Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide

Brand: Average Rating 52 reviews Teaming With Microbes enlightens readers in two important ways. First, in clear, straightforward language, it desc...

Average Rating
52 reviews

Teaming With Microbes enlightens readers in two important ways. First, in clear, straightforward language, it describes the activities of the organisms that make up the soil food web, from the simplest of single-cell organisms to more familiar multicellular animals such as insects, worms, and mammals. Second, the book explains how to foster and cultivate the life of the soil through the use of compost, mulches, and compost teas. By eschewing jargon, the authors make the text accessible to a wide audience, from devotees of organic gardening techniques to weekend gardeners who simply want to grow healthy, vigorous plants without resorting to chemicals. more info

15 Responses to “Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide”

  1. OldRoses says:

    Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    I was disheartened to read in the Preface to “Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web” that the first part of the book would be difficult to get through. I pressed on. Very science-y. An excellent sleep inducer. No joke. I did fall asleep while reading it one warm afternoon. But it was definitely worth it. Like the authors, I urge you to read the entire book and not just the second part which is the heart of the book.

    Their argument boils down to one sentence: “No one ever fertilized an old-growth forest”. Think about all the wild places you have ever seen, lush with growth. How did they get that way without the help of Scott’s or Miracle-Gro? And if Scott’s and Miracle-Gro are so superior, why don’t our yards and gardens look better than those wild places?

    The authors’ thesis is that we should garden like Nature gardens, working with the flora and fauna in the soils rather than against it through the use of compost, organic mulches and actively aerated compost tea. Best of all, they provide precise instructions and call for materials that most of us have on hand anyways. No need for expensive ingredients or equipment!

    I was thrilled to discover that I am not a “lazy composter” as I have always thought. Instead, I practice cold composting (not turning the compost), a method that produces the most “nutritious” compost! And what I jokingly refer to as “composting in situ”, using the mower to shred up leaves and dumping them with the grass clippings onto my beds in the fall is actually a recommended mulch. As are the leaves I leave in my gardens over the winter. The only thing I am doing wrong is removing the leaves in the spring. And my deepest, darkest secret is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead of carefully working my compost into the soil, I just spread it on top. Again, a recommended method for amending the soil!

    Of course, there are things that I have to do differently. Such as leaving the leaves on my beds. And even though I don’t roto-till, I should still stop “loosening” the soil in the spring when I plant my seeds. The soil should be disturbed as little as possible. Planting in individual holes or narrow furrows is fine. I should learn to make and use actively aerated compost teas. Perhaps most importantly instead of throwing anything and everything into my composter, I should pay closer attention to the individual ingredients and their proportions, maybe go so far as to have different composters to make compost tailored to the needs of the various plants in my gardens.

    This is a wonderful book that I will be referring to again and again.

  2. kaukaty says:

    Detailed and Understandable
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    I live in Hawaii and have been struggling with my garden for two years now. Some of the gardeners in the area have turned to the method in this book. They are very successful. I am changing over and will be ready by next spring to go with this guide. I can’t say that it works for me as it will be a year or so for me to really know, however, I am more than anxious to begin. I feel positive about the method from what I have seen with the successful gardeners nearby.

  3. T. Spain says:

    This reading is a MUST
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    This book is a must for the gardener, organic or not. I spent most of my gardening life not really understanding the nature of how things grow. This book explains it very good, especially for the non scientist/novice lke me. If you read it you will learn and if you follow it’s principles you will have a better and more beautiful garden/lawn etc with less disease and insect problems without the use of chemicals or poisons of any kind…A MUST READ FOR THE GARDEN HOBBIEST!!! ********** ( I give it ten stars!)

  4. Otis H. Johnson says:

    Outstanding book!
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    This book helped to fill in lots of blanks for me regarding the soil food web. I am a Master Composter and worm farmer and while I was aware these principals work I was not aware how they work. I will recommend this book to many others and use it to help teach schoolchildren in my volunteer work. Thanks for a great job.

  5. Cal Varnson says:

    Embarrassed by my ignorance
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    Prior to reading this book, I was one of the millions of Americans who bought into the wonders of “Miracle Grow” & “Turf Builder”. Oh how wrong I was. After reading this wonderful book on the importance of the amazing world of soil, I’ve sworn off my dependence on these synthetic fertilizers in favor of compost & compost teas.

    In part one of the book , the author does a fantastic job of educating the readers on the make-up of soil. Then in part two, the author provides the readers with helpful soil improvement techniques that will hopefully wean America of its fascination with synthetic fertilizers. Every gardener should have a copy of this book in their library.

  6. Terry D. Shear says:

    5 stars
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    Never in my right mind did I think I would find interest and excitement in something I could not see or understand: soil microbes!

    It was a challenging and delightful read because of the clarity of content, the authors understanding of the Soil Food Web, and interesting fashion in which it was presented. I feel a whole new world has been opened up to explore and understand.

    If you are interested in soil science, organic gardening, and how it all comes together, this is an excellent book to read. You may only be “scratching the surface” to an intricate and delicate science but it is enough to understand the basics and lay a foundation for further study.

  7. Southern Gardener says:

    Buy this if you want a beautiful garden, now and the future. Feed the soil!!
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    I dislike reading books but I found this book easy and fun to read. There are many technical/scientific explainations in this book but it still makes very good sense…common sense to a gardener perhaps. Through many years of gardening (usually ‘organic’) I found that a lot of what I have read I believe to be true; i.e. through experience it works! Some of the new things I’ve learned from this book I’ve tried and they appear to be working as well.

    I’m not an organic gardening ‘purist’ but I guess I’ve always taken care of the soil; using leaves, compost, cow/chicken manures, etc. without even realizing how healthy I was keeping my soil. Bottom line…my neighbors can’t seem to compete even though THEY try. Hey, I’m just gardening 🙂

  8. K. JEFFREYS says:

    This book will change your life
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    From the first page through the last, this book is interesting. All of the little gardening mysteries that plagued me for so long are finally revealed in this book. I’ve heard the phrase “fixing nitrogen” for so long but never had it explained to me in a way that convinced me it wasn’t just mumbo jumbo. This book explains what that means and why it is so important. I question everyting until it makes perfect sense to me. This book really makes sense. Read the instructions on a bag of organic fertilizer and it often says something like scratch the fertilizer into the top inch of soil around the plant. I always questioned this, because I knew my plants roots went way deeper than one inch and very few of them resided in the top inch of soil. If the product is really water soluable then maybe it will eventually soak into the root zone but most aren’t. This book explains that you’re not really feeding your plant directly. You are feeding the microbes that reside in that top inch of soil and they interact with one another in many fascinating ways that end up feeding your plant. If you are a gardener with an inquisitive mind, you will love this book I promise. I think the author is also working on a second edition. I can’t wait.

  9. David Moffitt says:

    Real Gardeners Don’t Need Miracles
    Rating:4 out of 5 stars
    In an interview, Jeff Lowenfels had made a comment about using Miracle-Gro products. Then in introducing this book, Teaming with Microbes, stated that he would never use it again. My mind asked me “Why?”, and so the book was immediately ordered, received, and read. If you don’t know the harm that synthetic fertilizers are doing to your soil and gardens, then you too need to read this book. Not very entertaining like reading a Jerry Baker Garden Tonics Book, but very informative of how to keep your soil healthy. High School biology explained in lamens terms.

    David Moffitt


  10. Investors Friend says:

    Very enlightening unfortunately “Organic” is not always organic
    Rating:4 out of 5 stars
    I like mostly everyone liked this book; it opened my eyes to a better way to garden. The jury is still out on “Compost Tea”, very little true long-term scientific trials so far, and E.Coli can be quickly introduced into the soil if brewed with poor compost and molasses, and/or poor equipment, for further reading go to the microbeorganics web site. Some “Organic” ingredients are not always organic, currently “Inert Ingredients”, which could be non-organic, are not required to be listed. As far as balancing the best uses of “Organic” and non-organic “The Truth About Organic Gardening: Benefits, Drawbacks, and the Bottom Line” by Jeff Gillman would be an excellent follow-up read to this book, as well as “Gaia’s Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture” by Toby Hemenway. All-in-all an excellent book but the brewing thing should be handled very carefully; it is not a fix-all and could be very dangerous if not done properly. Finally rotor-tilling one time can actually be good for poor soil, just one time only not every year. Then consider “Sheet Mulching”, so much easier.

  11. J. Lipstate says:

    excellent beginner’s overview to soil
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    this book provided a good start to what is really going on in soil, and opened my eyes to additional downsides of traditional petrol based NPK fertilizers along with the various pesticides that must accompany them. I do wish that it had gone into depth slightly more on the interactions in soil, however I realize that that would be beyond the scope of the book.

  12. Stanley says:

    Must read!
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    This is simply a fantastic read. Too often, the word “organic” can turn people off as an offshoot of hippy-mysticism. Here, the authors counter that by laying out the solid “science & logic” of letting nature do more of the work that traditionally breaks the gardener’s back, wallet, and good cheer.

    Balanced, pragmatic, and entertaining; this is a must read for gardeners spanning the full spectrum from Iowan adherents of industrial agriculture, to Oregon vegan granola farmers. A GREAT companion book to this is The Living Garden: The 400-year History of an English Garden by George Ordish.

  13. Mark says:

    If you are ready to take it a step further.
    Rating:4 out of 5 stars
    This book is not for everyone. The first half as the author refers to it is a science book in every meaning. Details, facts, vocabulary are all present. I’ve had a fair amount of science in college but never in this area. I’ll admit it was a bit slow at the start. But once you get to the second half it all falls into place. When he starts to discuss different composts, you understand what is in them, what purpose they serve, because he’s already given you the background.

    Cons not for everyone.

  14. Bob Groke says:

    teaming microbes
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    it was suggested by a Master Gardner that we get this book. Came fast. I also work at our local library and we ordered it.

  15. daggeline says:

    Really a “must have” if you’re an organic gardener
    Rating:5 out of 5 stars
    I’m gardening since 20yrs, the last decade I attempted an organic approach and failed – I got slugs and snails and all pests you can imagine.

    After reading this book I know why and how to “heal” my garden.

    I will recommand the book to all my friends.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.