‘Sustainable Vegetable Gardening,’ a highly-recommended winter read for those who want to raise environmentally-friendly food | Home-garden

“Sustainable Food Gardens”, the new book by Robert Kourik, is a must for anyone who wants to grow their own food in an environmentally friendly way, the former and suggesting the latter.

SustainableFoodGardens cover_6.pdf

“Sustainable Food Gardens: Myths and Solutions.”

At this point I would like to announce that I have been an admirer of the work of Robert Kourik for many years and that I wrote the foreword to this book. I am not benefiting financially from the sale, but I do intend to use it in my garden.

As the wife of a scientist and someone trained to find evidence-based solutions, I often get frustrated with the garden media, where opinions easily pass themselves off as facts and traditions often trump science. Robert’s writings are refreshingly different in this regard. He is a staunch researcher and an avid reader of horticultural magazines and reports. He’s not afraid to contradict popular opinion, although he is more interested in getting to the bottom of the matter (by the way, special knowledge of plant roots and how their habits affect plant growth and care is one of Robert’s achievements and the subject of one Chapter in this book).

Robert’s hands have been in the ground for a long time. He founded one of the first companies for organic landscape maintenance in this country in 1974 and is still experimenting with new techniques and testing new methods. For example, he was a personal friend of Bill Mollison, half of the Australian duo that started the permaculture movement, and Robert shares insights he learned from this pioneer of sustainable gardening. Robert does not hesitate, however, to deviate from permaculture dogma if, in his opinion, it conflicts with peer-reviewed horticultural studies or his own experience. In fact, Robert devotes 25 pages to a largely positive review of permaculture, but suggests how its teachings can be adapted to better reflect the realities of American suburban gardening.

Has the summer rain flooded your garden?  Instead of wringing your hands, roll up your sleeves and become a “climate conscious” gardener

Robert does not hesitate to mention his own mistakes. He devotes a full page of this book to unmasking a list of “dynamic accumulators” that he published in 1986. Dynamic accumulators are plants which, through the action of their roots, dissolve minerals from the soil and concentrate them in their tissue, ultimately making them available to their less enterprising neighbors in the garden. Since then, Robert has questioned the reliability of his sources for the original list, and while still maintaining the value of the concept, he includes lists in this book based on more reliable research, such as the careful work of the late James Duke , PhD, from the US Department of Agriculture.

Sustainable Food Gardens is a remarkably comprehensive guide that will benefit both novice and experienced gardeners, taking them from the details of “feeding the soil” to “attracting beneficial insects” and “designing sustainable gardens”. Sustainable garden game ”, as there should be space in such a guide for ideas for designing children’s games, as well as a recipe for persimmon margaritas (and many others, including“ mocktails ”for those who prefer their drinks and games to be non-alcoholic).

I don’t always agree with Robert. For example, in this book he cites the publications of Professor Arthur Shapiro of the University of California, Davis, which highlight the beneficial role that introduced plants play in harboring butterflies and caterpillars in suburban California. This seems to me to contradict the findings of ecologists like Douglas Tallamy, PhD, of the University of Delaware, and Desirée Narango, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. However, I respect the fact that Robert is not expressing a personal opinion, but rather the peer-reviewed results of legitimate research. I would like to listen to a debate between the respective scientists.

As a paperback at $ 69.95, this may be an expensive purchase, but I think it’s a steal at 462 pages of information. Last but not least, Chapter 8, “Free Fertilizers”, quickly saves you the cover price and more, and makes your gardening work more sustainable and environmentally friendly. I can only recommend this book to every gardener for winter reading.

To hear a conversation with Robert Kourik, sign up for the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Growing Greener podcast at thomaschristophergardens.com.

Thomas Christopher is a volunteer at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens and is the author or co-author of more than a dozen books. His column companion, Growing Greener, is streamed on WESUFM.org, Pacifica Radio and NPR and is available on his website thomaschristophergardens.com/podcast.

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