Review of The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control

A Complete Problem-Solving Guide to Keeping Your Garden and Yard Healthy Without Chemicals by Barbara W. Ellis (Editor), Fern Marshall Bradley (Editor), Helen Atthowe (Editor)

This book written by Barbara W. Ellis entitled Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control: A Complete Problem-Solving Guide to Keeping Your Garden and Yard Healthy without Chemicals promises to end garden enthusiasts’ challenges by using safe and effective solutions. The handbook works like an encyclopedia showing easy-to-use problem solving methods for protecting more than 200 garden crops like fruits, herbs, flowers, trees, and shrubs. It also has a fully detailed directions on how, when, and where to use precautionaryapproaches, insect traps and barricades, biocontrols, homemade remedies, botanical insecticides, and more. What make this organic gardening book stand out are its illustrations. It has more than 350 color photos for quick identification of insect pests, beneficial insects, and plant diseases.

This New York Times Best Gardening Book offers a comprehensive guide to growing plants without the use of toxic chemical pesticides as featuredon its photographs and drawings of plants, pests, and diseases. It was updated and is loaded with the latest and safest organic controls. Here are some of the practical advised a gardener whether a new one or an expert one the handbook has given:

  • Don’t start spraying chemicals around just because a few bugs dot the garden
  • identify the insects present in the garden for they may be in fact be helpful predators
  • If insects are pests, identify the extent of their damage before deciding on eradicating or accepting them
  • Plant appropriate cultivars, mulching, seasonal cleanup to keep harmful insects and diseases from getting infesting the garden
  • Be careful with your wood protection: floors, tables, walls and everything. Always prefer a natural protection as oil to the chemical products (eg. https://www.oleobois.com/fr/42-terrasse)

Aside from these practical tips on maintaining a pest and toxin free garden, the book strongly advocates preventive cultural methods rather than aggressive use of pesticides which can cause harm for both plants and people who will eat them. The book also gives guide on if you should be alarmed if you see red blisters on the currant leaves or white powder residue in the lilac bushes. The book is an excellent troubleshooting guide great for beginners. Another unique feature of the book is its glossary of popular grown edible and ornamental plants. Not only that, the alphabetical list also shows symptoms and their remedies, all cross-referenced to illustrated entries for insects and diseases and cultural, biological and “organically acceptable” chemical control methods.

This well-ordered, clearly written book is composed of four parts: Your Healthy Garden, Insects, Diseases, and Controls. The fundamentalcore part of the book is the first section, a plant-by-plant guide to pests and diseases. These entries are in scientific name arranged alphabetical from Abies through Zinnia , and include culture data. Entries in the sections on insects and diseases are demonstrated by color photographs. Although the insect information given is helpful, it is incomplete compared with Bernice Lifton’s Bug Busters: Poison-Free Controls for Your House & Garden. However, Bug Busters gives inadequatedata on plants. Thus, the two books complement each other nicely, and many gardeners will want both. Also included in this handbook are a U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone map and a list of sources. It is highly recommended for gardening collections.

Overall, this book is an excellent and indispensable source to any and all gardeners, landscaper’s, growers, etc., professional and laymen alike. It is a must-have reference book for all gardeners of flowers, vegetables and plants. The handbook is a great choice for those who want to continue growing a healthy and safe garden.

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