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Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web (Revised Edition)

By Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis

Should be required reading for everyone lucky enough to own a piece of land.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Smart gardeners know that 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 become increasingly dependent on an arsenal of artificial, often toxic, substances. But there is an alternative to this vicious cycle. We can garden in a way that strengthens the soil food web — the complex world of soil-dwelling organisms whose interactions create a nurturing environment for plants.

Teaming with Microbes extols the benefits of cultivating the soil food web. First, it clearly explains the activities and organisms that make up the web. Next, it explains how gardeners can cultivate the life of the soil through the use of compost, mulches, and compost tea. The revised edition updates the original text and includes two completely new chapters — on mycorrhizae (beneficial associations fungi form with green-leaved plants) and archaea (single-celled organisms once thought to be allied to bacteria).

With Jeff Lowenfels's help, everyone — from devotees of organic gardening techniques to weekend gardeners who simply want to grow healthy, vigorous plants without resorting to chemicals — can create rich, nurturing, living soil.

Awards for this book: Garden Writers Association Gold Award, Garden Writers Association Silver Award

Media reviews

"If you want to get a good understanding of how soils really work, and learn how to really feed your soil (and thus, your plants), [this] is a great book that explains it all very well, and also explains how to make really good compost and compost tea. It is concise and uses nonscientific terminology."

—Jared R. McKinley, DrWeil.com

"This very well illustrated hardback is a scientific view of many different kinds of soil microbes which include bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, nematodes, and many others."

—Maureen Gilmer, Palm Springs Desert Sun

"This updated resource will help everyone create rich, nurturing, living soil — from organic gardening devotees to weekend gardeners who simply want to grow healthy, vigorous plants without resorting to chemicals."

Michigan Gardener

"Jeff Lowenfels roots for the home team, but not the kind you watch play in a stadium ... he makes a boisterous case for the micro-organisms that live and die under our feet, and in the process feed the plants that feed us."

—Kym Pokorny, Oregonian

"If you are a gardener, this is definitely a book you want to read. And if you are a nature or science geek, you'll find the book extra fascinating."

So Many Books

"The information in this book is eye-opening and consistently entertaining."

Florida Survival Gardening

"Takes readers underground to meet the critters that live if you let them under the garden."

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

About the authors

Jeff Lowenfels

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.

Read more about Jeff Lowenfels

Wayne Lewis

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.

Read more about Wayne Lewis

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