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Digging Deep in the Garden: Book Four…
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Digging Deep in the Garden: Book Four (Volume 1)

by John Walker

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This is the fourth, and so far final, book in John Walker's "Digging Deep" series, based on magazine articles he wrote for a number of years. The aim of the series is to look back at the state of "earth-friendly", organic gardening and the horticultural trade that is often at odds with it. This is done against the backdrop of climate change effects, advertiser driven media and good old fashioned weather influences on gardeners.

The articles in the book cover a number of topics, including the organic-vs-non-organic food debate, the damage the peat free composts inflict on the eco-system, the amount of oil we use (directly and indirectly) in our gardens, and how we (and the gardening trade) should get more "water wise" to help deal with droughts.

John says that his aim was to challenge people and rattle a few cages, and apparently some of these articles did just that when published originally in the magazines. I don't know how much cage rattling this book will manage: the people who had cages that needed rattling aren't likely to be its main purchasers or readers (though it might do some of them and us good if they did!).

John doesn't limit himself to poking sticks at the horticultural trade and "conventional" gardeners: he's happy to take aim at what would be thought of as "green" friendly groups as well with diatribes against effectiveness of "community gardening" and the amount of fossil oil organic gardeners can still consume. For those of us that can stop and think rather than raging back, these might be useful things to contemplate.

One complaint I do have is that John occasionally seems to support science and then in another article pokes fun of it. This "cherry picking" of the results of scientific investigations undermines some of his arguments and is more reminiscent of the antics of "climate deniers". For example whilst the FSA report on nutritional content of organic versus non-organic food leaves him reaching for "feelings" that the scientists wouldn't be able to measure, he later objects to pro-peat garden writers ignoring the science behind climate changing effects of peat extraction.

Aside from that, it is a useful little book of articles and anecdotes from the front lines of organic gardening in the war of attrition with "conventional", costly, planet damaging horticulture. Something greener gardeners should at least read, if not have on their bookshelves to refer to and show to less green gardening friends. Just don't expect to agree with it all. Where would the fun be in that, eh?
  jimll | Dec 11, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0993268374, Paperback)

Gardening with your gut instincts... growing your own edible resilience... why money can't buy 'the good life'... unpicking media delusions about peat use... kicking our addiction to oil in our gardens... the compelling power of asking questions. In this diverse, insightful and engaging collection of essays exploring gardening's place in nature, John Walker exposes illusions, debunks myths and wipes away greenwash, rallying us to challenge and change the over-consuming, nature-indifferent approach to 'gardening as usual'.

This fourth and final book of John's earth-friendly garden writing, originally published in Kitchen Garden magazine as his popular and long-running series 'Digging Deep', includes 'Kicking the habit', which won the Garden Media Guild Environmental Award in 2010.

John Walker has been growing plants since he could walk, holds the Kew Diploma in Horticulture, and is an award-winning gardening and environment author, writer, blogger and micropublisher. Despite occasional squirrel-fuelled frustration, he is enjoying eking a new earth- and climate-friendly garden from a once bracken-riddled hillside at his home in Snowdonia, North Wales.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 10 Dec 2016 12:53:16 -0500)

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