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Secrets to Great Soil (Storey's Gardening Skills Illustrated) Paperback – January 2, 1998

4.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What this book lacks in pizzazz it makes up for in practicality. Although Stell's crisp, no-nonsense presentation is as utilitarian as a sturdy trowel, she packs in an impressive amount of information. Some of the discussions are fairly technical?soil acidity and nutrients, for example?and may initially be daunting to novices, but the lively layout (an abundance of illustrative line drawings, charts and sidebar features such as "Master Gardening Tips" and "Hints for Success") keeps the material accessible. Stell leaves no stone unturned in exploring her subject, whether instructing on how to identify particular types of soils, remedy deficiencies, improve problem soils or zero in on the needs of specific plants. She's thorough, presenting, for instance, not one or two but half a dozen different composting methods. The book may not dazzle readers with its style, but it's a valuable resource they'll no doubt find themselves turning to time and again.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Stell starts with an analysis of soil: how it was formed, its different textures, its structure, and the importance of drainage and earthworms. She explains how to create fertile soil with the help of nutrients and organic matter and what hand tools are needed to cultivate the soil--trowels, hoes, spades, shovels, weeders, forks, rakes, etc., as well as power tools such as shredders, trimmers, mowers, rototillers, and cultivators. There's a chapter on making and using compost and how to construct composting bins, a chapter on the use of mulches, and one on choosing and using fertilizers. Another chapter gives data on starting a new garden and deals with raised beds, sunken beds, slopes, and terraces. This latest volume in Storey's Gardening Skills Illustrated series contains 300 detailed color drawings. George Cohen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Storey's Gardening Skills Illustrated
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (January 2, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580170080
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580170086
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.6 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I went to the library today to see if they had anything new. I've read about every book our small library has which pertains to gardening. Out of the corner of my eye I happened upon "Secrets to Great Soil." It looked interesting; I checked it out. I am now here at amazon.com to purchase this book. I've been organic gardening for 25 years and in all these many years have not found a book which thoroughly lists organic, inorganic, and synthetic fertilizers in a format which is easy to discern. It is easy to read for anyone, regardless the experience. Both novice and advanced gardeners will enjoy this journey of soil science along with the explanation. I am deeply moved by all the work which went into this highly recommended publication.
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Format: Paperback
Simply a marvelous book that is so easy to use. Addresses many questions the gardener may ask about soil nutrition, structure, pH level and how to adjust them. I have been a gardener for thirty five years but questions about soil and what to do to make the best of a particular situation arise still. This book has become a wonderful resource for me. Chaptered and indexed for easy accessibility. Very thorough in its information for both organic and formulated solutions. Highly recommend.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think this is a good book for beginning gardeners who are just starting to get a sense of what makes great soil. It covers the basics in a thorough, organized way. More experienced gardeners aren't going to find much new here, though having it all in one place is helpful. As the part-owner of a commercial organic farm, some information I was hoping for is just not here: how do you remedy soil structure problems on a large scale? How do you handle cover crops when a pitchfork isn't adequate? But for the backyard garden this book is perfectly adequate. Some standouts are the sections on managing soil diseases without chemicals and triple-bin composting. A good resource.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought several books on soil recently. This one is by far the best. Not only is there a wealth of information, it is arranged in an orderly way with illustrations, charts, and sidebars with hints for success. I especially appreciate the helpful charts. "Types of Mulches," for example, lists 35 different kinds, their appearance, insulation value, relative cost, thickness, weed control, water penetration, soil moisture retention, speed of composition and special comments about each one--all arranged in an easy to read and compare chart. Another nice chart is "Useful Conversions" at the end of the book that shows kilograms to pounds, cubic centimeters to cubic inches, hectares to acres, millimeters to feet, etc.

One thing that sometimes surprises me is how much space gardening books devote to making compost, and this one is no exception. Here's a tip for turning kitchen scraps into compost/mulch that's fast and easy. Take an old blender, or as I do, use an extra blender container for this: Roughly chop all vegetable & fruit peels and add them to the blender along with clean egg shells, coffee & tea grounds (no meat products or oils!) plus a dried hot chile or two to discourage pests and enough cold water to liquefy. Blend into a slurry. Dump the mixture around plants, shrubs and trees you wish to improve. Simple.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wealth of information about my favorite topic of late -- soil. For a beginner, it provided some much needed information on tools, composting and managing diseases and nutrients in the soil. The added bonus for me was information on crop rotation and managing a calendar.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My raised beds are ten years old, and I found that this tome was valuable in maintaining the productivity of the soil in my beds. I already did rotate crops across six large beds, using five each year and allowing the sixth to go fallow. This book gave me some ideas to follow FOR AN EXISTING GARDEN AREA, where most books only talk about doing this, that, and something else BEFORE starting it! I heartily recommend this book to any and all serious gardeners!
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By Ds Realm on July 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is one of the most informative books anyone can buy if you are composting and vegetable gardening, the best of all the books I have ever read. This should be in every gardeners library.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not being a country farmer, did learn more about soil from this book. Read many soil books, but this one added a new view of interest to it. Made me go out and buy some manure for my garden this year. Thought I was doing things right prior to this book.
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