Gardening Naturally

7 September 2011

Gardening Naturally: A chemical-free handbook for the Prairies
by Sara Williams and Hugh Skinner
Published by Coteau Books
Review by Noelle Chorney
$24.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-449-1

“Chemical-free” and “natural” are constant buzzwords in the contemporary gardening scene. If you’ve ever wondered whether there are practical, chemical-free solutions that will work in our Prairie climate, you will appreciate the information provided by Prairie gardening experts Sara Williams and Hugh Skinner in “Gardening Naturally.”

The authors make a compelling case for reducing chemical use in gardens and outline the fundamental principles of a chemical-free garden: namely to grow healthy plants that can resist pests and diseases. Keeping your plants well fed and watered, rotating your plants, and maintaining a high level of diversity are all addressed.

The remainder of the book is broken into plant types: lawn, vegetables, flowers, and trees, with a useful diagnostic chart for each. An in-depth description of all diseases and insects that may befall your garden is included for each section, with several suggestions for control, ranging from ‘less toxic’ to entirely chemical-free alternatives. This format allows gardeners to make their own pest and disease control decisions according to their comfort level with chemicals and their level of commitment to natural gardening.

While it was a bit disconcerting to see all of the potential pests and diseases that can befall a garden, the authors make up for it by offering an arsenal of non-toxic weapons (and the assurance that many of the pests and diseases are unlikely to surface more than once in your gardening lifetime) with which to fight them.

Besides the useful information on insects and diseases in each section, which on its own makes this book a must-have for Prairie gardeners, there are several excellent references. A good example is the list of recommended vegetable cultivars, as tested by the University of Saskatchewan horticulture lab. Gardeners will enjoy that much of the trial and error work involved in gardening has been done for them.

Gardening Naturally is sure to become a well-thumbed resource in any Prairie gardener’s library.


No Comments

Comments are closed.