Posted on 15 September 2011 by urbangardencasual.com

Book Review-Eco-Yards: Simple steps to earth-friendly landscapes

Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

As a child growing up, I learned a valuable lesson in toxic chemicals and how they consume life.

May dad worked for the Board of Health and was responsible for eradicating mosquitoes.

As the habit of day required, DDT was broadcast over areas that had a mosquito problem.

When we had a mosquito problem at home, we treated the situation the same and that was with DDT tablets.

So on a bright summer day, my dad and I went to the creek and through in several handfuls of DDT. Once that was done, it was time to water my horse so down to the creek we went.

Pudd, my beloved horse, quenched his thirst in the flow of water and DDT. No one knew the consequence of this little action but I quickly learned that lesson even before the scientific studies. Pudd got sick several weeks later and developed a tumor in his throat. This tumor was untreatable and he had to be put down. I never really saw the connection until years later when I read Silent Spring and was able to understand the scientific reports.

After learning this life-changing lesson, I swore off anything that Mother Nature herself did not make. Through the years, I have been isolated by my belief until recently. My community garden is full of like-minded gardeners who are willing to let nature take its course and books are showing up to educate those who want nature to act like nature. One book I would recommend is Eco-yards: Simple steps to earth-friendly landscapes by Laureen Rama.

This book was a wonderful collection of information that can be used separately or all together. The author does not push for gardeners to follow these gardening methods but provides creditable evidence as to why one should garden this way. The reader can then decide if this approach is for them and to what extent they want to follow this approach.

Several chapters deal with the soil web concept and explain in detail the components of this ecosystem. She also describes the difference between a healthy soil ecosystem and its benefits compared to the typical soil standard of today. This soil standard of depleted, poorly developed soil creates problems that we in turn try to solve through the use of chemicals-pesticide, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers. These substances compound the problem by killing the good and bad organisms in the soil much like a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Soil is not the only area that has a beneficial ecosystem. This ecosystem can be found on the leaves and stems of plants. Again the traditional way of gardening destroys this ecosystem, which in turn forces the gardener to use more synthetic material to make the plant look better.

The wonderful solution that is proposed in this book is the creation of healthy soil. Several creditable sources are used to explain why this approach works and why it creates a sustainable environment. The secret to the creation of a healthy soil ecosystem is compost and compost tea.

To utilize the approach that is described, the first step is to create compost. Many different approaches are described throughout the book so that anyone anywhere can compost. The correct mixture of ingredients is explained along with the dos and don’ts of composting.

Once the compost is made, how to use it is described in depth. This includes lawn application, flowerbed, garden and compost tea. One chapter in the book hi-lights how to convert ones yard to a more eco-friendly environment that is healthy and native. This type of environment has a very small carbon footprint along with being low maintance.

Another approach that is explored is the concept of using aerated compost tea to treat plant disease and prevent it. The importance of aerating the compost is described in depth and hi-lights the basic principles of how Mother Nature is meant to work. The just of this principle is that healthy organisms can be applied to the surface of leaves and stems. These healthy organisms help fight off invading organisms on the leaf surface while preventing future infestations.

I could go on and on about this wonderful book that will be used as a reference for years to come. While we learn more about how to live in harmony with our surroundings, I am sure more and more will be written about the eco-yard principles.

So until we blog again, remember that diversity is the key in everything we do-from what we eat, how we exercise to what we grow and take. Weeds disguise troubling times for the soil beneath our feet while native plants wake up the sleeping beast. Plan your space by Mother Nature’s rules and everyone comes out not acting like a fool. Feed yourself along with soil health food that every beneficial organism enjoys. The end will meet the means if you let Mother Nature’s plan be by following the principles described for you and me in eons of time.

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