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The Truth About Organic Gardening: Benefits, Drawbacks, and the Bottom Line Paperback – February 1, 2008
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“Trying to find definitive, impartial advice is hard. . . . How do you separate the hype from the facts? Spending 13 bucks on Gillman’s new book. . . may go a long way.” —Washington Post
“To be the best gardener, tend your soil, plant a diverse garden, tolerate some imperfection and make informed case-by-case choices to deal with problems. [This] book can help.” —Chicago Tribune
“You’d have to be a professional horticulturalist yourself not to learn something from Gillman’s wide-ranging descriptions of the more arcane chemical and mechanical garden methodologies that are out there. . . . He shares his knowledge and experience in a way that entertains, enlightens, and sometimes surprises.” —Garden Rant
“I’ve come away from this book—a reference text masquerading as a beach read—with hands-on knowledge that is just plain useful. The book gives you the facts about synthetic and organic techniques and encourages you to do further research, then make educated decisions about your own garden. . . . He is calm and even in his approach. His bottom line is that we all need to be more mindful about how we garden, and he encourages us to work towards a safer, healthier, and better world.” —Horticulture
“Gillman is a brainy University of Minnesota horticulturalist who is applying both science and common sense to the battle between ‘organic’ and ‘chemicals.’ It turns out there are things found in nature that aren’t all that good for your backyard zinnias, or the planet, and that some man-made stuff actually serves both masters.” —Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine
“Refreshing, lucid, and enlightening. Their spare style, with no illustrations, and concentration of facts rather than ‘inspiration’ even gives them an old-fashioned charm.” —BBC Gardens
“Finally, someone wrote a clear and concise book about gardening practices and products.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“A highly readable, intelligent, and scientifically based discussion on the benefits and, yes, drawbacks of organic gardening.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“If you’re a gardener, run, don’t walk, to your nearest laptop or bookstore to buy [this book]. If you think you already know this stuff, trust me. You don’t. . . . It’s a tough, confusing world out there for gardeners. Best to bypass the gurus. Read this book.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
“Destined to be a bestseller. . . . An easy to read, practical, and fascinating book for veteran gardeners or someone who just moved from an apartment to their first home with two feet or 2,000 feet of gardening space.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Sure to cause controversy and heated discussion. . . . What this book does is introduce more than 100 products and planting techniques and cite the latest university tests and factual results so that gardeners can make responsible choices and not continue to link the words ‘organic,’ ‘safe’ and ‘effective’ so firmly in their minds.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"This fascinating book showed me what and how remedies work (or don't), and why. I was interested to learn about potentially hazardous 'quick fixes' and, as always, to have nonsensical myths busted. If I do keep any of my harmless homemade concoctions around, I know now that I'll probably be doing it for their placebo effect—on me."
—Ken Druse --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
In this book Gillman has two aims 1) to explain that "organic" doesn't always mean safe, or environmentally friendly, and 2) to argue that the use of specific practices can reduce if not eliminate the need for pesticides of any form, whether organic or not. Given that these are the aims of the book, and Gillman specifically hopes to provide a calm voice within the many debates and biases regarding them, I think there's a disconnect between the title, the contents, and the intended reader. As a result, when I finished the book, I didn't feel like I had a conclusive take on much at all. But I was rather certain that organic gardening wasn't the topic Gillman really wanted to be writing about.
In the end this book is an enjoyable read. For those starting out, debating changing their approach, or looking for an introduction re: organic vs. conventional gardening, it's worth giving it a go.
The fundamental problem with the wide use of "organic" as a buzzword is that, like many other buzzwords, it becomes a thoughtstopper. Gillman does what a lot of people don't with their food -- he explains the many methods of organic cultivation and pest control (some of which are, for lack of a better term, surprisingly inorganic) and explains their history, how they're used, and the risks and benefits of each. And there's some surprising results -- for example, Gillman points out that many accepted organic methods are poorly tested and not well-understood for environmental impact and toxicity, and lots of popular, seemingly-sensible techniques can actually be damaging to the plants. Favorite organic ingredients turn out to be very dangerous (rotenone) or unavailable (quassia), and seemingly obvious ideas like tobacco sprays turn out to be highly impractical. Gillman does repeat some material from his first book, but a lot of it (particularly the pesticide material) is quite a bit fleshed out.
Perhaps surprisingly, Gillman is guardedly pro-organic, but his message is one of caution -- among other things, he recommends reading other sources with a critical eye to separate good information from woo, and he feels that organic practices are somewhat overrated compared to more scientifically-based approaches such as integrated pest management. He does seem to reject the Rodale doctrine that nutritional quality suffers under conventional agriculture, and generally treats organic agriculture more as a matter of environmental practicality and sustainability than Luddism. I'd mark it as five stars if it a) had some coverage of biodynamics, which to the uninitiated is a Theosophy-influenced blend of organics, homeopathy, and dime-store witchcraft, and b) had included the rating system that Gillman used in his first book. But it's still a worthy companion to the first book and a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what science thinks of organic agriculture.
This is the first book I have found that gives me the research based facts.
I CAN NOW SPEAK INTELLIGENTLY ON ORGANIC PRACTICES.
This is the best book I've read in years. I am now starting in on the rest of Jeff's books.
It doesn't go in depth for most products which is unfortunate in some respects, but certainly makes it a much faster and easier read than if it did.
Overall an excellent book for gardeners and landscapers to have in their library for frequent reference.