“Sustainable Food Gardens,” Robert Kourik’s new reserve, is a must-have for people who want to raise their possess food in an environmentally-friendly way. “Myths & Answers,” its subtitle, is some thing Robert devotes loads of textual content to exposing the former and proposing the latter.
I ought to at this point share the truth that I have been an admirer of Robert Kourik’s get the job done for quite a few several years, and that I wrote the foreword to this e book. I do not reward financially from its product sales, nevertheless I do intend to place it to perform in my back garden.
As the husband or wife of a scientist and an individual experienced to request out evidence-based remedies, I am usually annoyed by the gardening media, where by opinions conveniently pass them selves off as information and custom typically trumps science. Robert’s writings are refreshingly distinctive in this regard. He’s a dogged researcher and an avid reader of horticultural journals and experiences. He’s not scared to contradict well-liked belief, even though he’s extra interested in acquiring to the root of the challenge (a exclusive information of plant roots, incidentally, and how their patterns influence plant expansion and servicing is just one of Robert’s accomplishments and the topic of a chapter in this ebook).
Robert has had his hands in the soil for a prolonged time. He started off just one of the first organic landscape-routine maintenance corporations in this place again in 1974 and he is even now experimenting with new methods and tests new strategies. He was a individual mate, for example, of Invoice Mollison, fifty percent of the Australian duo that established the permaculture motion, and Robert shares insights that he realized from this sustainable gardening pioneer. Robert’s not sluggish, nevertheless, to depart from permaculture dogma when he finds it contradicting peer-reviewed horticultural reports or his have working experience. Indeed, Robert devotes 25 web pages to a largely optimistic critique of permaculture, suggesting, on the other hand, techniques in which its teachings may be modified to much better mirror the realities of American suburban gardening.
Robert does not wait to get in touch with out his personal problems as well. He devotes a complete site of this e book to decrying a record of “dynamic accumulators” he printed in 1986. Dynamic accumulators are plants that will, by way of the action of their roots, carry into resolution and focus in their tissues minerals from the soil, making them readily available in the long run to their much less enterprising neighbors in the garden. Robert has considering that arrive to dilemma the reliability of his resources for the original listing, and although he however maintains the price of the concept, he contains lists in this current e-book based mostly on more trustworthy analysis these types of as the meticulous perform of the late James Duke, PhD, of the U.S. Office of Agriculture.
Sustainable Food items Gardens is a remarkably thorough guidebook that will benefit both inexperienced persons and expert gardeners alike, having them from the specifics of “Nurturing the Soil” to “Attracting Helpful Insects” and “Designing Sustainable Gardens.” He has even integrated a chapter on “Sustainable Backyard Play,” as there need to be area in these a tutorial for concepts of how to create children’s video games, as properly as a recipe for persimmon margaritas (as very well as several many others, which include “mocktails” for these who favor their drinks and engage in to be alcohol free).
I don’t often concur with Robert. For instance, he cites in this book the publications of professor Arthur Shapiro, of the College of California, Davis, which emphasize the beneficial purpose that launched vegetation perform in internet hosting butterflies and caterpillars in suburban California. This would seem to me to be contradicted by the findings of ecologists these as Douglas Tallamy, PhD, of the College of Delaware, and Desirée Narango, PhD, of the College of Massachusetts — Amherst. I respect the truth, however, that Robert is not expressing a individual opinion but fairly the peer-reviewed final results of legit study. I would like to pay attention in on a debate amongst the respective researchers.
As a paperback book priced at $69.95, this may appear to be a highly-priced obtain, but I feel its 462 info-packed webpages make it a deal. If very little else, Chapter 8, “Free Fertilizers,” will promptly conserve you back again the deal with cost and additional, whilst putting your gardening on a a lot more sustainable, more environmentally welcoming route. I highly recommend this guide for any gardeners’ winter studying.
To pay attention to a conversation with Robert Kourik, log on to the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Growing Greener podcast at thomaschristophergardens.com.
Thomas Christopher is a volunteer at Berkshire Botanical Back garden and is the author or co-author of extra than a dozen textbooks. His companion broadcast to this column, Growing Greener, streams on WESUFM.org, Pacifica Radio and NPR and is obtainable at his internet site, thomaschristophergardens.com/podcast.