notes are also interesting bonus nuggets of information or direction. The fact that the advice is based on scientific research lends the book validity. And as all good gardeners are aware, and the authors point out time and again, your experience may be different, you can try anything, it may/may not work for you but now you will have the facts and can work from that knowledge.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tim Tune on February 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
If you've ever questioned a commonly repeated gardening tip and considered submitting it to Mythbusters for analysis, don't bother. Just buy this book, which more than likely addresses your suspicion.

What gardener hasn't been drilled by neighbors, radio talk show hosts, newspaper/website columnists and the garden center guys with supposed horticultural wisdom such as "deadhead to encourage bloom" or "always mulch gardens"?

Decoding Gardening Advice - The Science Behind the 100 Most Common Recommendations digs to the roots of such guidance and exposes what's right, what's questionable and what's incorrect. Authors Jeff Gillman, associate professor of horticultural science at the University of Minnesota, and journalist/master gardener Meleah Maynard examine a wide range of gardening tips from the ground up.

Decoding Gardening Advice is organized into eight chapters covering broad topics such as soil, water, mulch, trees and shrubs, vegetables and fruit; and lawn care. Each chapter examines common guidelines on the topic, arranged in sub-sections of "Good Advice," "Advice That's Debatable" and "Advice That's Just Wrong."

Along with their judgment of good, debatable and wrong, the authors explain what happens if the advice is followed, offer instructions on how to correctly follow good advice, present an alternative to debatable or wrong advice and wrap it up with a concise summary.

What seems missing from this book are pictures, a staple for gardening tomes. Except for a small drawing to decorate each chapter's table of contents, the only other artwork is black-and-white head shots of the authors. But there are several helpful charts.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By FeliciaP on February 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
First let me say, I think most of the advice in this book is spot-on. If you're looking for advice that works, and don't really care if it's based on science or Gillman and Maynard's latest stint with the ouija board, then you'll be a happy reader. But if, as the subtitle promises, you DO care about the science of gardening, you'll be frustrated. This is, essentially, a book of advice on how to approach other people's advice. And since there are lots of good advice books out there, and this one doesn't really break any new ground, it's hard to recommend.

So my main problems are these:

The text --- It is, literally, poop-colored. Legibility was sacrificed for a dubious aesthetic choice. Is black print really so bad?

The visuals --- There are none. No graphics, no illustrations, no photographs, no nothing. Just page after page of poop-hued typography.

The subtitle, and this is my main gripe --- it's a cheat. The way the book is presented, it reads as opinion and anecdotal evidence, not science. Gillman may BE a scientist, but that mere fact doesn't actually render his take on any given subject "science." Anecdote and personal experience, however expert, are still just that. The entries in this book that are clearly data-driven are the exception. By contrast, there are almost endless references to Gillman's and other gardeners' "experience." This anecdotal evidence may be true, useful, and ultimately provable, but anecdote is actually the opposite of science, and this book isn't subtitled "the anecdotal evidence and expert experience behind the 100 most common recommendations." The authors claim the mantle of scientific authority, but don't do us the honor of employing the actual scientific method.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By allanbecker-gardenguru on April 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
Decoding Gardening Advice: The Science Behind the 100 Most Common Recommendations

The benefit of this book to gardeners is that it takes advice out of the realm of folklore, and places it under the spotlight of horticultural and botanical science.

The authors maintain that the most serious drawback to successful and effective gardening is that people are ill informed. They believe that a lot of gardening advice is confusing, dubious, or bad. Some well meaning gardeners unknowingly twist the facts, others are ignorant of them, and still others innocently hold on to stale-dated knowledge that no longer stands up to contemporary scientific scrutiny.

Is it possible that unsuspecting gardeners, confused when they are bombarded with contradictory advice, consider gardening a joyless activity? The authors believe so; and that has been their impetus to write this book.

Eight major gardening subjects are covered in an examination of the one hundred most commonly received garden recommendations. The topics are related to soil, water, pest, disease, and weed control, mulch, annuals, perennials and bulbs, trees and shrubs, vegetables and fruit, and lawn care.

In order to evaluate the usefulness and worthiness of the most often-received guidance, the authors classify conventional gardening information into three categories: - advice that is good, advice that is debatable and advice that is just wrong. The reader will be amazed to learn how much erroneous information has been perpetuated as garden gospel, the amount of information that is neither true nor false, and how much folklore is considered wise garden advice.
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