‘Sustainable Vegetable Gardening’, A Highly Recommended Winter Read For Those Who Want To Grow Environmentally Friendly Foods | Home & Garden


“Sustainable Food Gardens”, Robert Kourik’s new book, is a must-read for those who want to grow their own food in an environmentally friendly way. “Myths and Solutions”, its subtitle, is something that Robert spends a lot of text on exposing the first and proposing the second.






SustainableFoodGardens cover_6.pdf

“Sustainable food gardens: myths and solutions”.




I must at this point share the fact that I have been an admirer of Robert Kourik’s work for many years, and that I have written the preface to this book. I do not profit financially from its sales, even if I intend to exploit it in my garden.

As the wife of a scientist and someone trained to research evidence-based solutions, I often get frustrated with the gardening media, where opinions easily pass as fact and tradition wins. generally on science. Robert’s writings are refreshing in this regard. He is a keen researcher and avid reader of horticultural journals and reports. He’s not afraid to contradict popular opinion, although he’s more interested in getting to the root of the problem (special knowledge of plant roots, for that matter, and how their habits affect growth. and caring for plants is one of Robert’s accomplishments and the subject of a chapter in this book).

Robert has had his hands in the ground for a long time. He started one of the first organic landscaping companies in this country in 1974 and he is always experimenting with new techniques and testing new methods. He was a personal friend of, say, Bill Mollison, half of the Australian duo that founded the permaculture movement, and Robert shares the insights he learned from this pioneer of sustainable gardening. Robert isn’t slow to stray from permaculture dogma, however, when he finds it at odds with peer-reviewed horticultural studies or his own experience. Indeed, Robert devotes 25 pages to a largely positive critique of permaculture, however suggesting ways to adjust his teachings to better reflect the realities of American suburban gardening.

Did the summer rains inundate your garden?  Instead of wringing your hands, roll up your sleeves and become a 'climate sensitive' gardener

Robert does not hesitate to denounce his own mistakes either. He devotes an entire page of this book to denouncing a list of the “dynamic accumulators” which he published in 1986. Dynamic accumulators are plants which, by the action of their roots, dissolve and concentrate in their tissues. minerals from the soil, making them ultimately available to their less enterprising neighbors in the garden. Robert has since questioned the reliability of his sources for the original list, and while he still maintains the value of the concept, he includes lists in this present book based on more reliable research such as the meticulous work of the late James Duke, PhD, US Department of Agriculture.

Sustainable Food Gardens is a remarkably comprehensive guide that will benefit both novice and experienced gardeners, ranging from the details of ‘Nurturing the Soil’ to ‘Attracting Beneficial Insects’ and’ Designing Sustainable Gardens. He even included a chapter on “” Sustainable Garden Game “, as there should be room in such a guide for ideas on how to create children’s games, as well as a recipe for persimmon margaritas. (as well as many others, including “mocktails” for those who prefer their drinks and play to be alcohol-free).

I don’t always agree with Robert. For example, he cites in this book publications by Professor Arthur Shapiro, University of California, Davis, which highlight the beneficial role introduced plants play in harboring butterflies and caterpillars in the California suburbs. This seems to me to be contradicted by the findings of environmentalists such as Douglas Tallamy, PhD, of the University of Delaware, and Desirée Narango, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. I respect the fact, however, that Robert is not expressing a personal opinion but rather the peer-reviewed results of legitimate research. I would love to listen to a debate between the respective scientists.

As a paperback priced at $ 69.95, it might seem like an expensive buy, but I think its informative 462 pages make it a steal. At the very least, Chapter 8, “Free Fertilizers,” will quickly save you the cover price and more, while putting your gardening on a more sustainable and environmentally friendly path. I highly recommend this book for any gardener’s winter reading.

To listen to a conversation with Robert Kourik, tune into the Berkshire Botanical Garden‘s Growing Greener podcast at thomaschristophergardens.com.

Thomas Christopher volunteers at the Berkshire Botanical Garden and is the author or co-author of over a dozen books. His featured companion, Growing Greener, airs on WESUFM.org, Pacifica Radio and NPR and is available on his website, thomaschristophergardens.com/podcast.


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