Grow Your Soil!: Harness the Power of the Soil Food Web to Create Your Best Garden Ever

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Growing awareness of the importance of soil health means that microbes are on the minds of even the most casual gardeners. After all, anyone who has ever attempted to plant a thriving patch of flowers or vegetables knows that what you grow is only as good as the soil you grow it in. It is possible to create and maintain rich, dark, crumbly soil that's teeming with life, using very few inputs and a no-till, no-fertilizer approach. Certified permaculture designer and lifelong gardener Diane Miessler presents the science of soil health in an engaging, entertaining voice geared for the backyard grower. She shares the techniques she has used -- including cover crops, constant mulching, and a simple-but-supercharged recipe for compost tea -- to transform her own landscape from a roadside dump for broken asphalt to a garden that stops traffic, starting from the ground up.

Table of Contents:
Foreword by Elaine R. Ingham
Beauty, Magic & Tomatoes: Why I Garden, and How the Soil Food Web Helps
10 Suggestions for Creating Healthy, Living Soil
Making Soil: Building a "House"


1 The Skinny on Soil: What Makes Soil Good & How Does It Get That Way?
What Is Soil?
What Makes Good Soil Good?
What Good Is Good Soil?
2 Building a House: Start with the Roof (Mulch & Cover Crops)
Cover Crops
3 Build the Walls: Organic Matter & the Soil Food Web That Sticks It Together
Soil Organic Matter
The Soil Food Web: A Gardener's Best Friend
Biodiversity 101: Microbes
Biodiversity 102: Algae, Bugs, Worms, and More
4 Install Ventilation, Plumbing & a Nice Pantry: No-Till Growing, Paths & CEC
Step Away from the Rototiller!
Make Paths
What Is CEC?
How to Increase CEC
5 Feed the Inhabitants: Photosynthesis, Minerals & Soil Testing
Photosynthesis: Empty but Necessary Calories
Macronutrients & Micronutrients
To Test or Not to Test
6 Compost and Compost Tea: It's Not Rocket Science
Benefits and Tools
Is It Compost or Is It Mulch?
How to Build a Compost Pile
Maintaining a Compost Pile: It Needs Your Love
When Is It Done?
Growing Pains
Fungally or Bacterially Dominated?
Worm Bins
Frequently Asked Questions, Answered
Compost Tea for a Non-Rocket Scientist with a Bucket
7 Where Do I Start? Building a Garden That Feeds Itself
Step 1: Pick a Spot
Step 2: Get Water to It
Step 3: Decide where You'll Walk
Step 4: Soften the Soil
Step 5: Pull Stuff Up, Throw Stuff Down
Step 6: Mulch
Step 7: Plant Stuff
8 Housework & Home Repairs: How Not to Make Your Neighbors Hate You
Maintenance = Mulch
Putter, Don't Work


Metric Conversions

Diane Miessler is the author of Grow Your Soil! She is a certified permaculture designer, a soil science enthusiast, and a gardener with more than 50 years of experience. She has a monthly column in The Union, a newspaper that serves Nevada County, California.

Storey Publishing

Pub Date: February 18, 2020

0.5" H x 8.9" L x 6.0" W

176 pages