Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web

Overview


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...
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Overview


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.
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Editorial Reviews

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

“It is exciting that the revelations herein are the tip of the iceberg in the complex, microscopic world of our soil that will unfold in the coming decades.”
Rockland Courier-Gazette

"It takes readers underground to meet the critters that live if you let them under the garden."
Detroit News

"This is sure to gain that well-thumbed look than any good garden book acquires as it is referred to repeatedly over the years."
B & B Magazine

"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."
Virginian-Pilot

"[This book] is a must read for any gardener looking to create a sustainable, healthy garden without chemicals."

The Oregonian - Kym Pokorny
"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."
Washington Gardener

"For years, we've thought of the 'food chains' in our environment. Lowenfels and Lewis explain an even more wonderful idea: the 'soil food web.' Read Teaming with Microbes and keep it or give it to the library so others may learn of this astounding way to grow vegetables, trees, lawns."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Read this book and you'll never think of soil the same way."
Pacific Horticulture

"The authors have given gardeners an inside scoop on the scientific research supporting organic gardening."
Nature's Way Resources

"This book has all the best dirt on all the best dirt. It...explains the basics of good soil practices, and it's written especially for home gardeners.
DrWeil.com News - Jared R. McKinley
“If you want to get a good understanding of how soils really work, and learn how to really feed your soil (and thus, your plants), there is a great book that explains it all very well, and also explains how to make really good compost and compost tea. It is concise and uses nonscientific terminology. The book isTeaming With Microbes; A Gardener's Guide To The Soil Food Webby Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.”
Florida Survival Gardening

"[This book] is a must read for any gardener looking to create a sustainable, healthy garden without chemicals."
The Desert Sun - Maureen Gilmer
“This very well illustrated hardback is a scientific view of many different kinds of soil microbes which include bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, nematodes and many others.”
DrWeil.com News

"This is the most complete book on the market about biological or organic methods in horticulture...highly recommended for all gardeners, landscapers, or anyone taking care of a lawn or garden."
From the Publisher

“If you want to get a good understanding of how soils really work, and learn how to really feed your soil (and thus, your plants), there is a great book that explains it all very well, and also explains how to make really good compost and compost tea. It is concise and uses nonscientific terminology. The book isTeaming With Microbes; A Gardener's Guide To The Soil Food Webby Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.”

“The information in this book is eye-opening and consistently entertaining.”

“This very well illustrated hardback is a scientific view of many different kinds of soil microbes which include bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, nematodes and many others.”

The Oregonian
"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." Kym Pokorny, The Oregonian
Anchorage Daily News
"Read this book and you'll never think of soil the same way."
Washington Gardener
"The authors have given gardeners an inside scoop on the scientific research supporting organic gardening."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"This book has all the best dirt on all the best dirt. It...explains the basics of good soil practices, and it's written especially for home gardeners.
Rockland Courier-Gazette
"For years, we've thought of the 'food chains' in our environment. Lowenfels and Lewis explain an even more wonderful idea: the 'soil food web.' Read Teaming with Microbes and keep it or give it to the library so others may learn of this astounding way to grow vegetables, trees, lawns."
Detroit News
"[This book] is a must read for any gardener looking to create a sustainable, healthy garden without chemicals."
B & B Magazine
“It is exciting that the revelations herein are the tip of the iceberg in the complex, microscopic world of our soil that will unfold in the coming decades.”
Virginian-Pilot
"It takes readers underground to meet the critters that live if you let them under the garden."
Pacific Horticulture
"This is sure to gain that well-thumbed look than any good garden book acquires as it is referred to repeatedly over the years."
Nature's Way Resources
"This is the most complete book on the market about biological or organic methods in horticulture...highly recommended for all gardeners, landscapers, or anyone taking care of a lawn or garden."
DrWeil.com News - Jared R. McKinley

“If you want to get a good understanding of how soils really work, and learn how to really feed your soil (and thus, your plants), there is a great book that explains it all very well, and also explains how to make really good compost and compost tea. It is concise and uses nonscientific terminology. The book isTeaming With Microbes; A Gardener's Guide To The Soil Food Webby Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780881927771
  • Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/29/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 196
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Lowenfels is a weekly columnist for the Anchorage Daily News. He is the founder of Plant a Row for The Hungry, a program that has created over 14 million meals to feed the hungry. A popular national garden writer and leading proponent of gardening using the concepts of the soil food web, Jeff is the former president of the Garden Writers of America and was made a GWA Fellow in 1999. In 2005, he was inducted into the GWA Hall of Fame. He lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Wayne Lewis is a lifelong Alaskan gardener. He has worked with Jeff Lowenfels on many projects over the past 25 years, including the now national Plant a Row for the Hungry program (started in Anchorage by Jeff), which encourages gardeners to donate a portion of their harvest to charitable organizations in their community.

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Read an Excerpt


The images in this book have forewarned you: you may find things in your soil that, upon closer examination, will scare the daylights out of you. (In general we advise against putting anything under an electron microscope. At that level, all life has teeth!) The point is, when you get a good look at some of the microarthropods present in soil, you may never want to put your hands in the soil again. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss; however, in this instance a little knowledge is not going to hurt you and will actually help you be a better gardener. Just remember, you put your hands in the soil before you knew what was there and never got hurt.

You will want to repeat the following procedures with soils from each of your gardens and lawn areas, and even around specific trees and shrubs. We have done this dozens of times in our own yards, and what we find never fails to astonish us.

Start by digging a hole in the soil at issue, about 12 inches (30 centimeters) square. Use a spade or trowel — it doesn't matter, and measurements don't have to be exact. Put all the soil you dig up onto a tarp or in a box so you can then sift through it, looking for the bigger animals you might find in the soil: worms, beetles, insect larvae — any living organism you can see with the naked eye and pick up without having to resort to tweezers. Keep track of what you are finding.

None of us are trained at identifying all the organisms in our soils, and frankly the variety of them is so great as to be beyond the scope of this book. Do your best in making identifications. Seek help from others. In time you will become sufficiently proficient for the purpose. This is new stuff, and just being exposed to it will make the learning experience easier. It didn't take us very long, and it won't take you long to become familiar with soil food web organisms.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2007

    Don't miss it.

    Wow. This is an outstanding book for ALL gardeners. It is so well written and the information is so usable. Get it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2006

    Best Gardening book EVER

    Who knew. After you read this book, you will. The authors make the science fun and is it ever eye opening! You will never garden the same away again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2006

    WOW

    A must. Get this book. Read it. Study it. Do it. I saw an advanced copy. Wowie. This is going to change the way we garden. no more chemicals....Whoppppie

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2006

    Forget what you think you know

    If you don't read this book, you don't know what you don't know. Everything about gardening naturally-organically, becomes clear after you read this terrific book. Whew. What I learned. I will never garden the same and you won't either, I am betting

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

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