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Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition (Science for Gardeners) Hardcover – February 24, 2010
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“A breakthrough book. . . . well worth owning and reading. No comprehensive horticultural library should be without it.” —American Gardener
“Digs into soil in a most enlightening and entertaining way.” —Dallas Morning News
“Required reading for all serious gardeners.” —Miami Herald
“The authors have given gardeners an inside scoop on the scientific research supporting organic gardening.” —Pacific Horticulture
“This intense little book may well change the way you garden.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Exceptional. . . . A brief, clear overview of scientific information with which every gardener should be familiar.” —Monterey Herald
“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.” —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.” —The Oregonian
“Read this book and you’ll never think of soil the same way.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“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.” —B&B Magazine
“A must read for any gardener looking to create a sustainable, healthy garden without chemicals.” —Virginian-Pilot
“It takes readers underground to meet the critters that live if you let them under the garden.” —Rockland Courier-Gazette
From the Back Cover
Smart gardeners know that soil is anything but an inert substance. Healthy soil is teeming with life—not just earthworms and insects, but a staggering multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. When we use chemical fertilizers, we injure the microbial life that sustains healthy plants, and thus become increasingly dependent on an arsenal of artificial substances, many of them toxic to humans as well as other forms of life. But there is an alternative to this vicious circle: to garden in a way that strengthens, rather than destroys, the soil food web—the complex world of soil-dwelling organisms whose interactions create a nurturing environment for plants. By eschewing jargon and overly technical language, the authors make the benefits of cultivating the soil food web available to a wide audience, from devotees of organic gardening techniques to weekend gardeners who simply want to grow healthy, vigorous plants without resorting to chemicals.
This revised edition updates the original text and includes two completely new chapters—on mycorrhizae (beneficial associations fungi form with green-leaved plants) and archaea (singled-celled organisms once thought to be allied to bacteria).
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Top Customer Reviews
The author promotes no-till gardening as being best for microbes.
If I had to choose only *one* book for encouraging a healthy soil ecosystem, I would choose The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient Dense Food by Steve Solomon and Erica Reinheimer. His emphasis is largely organic, but he includes the important contribution minerals make to the soil web. The only drawback to that book is that it doedn't consider no-till gardening..
I plan to put to work next summer.
He writes, "If you have relatively few hydrogen ions compared to the rest of what is in solution, the pH is low and the solution is acidic." This is wrong. Few hydrogen ions means the pH is HIGH (not low) and the solution is BASIC (not acidic).
He continues, "Similarly, if you have a lot of hydrogen ions in solution, then you have a solution with a high pH, one that is alkaline.'" This is wrong. A lot of hydrogen ions means the pH is LOW (not high) and the solution is ACIDIC (not basic).
"Adding OH- to the solution lowers the pH (that is, soil is increasingly acidic) because it lowers the concentration of H+." This is wrong. Adding OH- RAISES (not lowers) the pH and the soil is increasingly alkaline (not acidic).
"As a gardener, you (fortunately) don't need to know much more about pH. You do need to understand, however, that every time a plant root tip exchanges a hydrogen cation for a nutrient cation, the concentration of hydrogen ions in the solution increases. As the concentration of H+ goes up, the pH goes up-the soil is increasingly alkaline." Unfortunately, what he thinks we do need to understand is also stated wrong. As the concentration of H+ goes up, the pH goes DOWN (not up) -the soil is increasingly ACIDIC (not alkaline).
I hoped to learn something from this book, but if he doesn't understand something as fundamental as pH, I can't trust his understanding of the rest.
Only thing I wish they had gone into detail more on was the compost teas; They talk briefly about cell counts in varying teas but dont show how to extrapolste that by using a microscope (yes some people are that into this). They even encourage the reader to purchase a microscope (and even link one sold on Amazon), but give no instruction on how to utilize the newly purchased instrument to better your gardening.
Overall, though, the book is a great introduction to the soil food web and how everything in gardening is interconnected, above ground, or below.