Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition

Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition

by Wayne Lewis, Jeff Lowenfels


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“A breakthrough book. No comprehensive horticultural library should be without it.” —American Gardener

When we use chemical fertilizers, we injure the microbial life that sustains plants, and then become increasingly dependent on an arsenal of toxic substances. Teaming with Microbes offers an alternative to this vicious circle, and details how to garden in a way that strengthens, rather than destroys, the soil food web. You’ll discover that healthy soil is teeming with life—not just earthworms and insects, but a staggering multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. This must-have guide is for everyone, from those devoted to organic gardening techniques to weekend gardeners who simply want to grow healthy plants without resorting to chemicals.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604691139
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/24/2010
Pages: 220
Sales rank: 66,825
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

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, which encourages gardeners to donate a portion of their harvest to charitable organizations in their community.

Jeff Lowenfels is the author of a trilogy of award winning books on plants and soil, and he is the longest running garden columnist in North America. Lowenfels is a national lecturer as well as a fellow, hall of fame member, and former president of the Garden Writers of America.

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.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Part 1. The Basic Science
Chapter 1. What Is The Soil Food Web and Why Should Gardeners Care?
Chapter 2. Classic Soil Science
Chapter 3. Bacteria
Chapter 4. Archaea
Chapter 5. Fungi
Chapter 6. Algae and Slime Molds
Chapter 7. Protozoa
Chapter 8. Nematodes
Chapter 9. Arthropods
Chapter 10. Earthworms
Chapter 11. Gastropods
Chapter 12. Reptiles, Mammals, and Birds
Part 2. Applying Soil Food Web Science to Yard and Garden Care
Chapter 13. How the Soil Food Web Applies to Gardening
Chapter 14. What Do Your Soil Food Webs Look Like?
Chapter 15. Tools for Restoration and Maintenance
Chapter 16. Compost
Chapter 17. Mulch
Chapter 18. Compost Teas
Chapter 19. Mycorrhizal Fungi
Chapter 20. The Lawn
Chapter 21. Maintaining Trees, Shrubs, and Perennials
Chapter 22. Growing Annuals and Vegetables
Chapter 23. A Simple Soil Food Web Garden Calendar
Chapter 24. No One Ever Fertilized an Old Growth Forest
Appendix. The Soil Food Web Gardening Rules

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Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Flower-girlSC More than 1 year ago
Anyone interested in the improving the quality of their gardens, lawns, shrubs and trees should read this book. We take our soils for granted, remember the dust bowls in the 1930's? It was caused by the ignorance of US Government encouraging farming in a prairie grass ecosystem ill equipped to handle the mechanical tilling and drought conditions of this mid-west region. If you are interested in Organic gardening this is a must read book. The revised edition (2010) includes a new chapter on mycorrhizae, which are fascinating fungi that grow in and around plants. Learn about mulch, compost, earthworms and other soil organisms, compost and worm teas, soil science, and the soil food web. This book is a treat for all soil lovers.
FreeMattHale More than 1 year ago
Feed the Earth and the Earth will Feed You!
efm More than 1 year ago
amazing what goes on in the garden that cannot be seen with our eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
outthered More than 1 year ago
This is BS. Just add a little ammonium sulfate to your compost pile and see how much the nitrogen and sulfur increase the microbial life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago