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The Intelligent Gardener
Growing Nutrient-Dense Food
Vegetables, fruits and grains are a major source of vital nutrients, but centuries of intensive agriculture have depleted our soils to historic lows. As a result, the broccoli you consume today may have less than half the vitamins and minerals that the equivalent serving would have contained a hundred years ago. This is a matter of serious concern, since poor nutrition has been linked to myriad health problems including cancer, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. For optimum health we must increase the nutrient density of our foods to the levels enjoyed by previous generations.
To grow produce of the highest nutritional quality the essential minerals lacking in our soil must be replaced, but this re-mineralization calls for far more attention to detail than the simple addition of composted manure or NPK fertilizers. The Intelligent Gardener demystifies the process, while simultaneously debunking much of the false and misleading information perpetuated by both the conventional and organic agricultural movements. In doing so, it conclusively establishes the link between healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people.
This practical step-by-step guide and the accompanying customizable web-based spreadsheets go beyond organic and are essential tools for any serious gardener who cares about the quality of the produce they grow.
Steve Solomon is a well-known west coast gardener and author of five previous books, including Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades which has appeared in five editions.
Erica Reinheimer has nurtured a life-long passion for gardening. After plunging into organic vegetable gardening, she began to experiment with the use of seed meal, soil testing, and supplemental minerals-all with outstanding results. This in turn led her to start successful home greenhouse and garden design businesses, helping others nourish their soils. Erica tries to remember everyday that as one shapes the garden, so does the garden shape you.
"A new book from Steve Solomon is reason for excitement in itself. With The Intelligent Gardener, he has re-thought one of the most basic aspects of gardening - basic soil chemistry - and generously supplied us with sensible, practical methods to increase the nutrient density of the food we grow. This book forces serious growers to reconsider some fundamental gardening principles, and to question much of the accepted wisdom on the subject. It's hard to imagine this book not having a significant and lasting impact on the way organic farmers and gardeners grow their crops."
Mark McDonald, West Coast Seeds
"The true test of any gardening book is whether it inspires the grower to new action. The Intelligent Gardener indeed inspires me to action, to test my soils more thoroughly, to re-examine my assumptions on compost management and to seek to improve the nutritional value of our produce with a better understanding of our farm's soil. Steve Solomon draws on his years of experience and research to challenge our assumptions of what is good organic soil management and to share his insights for growing the highest quality, nutrient dense food. We are what we eat, and our food is only as healthful as the soil we grow it in. The Intelligent Gardener is a valuable tool for anyone seeking to get the highest food value from their garden."
Darrell Frey, author of Bioshelter Market Garden
"The Intelligent Gardener is more than just "intelligent", it is bold, it is courageous, and it challenges many of our preconceptions about food, about soils, about farming, and about health. The storytelling is excellent, the science based on experience rather than some out of context lab experiment, the advice and application easy to follow. Everyone should read this, not just gardeners, as it reminds us of where we came from, where we need to go, and provides some clear direction for getting there."
Michael Ableman is a farmer, author of From The Good Earth, On Good Land, and Fields of Plenty.
"Gardeners in temperate climates should be very grateful to Steve Solomon for addressing the issues of soil testing for fertility in such an engaging and clear way. I look forward to spending time working with the technical methodology."
Binda Colebrook, Horticulturist and author of Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest
Acid Soil Worksheet, Excess Cations Worksheet, Calcareous Soil Worksheet. There are three worksheets, each one is two pages long. Make as many copies as you need. I suggest photocopying them back-to-back, so the entire worksheet is on a single sheet of paper.