Books for Armchair Gardening: Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, Herb Society of America

Rodale's organic gardening primer

If you’re starting a new garden or amending an existing garden Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening, A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden (2014), By Deborah L. Martin, is a solid reference. It discusses everything from 10 garden plans to six plans for raised beds, from composting and seed starting  to reliable plants.

The book waxes thoughtful about the meaning of organic gardening on page 8, “…a system of working with nature to create conditions that benefit plants, people, and the environment.”

Learn how to build up soil and maintain its composition. Compost instructions list what to include beyond kitchen scraps – tea bags, hair, nutshells. And what to avoid – meat, grease, carnivore droppings and diseased plants.

There’s a discussion on the contribution of insects and microorganisms. “Think of the beneficial organisms as your “microherd” and treat them well,” writes Martin. That means avoiding pesticides. Millipedes, earthworms and ground beetles are three members of the microherd breaking down plant matter, aerating soil and feasting on “bad” bugs.

Rodale Top 10 Herbs

The book’s writing is easy-to-follow and delightful. The section on Top 10 herbs is a persuasive checklist. If I don’t already grow them, I will this year.

While I’ve been gardening for at least 30 years, I found new information in this primer. I’d probably find more if I read it cover to cover instead of acting all ADD and jumping from interesting thought to interesting thought.

Consider this book for the gardener in your life.

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