Garden Book: ‘The Truth About Organic Gardening’ (Google / Seattlepi)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Garden Book: ‘The Truth About Organic Gardening’

By Jeff Gillman

(Timber, 208 pages, $12.95)

This inexpensive paperback is sure to cause controversy and heated discussion. Which is exactly why the author, an associate professor of horticulture, wrote it. He wants gardeners to think beyond the dogma and look at the facts about so-called organic gardening practices.

He warns to stay away from all compost teas until scientific research can prove they do not contain scary human pathogens. (He also cites a plethora of studies that call the teas useless.) He also is concerned about the safety of Neem, considers nicotine effective but just too dangerous to use, and calls Rotenone his least favorite pesticide.

Although Rotenone is effective on insects and is considered “organic,” he says it is such an environmental hazard that he questions the sanity of any gardener using the product.

More scientific studies on the effectiveness and safety of citrus oil, hot pepper sprays and the use of beer to catch slugs are next, and these studies are reassuring — with some warnings about citrus oil. More controversial statements follow.

Gilman would never consider buying praying mantises or ladybugs as they don’t stick around, but he says studies do support the safety and effectiveness of insecticidal soaps on soft-bodied insects such as aphids and mites, and baking soda and water on powdery mildew.

(continued)What this book does is introduce more than 100 products and planting techniques and cite the latest university tests and factual results so that gardeners can make responsible choices and not continue to link the words “organic,” “safe” and “effective” so firmly in their minds.

— Marianne Binetti

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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