Book Review: The Truth About Organic Gardening

The Truth About Organic GardeningI find organic gardening to be an odd beast. A search on the internet would have you believe that the gardening world is overwhelmingly organic fanatics, while anyone who uses any sort of chemicals is akin to rapists and Osama Bin Laden .

I have long found this view to be disturbing. Just because something is natural does not mean it is good. Cocaine, heroine and dog feces are natural elements, but I am not so sure that you would want to put these natural, plant and animal derived bi-products in your body (unless you were rich, famous and wanted to die at the height of your career).

So when I was approached to review the book “The Truth about Organic Gardening” by Jeff Gillman, I was intrigued. You mean the organic world is not black and white? You mean that the national media is allowing the people to publish information that does not follow the politically correct lines that the world should all be organic and those who are not, are slowly killing the Mother Earth?

The book covers the pros and cons of both organic and chemical treatments for your garden, and almost every treatment has a pro and con. The information was unbiased and laid out so that you could make an informed decision on what treatment works best for your situation.

What was even better was that I found the book to be well organized, so that it could be a reference book when you needed it. Want to add corn gluten to your garden? You can find that quickly and see if that would be a good choice for your yard. Thinking of using Round-up? You can find out hard facts (as opposed to fanatical rhetoric) to decide if this is a good choice for your garden.

I also like the fact that Dr. Gillman touches on a subject that is frequently left out of all the talk about organic gardening, and that is the local aspect. For example, using diatomaceous earth is technically “organic” but how much a part of the environmental moment is it if you ship it in from 3,000+ miles away?

This is a book that I felt had no hidden agenda, but really did lay out the facts clearly so that you could decide the best options for your garden.

As an extra bonus, I was able to interview Dr. Gillman, so if you pop on in tomorrow, you can read that interview. You can find out a little more about the man who dares to buck the popular media opinion that organic is the only answer.

I do recommend that you read this book and its companion, The Truth about Garden Remedies. It is time we took back the gardening world and made it what it was intended to be, a hobby (or obsession) and not a political agenda.

Other Reviews of the Book:

12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Truth About Organic Gardening
  1. Very interesting, thanks for posting about this. I’ll definitely read these. I garden partly organically and partly not, it just depends on what seems practical and effective. I too have always been kind of turned off by the true-believer organic approach.

    My favorite veggie gardening books are Steve Solomon’s “Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades” and “Gardening When It Counts.” He definitely uses organic methods, but from a skeptical, pragmatic point of view.


  2. I really wish I had this book for my research paper on organic gardening. I am looking forward to reading your interview and reading the book for myself. My husband and I are going to start a vegetable garden and add more flowers this year. Thanks for the book review.


  3. Sounds like a great book. I have continual dilemmas with organic vs. chemical when dealing with some of the tough bugs we have here in Texas.
    A book with a very similar agenda and layout is Omnivore’s Dilemma by Pollan. I found it fascinating. He was quite honest with information that the corporate organic movement may not be any better for the planet than current chemical methods. He chose to tell both sides of the story—sounds very much like the book you are recommending.
    I guess you can see I’m new here—I enjoy your blog a great deal.


  4. I purchased this book not long ago…you’ve made me want to put it on top the pile of to-be-read books.


  5. jenny on

    Thank the heavens! A garden blogger who is sane! At least from my point of view.
    There are certain rants I have had to stop reading because they could not shut up about how morally superior they are because they are soooo organic. Please! The day in and day out self love fest and political sniping was more than I could take. I want to read about gardening for petes sake! I am all about organic practices if they make sense and are do-able. Since I dont garden for a living I dont have all day to hand pick every bug and pre-chew my leaves before putting them in the compost pile. And if some fungus or insect thinks its coming between me and my tomatoes, I will use sevin dust my friend and I wont be sorry for it. I have read The truth about organic garden remedies and was quite enlightened by it. Thanks for the recommend, and rock on, Ive read your blog almost since the beginning.


  6. Melanie on

    I don’t like to use pesticides and herbicides. I don’t want to kill the bees and all of the “good” bugs. What’s a few chewed leaves??? Use plenty of compost, rotate your crops and occasionally use some insecticidal soap. As soon as my father sees a bug he gets out the Sevin or Malathion. I worry about all of the exposure he’s getting. A lot of people are not careful when they use this stuff. I saw my neighbor dumping out her pump sprayer into the storm drain or spraying on a very windy day. NOT COOL!


  7. I had to chuckle…

    My husband is Hopi Indian, and the Hopi are traditionally farmers. They DO, in fact use dog feces as a fertilizer/pest repellant in their fields. It is apparently rather effective at keeping the bunnies away. My daughter had the delightful experience, while visiting relatives last summer, of collecting dog poop in a coffee can, to be then mixed with water and sprinkled around the base of all the plants in the field. EWWWWWWW!

    I agree, “organic” is not always a good thing!


  8. Renata on

    I really appreciate this review. Congratulations on 2 years of blogging. I only found your blog last week and I really enjoy reading it. It makes me think and I learn much from it too.


  9. Thanks for the thumbs up review on the organic gardening book.

    Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the term we learned in Master Gardener classes. Basically, it means that we try to use as few chemicals as possible. Start with the organic methods first and if they don’t work move to harsher chemistry.

    Organic purists recommend Neem Oil. Environmentalists and those in the sustainable agriculture movement say the production of Neem Oil is bad for the people who produce it.

    Sigh. No one answer is perfect. It sounds like Dr. Gillman’s book is well-timed.


  10. Sounds like Hannah has a huge chemical chip on her shoulder. I’ll put in the extra work and live organic. By the way, Heroin (opium derivative) was originally marketed by Bayer as a cure to get addicts away from morhpine. Cocaine is used medically (next time tell the dentist you don’t want the novacaine. Dog excrement is what it is. Cocaine and Heroin are not naturally occuring (unlike dog poop), but are made from coca (sp?) and opium. Based on such a highly biased review, I’ll seek this book out and buy it. My husband is a Mohawk Indian and neither of us mind the extra effort involved in living a healthier life.


  11. Hanna on

    You did not read the article all the way through, eh?

    Anyway, sorry, but I am not spouting fiction when I say that the world’s population cannot survive on an organic based system. That was the whole reason fertilizers were invented in the first place. Organic is a luxury of the wealthy.

    It is time we as a planet started to really look at what we are doing, both organically and chemically, and make an educated decision on how we want to run things. Relying on “he said she said” on both sides will only lead to serious loss of life.

    That is why I like this book. It is only real science and not privledged Americans who think they know what is best for the rest of the world.


  12. Ron B on

    Petrochemical fertilizers are the luxury, not traditional sustainable farming methods. Western corporations push oil-based fertilizers because they are a source of revenue for them, not because they are the best choice for poor farmers.


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