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Worth its weight in manure :-)
on June 5, 2003
Although the bulk of the material contained in this book could be found online, it's still a worthwhile purchase. Indeed, it is a must have. The purchase price of the book will be quickly regained in the money you will save making your own compost rather than purchasing bagged compost or synthetic fertiliser.
A few of the chapters are more interesting than useful to the home gardener. For instance, one of the early chapters discusses the history of composting beginning with the ancient Akkadians. The final chapter discusses managing large scale compost operations (by large scale, I mean tens and hundreds of tons of waste) on the farm or as part of a municipal waste management strategy.
The core of the book, however, is very directly useful. A chapter is provided describing the chemistry of what goes on in composting, and what goes on as plants attempt to take nutrients from the soil. Another chapter describes the various types of life from microbes to insects and worms (including lovely line drawings) that inhabit a compost pile during the various phases of its lifecycle.
By far the most useful chapter is chapter 6, which provides a list of potential ingredients for your pile and suggestions on how to obtain them. Numerous charts are provided that indicate on balance whether an item should be considered a "green" or a "brown", and (should you desire more specifics) the actual NPK content of various ingredients. This is fully a fifth of the book.
The next most useful chapter is chapter 10, which gives suggestions for various sorts of compost bins you can buy or build. Another chapter describes tools like chippers and shredders that might be useful to you if you plan to make a fair amount of compost. Alternatives are suggested for the folks who don't need quite that much labour saving help.
I can't think of anything that is not in this book that I wish it had. Nor for that matter, can I think of anything that needs to be cut from it. It strikes the perfect balance between comprehensiveness and brevity.