Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Garden Book

The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control, edited by Barbara W. Ellis and Fern Marshall Bradley. 1996 Rodale Press, Inc.

I’m enjoying browsing through this Christmas gift. You need to be really, really interested in gardening to stay with this book. Realizing that it is a reference book, I found the identification parts of the book the most valuable. I’m not so sure about the recommended controls.

The “Problem-Solving Plant Guide” starts with a plant description. The by-plant section includes flowering plants, shrubs, vegetables and fruits. Then, a list of problems the plant may have ends with page number for control information.

The section, “Insects. Recognizing Your Friends – Eliminating Your Foes,” includes everything from aphids to yellow jackets. The illustrations are small but each insect is accompanied by 2 to 6 pictures. Each insect section includes Description, Life Cycle, Beneficial Effect or Damage Control or How to Attract. The life cycle information is important since some insects can only be controlled at a specific stage of life. It’s nice to have this information in one book.

The book continues with “Diseases and Organic Controls” again with pictures. Type of Problem, Symptoms, Plants Affected, and Prevention and Control for each disease is listed.

Most of the general advice is not something we haven’t heard before. Use disease resistant plants. Clean up plant debris. Prune to insure good air flow. Eliminate weeds. Select the right plant for the space. Use compost and mulch. – a brief synopsis of good advice.

It’s a good reference book and reads like, well, a reference book. I’ll have to force myself to read through some sections. Maybe I’ll read “Diseases. Identifying the Cause – Implementing the Cures” during the next snow storm - unless Dan Brown writes a new book.

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