New Book Takes the Scary Out of Gardening: Turns Out Growing Your Own Food Is Really Easy
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No bit of conventional gardening wisdom is too sacred to be shredded. In her chipper fashion, she makes mulch of such nuggets as "send your soil off to a lab to be tested":
...as if the vegetable garden were a delicate chemistry experiment rather than a partnership with nature that's generally proved successful for the last 10,000 years. By all means, test your soil if you suspect lead or industrial waste--but otherwise? I know a lot of serious gardeners and not a single one has ever had his or her soil tested.
And what of the deeply entrenched notion that you need to double-dig your vegetable beds? Don't think twice, it's not right. Aside from being ludicrously labor intensive, it actually messes up the soil's structure and gives old weed seeds a new lease on life by exposing them to light.
Not that Owens has anything against working up a sweat; on the contrary, she notes that gardening gives you a workout that's as good--or better--any routine you could do at the gym. And as a bonus, you'll be rewarded with good things to eat and a nicer yard.
"When I'm done cleaning out a flower bed, I'll sit back and admire my work," a doctor who studies the effects of gardening on aging told Owens. "If I've done 30 minutes on a treadmill, I don't stand there admiring the treadmill."
Owens' common sense stance that you don't need a garden expert to show you how food grows echoes the refrain that "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." But though Dylan would presumably prefer not to be the inspiration for the bomb-building revolutionaries who took their name from his song, I suspect Owens wouldn't mind terribly if her book ignited an explosion of homegrown terroirists and seed bombers.
Grow The Good Life is less a breath of fresh air than a blast of gale force gumption. Gardening newbies, seasoned seedsters and the somewhere-in-betweensters will all find much to enjoy in Owen's eloquent, witty and empowering guide, which redefines the joy of gardening for our fraught and fractious times:
...in a world where so much is beyond the control of any one of us--as much as I'd like to, I cannot personally rid us of the internal combustion engine and replace it with something less noisy or dirty or less likely to turn a beautiful landscape into a field of asphalt--there is a lot of pleasure to be had in reshaping the little piece of earth that is under our control. Thanks to my garden, I can take a small stand against everything I find witless, lazy, and ugly in our civilization and propose my own more lively alternative.
I'd love to see Owens offered a spot on Oprah's sofa, but at the very least, Grow The Good Life deserves a slot on the bookshelf of every dreamer who's got visions of sugar-sweet plum tomatoes dancing in his or her head. This is the book that could bring those dreams to fruition.