The Truth About Organic Gardening

A Book Review of

“The Truth About Organic Gardening”

by Jeff Gillman
Timber Press


The Truth About Organic Gardening:
Benefits, Drawbacks, and the Bottom Line

© A Book Review by Eddie Rhoades

We all like to choose sides and some feel there is a definite line in the sand where everything on the synthetic side is bad and everything on the organic side is good. The author, Jeff Gillman, refutes these preconceived notions using logic, common sense and facts to help answer this ongoing debate. The Preface of this book is outstanding in explaining how Gillman addresses gardening issues. You might be as surprised as I was at some of his findings. He states that his book neither promotes nor attacks organic gardening. I found this to be true as he offers a very fair and balanced view of how he reaches his conclusions of what works and why.

Because of the perceived extra value of organic products there is an extra cost: It becomes a marketing tool. This reviewer has even seen “organic seed” advertised. When I contacted the seller to ask where organic seeds come from he said, “from organic plants.” This reminded me of the query, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” In my opinion all seeds are organic. Personally I feel there are too many poisonous chemicals available to the public. Just because a Lawn Service has a license to spray and they do so on a routine basis, does not mean all these chemicals are needed or necessary. About those little signs “Do not walk on treated lawn”, since when can wildlife and insects read? But I am on my soap box here and interjecting my opinions not the author’s.

Gillman lists each cultural practice which is named and rated, such as organic amendments, chemical sprays, bagging fruit, bug traps, citrus oil, garlic spray, pepper, sevin, DDT and many more. Sprays are often listed by chemical name and not product name. Each product or practice includes a bit of background and history. After each item there is a note on Benefits, Drawbacks, and the Bottom Line. The bottom line section should help you make an informed decision on what to do in your own garden.

Personally, I always differentiated between pesticides and herbicides because one kills insects and the other kills plants. But Gillman says since weeds are “pests” then herbicides fall under pesticides. Um, okay.

This is an easy book to read, very insightful and filled with “aha” moments. I am tempted to quote them all but I want you to read and enjoy this book for yourself so I will only give a few examples:

  • Aha #1 – Pesticide labels are mandated by law and if you don’t follow them you are breaking the law.
  • Aha #2 – EIQ stands for environmental impact quotient. This rating of toxicological effects does not appear on the labels but the author tells where to find this information which is assigned to each product he examines.
  • Aha #3 – The different categories of toxicity that do appear on the labels are: CAUTION, WARNING, and DANGER. Gillman explains each one.
  • Aha #4 – It would be more appropriate to substitute the word “natural” for the word “organic”.

He justifiably gives lawn care companies grief for their overuse of certain chemicals and I say “good for him”. I like this quote from the author, “It’s not the end of the world if there are three dandelions in your lawn.”

I don’t disagree with Gillman on anything. His is a voice of reason on a topic that often runs to extremes. Who wins, organic or synthetic? Buy the book and find out.

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