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The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient-Dense Food

Deano Martin |
Monday, 25th November 2013

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. The Intelligent Gardener demystifies the process of re-mineralising the soil.

IntelligentGardener~Cat4in.jpg
Author: Steve Solomon with Erica Reinheimer
Publisher: New Society Publishers
Publication Year: 2012
RRP: £13.99

This is an excellent book which concentrates on the mineral content of soils. In it the author makes the case for growing nutrient dense food, critiques a compost only growing strategy, describes what different minerals do for plants, and then explains how to bring the minerals in your soil into optimum balance.

The explanation includes how to send a soil sample for testing, how to analyse the result, and then using worksheets and information that he provides, how to formulate a soil amendment strategy that is specific to your soil. For those who don't want to test their soil there is a recipe for a Complete Organic Fertiliser, that will help to provide a full range of minerals.

This is a real working book. The information provided is useful, practical, and aimed at growers rather than students. Even when looking at the science behind soil mineral balancing, the explanations are easy to understand.

Perhaps more important than a list of what the book contains is what it does. For me it opened up a 'Pandora's Box' of questions. What minerals are in my soil, in what ratio, and if there are deficiencies, how do I correct that? Finally, what are the consequences to my health of not doing so? I have since had my soil tested and using the worksheets provided, am now amending my soil with exactly the minerals that it needs to bring it to an optimum balance. I also have a soil test report to use as a check to see how successful I have been when I next test my soil.

For some time the Organic Gardening movement, has concentrated almost exclusively on compost as the solution to gardening problems. Including soil mineral balancing as part of your food growing strategy will complement the use of organic matter, and should improve the nutrient content of your food. This book is the ideal guide to doing so.

Further resources

Reviving Rush Farm -  the biodynamic way

No-dig gardening

Farming for the future: despite what the neighbours think

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TeamGuido |
Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 8:58am

I have read this book and rate it highly however i haven't been able to find a soil lab in the UK that offers the Mehlich test (or M3; not sure if i remember correctly), which this book and the vital data tables is 'calibrated' for. Has anyone found such a lab? The reviewer has had his soil tested so was this a M3 test?

I'd really appreciate any leads here as i'd really like to put this book to work in our new garden. Thanks.

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