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Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition Hardcover


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Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition + Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener's Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition + Roots Demystified: Change Your Gardening Habits to Help Roots Thrive
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press; Revised edition (February 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604691131
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604691139
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sure, it's a gardening book, but it has all the drama and suspense of an extraterrestrial thriller. A cast of characters without eyeballs or backbones. Battle scenes with bizarre creatures devouring one another. Only this book is about as terrestrial as it gets."
—Debra McKinney, Anchorage Daily News, September 14, 2006 (Anchorage Daily News)

"All good gardeners know healthy plants start with healthy soil. But why? And how? In Teaming with Microbes Lowenfels and Lewis reveal the new research in the most practical and accessible way." Kym Pokorny, The Oregonian (The Oregonian)

"For years, we've thought of the 'food chains' in our environment. Lowenfels and Lewis explain an even more wonderful idea: the 'soil food web.' Read Teaming with Microbes and keep it or give it to the library so others may learn of this astounding way to grow vegetables, trees, lawns."

(Rockland Courier-Gazette)

"Sure, it's a gardening book, but it has all the drama and suspense of an extraterrestrial thriller.... Read this book and you'll never look at soil the same way." (Anchorage Daily News)

"[This book] is a must read for any gardener looking to create a sustainable, healthy garden without chemicals."

(Detroit News)

“It is exciting that the revelations herein are the tip of the iceberg in the complex, microscopic world of our soil that will unfold in the coming decades.” (B & B Magazine)

"It takes readers underground to meet the critters that live if you let them under the garden."
(Virginian-Pilot)

"All good gardeners know healthy plants start with healthy soil. But why? And how? In Teaming with Microbes Lowenfels and Lewis reveal the new research in the most practical and accessible way."  (Kym Pokorny The Oregonian)

"For years, we've thought of the 'food chains' in our environment. Lowenfels and Lewis explain an even more wonderful idea: the 'soil food web.' Read Teaming with Microbes and keep it or give it to the library so others may learn of this astounding way to grow vegetables, trees, lawns."

(Rockland Courier-Gazette)

"Read this book and you'll never think of soil the same way." (Anchorage Daily News)

"The authors have given gardeners an inside scoop on the scientific research supporting organic gardening." (Washington Gardener)

"This book has all the best dirt on all the best dirt. It...explains the basics of good soil practices, and it's written especially for home gardeners. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"This is sure to gain that well-thumbed look than any good garden book acquires as it is referred to repeatedly over the years." (Pacific Horticulture)

"This is the most complete book on the market about biological or organic methods in horticulture...highly recommended for all gardeners, landscapers, or anyone taking care of a lawn or garden." (Nature's Way Resources)

"[This book] is a must read for any gardener looking to create a sustainable, healthy garden without chemicals." (Detroit News)

“If you want to get a good understanding of how soils really work, and learn how to really feed your soil (and thus, your plants), there is a great book that explains it all very well, and also explains how to make really good compost and compost tea. It is concise and uses nonscientific terminology. The book is Teaming With Microbes; A Gardener's Guide To The Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.”

(Jared R. McKinley DrWeil.com News)

“The information in this book is eye-opening and consistently entertaining.”

(Florida Survival Gardening)

“This very well illustrated hardback is a scientific view of many different kinds of soil microbes which include bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, nematodes and many others.”

(Maureen Gilmer The Desert Sun)

About the Author

Wayne Lewis is a lifelong Alaskan gardener. He has worked with Jeff Lowenfels on many projects over the past 25 years, including the now national Plant a Row for the Hungry program (started in Anchorage by Jeff), which encourages gardeners to donate a portion of their harvest to charitable organizations in their community.


Jeff Lowenfels is a weekly columnist for the Anchorage Daily News. He is the founder of Plant a Row for The Hungry, a program that has created over 14 million meals to feed the hungry. A popular national garden writer and leading proponent of gardening using the concepts of the soil food web, Jeff is the former president of the Garden Writers of America and was made a GWA Fellow in 1999. In 2005, he was inducted into the GWA Hall of Fame. He lives in Anchorage, Alaska.


More About the Authors

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Customer Reviews

This particular book is detailed, while at the same time reading like a novel.
Pankaj Gupta
Although the first part of the book is really academic type information, the second part or the whole book in general is a very very good read.
Raamses Rodriguez
This fine book, talks about soil teeming with microbes as a way of teaming with microbes.
Obi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 92 people found the following review helpful By CelticNatureBoy on May 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first part of the book is pretty good. But then it comes completely off the rails in the second part. The author admits that mycorrhizal fungus is new to him. Adding a chapter on the subject for this latest revision was insufficient. The facts about mycorrhizal fungus means his theories about plant succession and bacterial vs fungal soil is completely wrong. Some vegetables are very dependant on mycorrhizal fungus. He should have completely rewritten part two. Example link:[...]
I agree that people should not till in the spring just before planting. But tilling in the late fall and working in organic matter and then planting a mycorrhizal cover crop will renew the fungus and achieve superior results. Buy this book for the first part and then ignore the second part.
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114 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Forest7 on March 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the beginning of Teaming with Microbes, but as I went on through it, I began to be uncomfortable with some of its tone. The authors seemed to be wanting to put their attachment to non-organic industrial lawn and garden products behind them, but they also seem to be doing advance work for a new bio-tech industry, rather than just proposing to work "with" the soil life in an organic way.

They relate [p.69] that one of them wrote a weekly gardening column for 30 years and never once mentioned mycorrhiza "out of sheer ignorance." On the same page they write, that it was only in the 1990's that the term mycorrhiza started to "creep into the agricultural industry's lexicon, much less the home gardener's." Most organic gardeners are aware that it is with home gardeners and "soil pioneers" progress is made in soil science, and not in an entrenched industry.

On p. 125, with the section "a quick look forward," they write, "Given the advancing scientific techniques, the high degree of interest in the subject, and the human as well as the monetary implications of usable bio-products, it is certain more will be taken up - more and more often - as additional tools for restoration and maintenance." In other words, more industry involvement.

Further, on page 126, the authors disclose their wish for the bio-tech development of "an endophytic fungi that rids the lawn of dandelions." The development of such a fungi that kills dandelions could be an ecological disaster. Besides the value of dandelions as a food source for many nations outside of the U.S., dandelions are a nitrogen fixing soil improving plant. Then too, did the authors consider that the bio-tech created endophytic fungi might adapt to also kill other root vegetables, such as sugar beets, and carrots?
Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By web design_guru on May 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Such a paradigm shift! I had started out learning about organic gardening, then began learning about Gaia's Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture and recently found Teaming with Microbes. I will never think about gardening or the earth the same way again. Dandelions = a calcium deficiency in your lawn? I used to think they were just lawn weeds who's leaves could be purchased at health food stores for a high price as a foodie delicacy. Love. Love. Love this book. It teaches you, in a very easy to understand way, how the soil food web works and what you can do to naturally improve your soil and crops/plants for sustainable and efficient growth. Now that's a gardening book. Brilliant. 5 stars!
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Pankaj Gupta on November 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been reading a lot of books related to 1) Gardening 2) Composting etc. and most of them leave a lot to be desired in terms of the scope of information contained.

This particular book is detailed, while at the same time reading like a novel. It is full of excellent information about microbiology of soils. When you read a book on a particular subject, what you are really looking for is clarity and answers to your questions. This book provides all of that, and more.

Wonderful book. Highly recommended to anyone who is interested in 1) Organic Gardening 2) Composting, or organic mulches or compost teas 3) Soil microbiology
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ronald R. Humphrey on May 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is written in such a way that the average gardener can understand the fairly recent scientific research discoveries regarding the world of activity taking place in their soil. This explains why some things that were considered good gardening practices in the past actually inhibit the natural processes of healthy plant growth. Understanding the biology of the soil, you can implement low/no cost processes to greatly improve the life of it.

Very interesting reading even if you are not a gardener.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By BlindSquirl on April 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I stumbled across this book while doing research on compost tea. It explains, in layman's terms, exactly what should be going on in our soil. It also lays the foundation for transforming the way you think of soil. It explains why petro-chemical based, artificial fertilizers appear to give you results in the beginning, but ultimately lead down the slippery slope of ever increasing needs for more and more, expensive fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. My business and web site have benefitted from reading this book. The instructor for my Master Composting class is "constantly amazed" and much of what I know came from this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Diane Miessler on December 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As a long time organic gardener, I thought I had things pretty well figured out - compost, no chemicals, mulch. But this book (which, surprisingly, I was unable to put down) opened my eyes to the world of soil microbiology, and in a fascinating, often funny style. I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't realize the best thing about compost is not the nutrients it contains, but the germs. And that disturbing soils kills mycorrhizae (something I'd just been reading about in Paul Stamets' books on fungi).
The authors have arrived at the perfect mix of science and readability - this book fed my hunger for solid science, AND was fun to read. It's my go-to book on soil microbes. Get it, and keep it next to the dictionary on your Important Books Shelf.
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