Saskatoon Sun Review - Gardening Naturally

Saskatoon Sun
Reviewed by: Miriam Clemence

A great gardening resource Gardening, Naturally is an all too rare resource book for Prairie gardeners. The concise text is so well researched, written and edited that every page is crammed with information on how to achieve chemical-free gardening with beautiful results. Between the tree tops and tree roots a lot can happen -good and bad. Authors Sara Williams and Hugh Skinner deal with all this in a chemical-free way. They explain how to amend or condition the soil before planting. They explore all the natural organic mulches for mixed borders and vegetable gardens. There are new ideas and products for mulching to conserve water, reduce weeds and control diseases. For example, the authors favour natural organic mulches because they serve as shelter and become the overwintering sites of ladybugs.

Everything about lawn care is here -the latest organic methods of fertilizing and two new controls for the ever-present dandelion. You'll find that Williams and Skinner have thoroughly researched the prevention and solutions for dealing with or preventing damaging insects and pervasive weeds. For diseases there are extensive lists of resistant cultivars as well as preventive techniques such as plant placement and chemical-free solutions. There are chapters devoted specifically to solving problems and finding solutions for fruit, vegetables, lawns, flowers, bulbs, vines, and trees and shrubs. The introductory chapters deal with topics like: Why garden without chemicals?, Getting Started (Choosing resistant varieties, rotation, mulching, diversity, etc.), and Growing Healthier Plants (light, space, soil, organic fertilizers and amendments, water, and mulch). These are followed by chapters that give you the basics on chemical-free weed, insect and disease control. Each of the later chapters begins with a diagnostic chart that explains prevention and solution strategies for the insects, diseases and disorders most commonly found on the Prairies. These problems range from newly introduced insects such as the lily beetle and emerald ash borer, to the slugs and Colorado potato beetles that have been here for decades, to diseases from fire blight to late blight and disorders such as blossom end rot.

The chapter on perennial weeds caused me to smile. When I took over stewardship of my yard 32 years ago, the creeping bellflower ( campanula rapunculoides/ ) was already a resident. It is found in a border with trees, shrubs and perennials. For all this time, I've been digging as much and as deeply and repeatedly as possible, but it's still my 'constant campanula." Seriously, these two horticulturalists have provided a great resource for Prairie gardeners whether they are novice or seasoned, caring for acreages or a few patio containers. The choice of photographs throughout, and the superb quality of the reproduction, ensures that you'll make no mistake in identifying your problem and finding out how to deal with, or avoid, the issue in the future. This beautifully-designed book has a sturdy cover over a sewn binding that assures you years of thumbing-through. Even the book itself is an example of environmental virtuousness. By printing on chlorine-free paper made with 10% post-consumer waste the following resources were saved: 3 fully-grown trees, 1306 gallons of water, 79 pounds of solid waste, and 271 pounds of greenhouse gases. Published by Coteau Books (Regina) and available for $24. 95 from your local bookseller.

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