Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Conscientious Gardener Book Review

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The Conscientious Gardener
Sarah Hayden Reichard
University of California Press, 2011

These days, most people I know are taking steps toward more sustainable living. We are recycling our cans and bottles, shopping at farmers markets, bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, and might even use a rain barrel to harvest water.

I always love to come across a new eco-tip that I can easily incorporate into my life. We learn of new ways to be earth friendly from Internet, newspaper, and magazine articles, to talk shows.  But I have yet to find a more comprehensive source of information about sustainability in the garden than The Conscientious Gardener by Sarah Hayden Reichard. Reichard asks you to evaluate your gardening practices and develop your own "garden ethic," that is, what you will and won't do to protect and heal the planet.

Take her discussion on water. Do you take steps to help the rainwater on your property infiltrate the soil and replenish aquifers, or do you let your rainwater run off into the sewer, collecting pollutants along the way? Do you use a broom or the hose to remove debris from your driveway? Do you select drought tolerant native plants, or use nonnatives that require supplemental watering? Introspection is a good thing; Reichard gives you the motivation to assess your gardening habits, and the information change them if necessary.

Do you know why you should avoid Spagnum peat moss? Why you should limit the use of two-stroke engines? Why it's important to buy locally-grown landscape plants if possible? If not, then it's time to read The Conscientious Gardener and determine your own garden ethic.

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