Last year I gave a brief tour of the garden for my local Master Gardeners. Although I heard a lot of compliments, I knew already that the actual health of the garden was poor and I was yielding many vegetables that were no better than that available in the store. Anyways, during the presentation I had commented that books on Organic Gardening left a lot to be desired. One of the Master Gardeners, Julie McElroy asked me about that.
Yes, Organic Gardening books do leave a lot to be desired. I certainly respect the hard work of each author, and I am sure it was edited many times and tailored to suit a particular audience. I was that audience not long ago, but now I want REAL FOOD and those books just don’t typically offer that. The problems are varied, but I do see three common themes.
The first is that there is no education, discussion or instruction about food quality. Organic Gardening & Farming continues to produce products no better than conventional agriculture all the while claiming the virtues. This is why we farm to begin with, human and animal nourishment. I am sure there are organic farms out there producing high quality products, and there are exactly zero conventional farms doing it, it’s just that those organic farms are probably one in a thousand. I even found one locally, one and only one, that produced higher quality products. Unfortunately after several conversations with the grower it seems it was due to a lucky situation than anything the he deliberately practiced.
Second, most of the books continue to attack the symptoms of problems and are either unaware, or ignore, the actual causes. By symptoms I mean insect attack, nutritional deficiencies, disease, weeds, etc. Many of the books even give ecologically damaging recommendations to “correct” them. These problems and the solutions have been well documented for 100 years now but continue to be ignored.
And lastly, none of them provide you with any real and actionable information about plant energy and nutrition. This I believe is because hardly anyone knows anymore. You tell a lie long enough and it becomes truth. The model used by the petrochemical industry for the last 65 years works very well to sell NPK water soluble inorganic fertilizers. It is however not the only model, and it certainly isn’t capable of producing the kind of quality real health is made of.
What Organic Gardening book would I recommend? Well I do have a handful I reference form time to time for various reasons, but they only fleetingly cover these topics if at all. The reality is that there just isn’t one. I get more useful information out of books on agriculture now. My hope in writing this blog is to delve deeply into these subjects and reveal it in a clear manner and illustrate its success, or lack there of. Perhaps someday I will make that book.