The 2011 Garden Writers of America Gold Award for Best Book proves soil is anything but an inert substance. Healthy soil is teeming with life – not just earthworms and insects, but a staggering multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. When we use chemical fertilizers, we injure the microbial life that sustains healthy plants, and thus become increasingly dependent on an arsenal of artificial substances, many of them toxic to humans as well as other forms of life. But there is an alternative to this vicious circle: to garden in a way that strengthens, rather than destroys, the soil food web – the complex world of soil-dwelling organisms whose interactions create a nurturing environment for plants. By eschewing jargon and overly technical language, the authors make the benefits of cultivating the soil food web available 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.
Jeff Lowenfels has been writing an award-winning garden column for the Anchorage Dispatch News for over forty years. He is the founder of Plant a Row for the Hungry, a program that encourages all gardeners to donate one row to feed the hungry. A popular national garden writer and leading proponent of gardening using the concepts of the soil food web, Jeff is the former president of the Garden Writers Association. He lives in Anchorage, Alaska, and Portland, Oregon.
Wayne Lewis is a lifelong Alaskan gardener. He has worked with Jeff on many projects over the past 25 years, including the now national Plant a Row for the Hungry program (started in Anchorage by Jeff), which encourages gardeners to donate a portion of their harvest to charitable organizations in their community.
"All good gardeners know healthy plants start with healthy soil. But why? And how? In Teaming with Microbes Lowenfels and Lewis reveal the new research in the most practical and accessible way."
– Kym Pokorny, Oregonian
"Required reading for all serious gardeners."
– Miami Herald
"A must read for any gardener looking to create a sustainable, healthy garden without chemicals."
– Norfolk Virginian-Pilot
"Sure, it's a gardening book, but it has all the drama and suspense of an extraterrestrial thriller. A cast of characters without eyeballs or backbones. Battle scenes with bizarre creatures devouring one another. Only this book is about as terrestrial as it gets."
– Anchorage Daily News
"Digs into soil in a most enlightening and entertaining way."
– Dallas Morning News
"Read this book and you'll never think of soil the same way."
– Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"This intense little book may well change the way you garden."
– St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"A breakthrough book [...] well worth owning and reading. No comprehensive horticultural library should be without it."
– American Gardener