The Organic Garden: Green Gardening For A Healthy Planet

Allan Shepherd
Collins, Hardback, £17.99

Reviewed by Alex Hindley

The appeal of Allan Shepherd's latest offering, as I see it, is threefold.

Firstly it will give the complete novice a good grounding in the 'hows' and 'whys' of gardening. Even the not-so-proud owner of a windswept, shade-, weed- and pest-ridden patch of our meteorologically abundant end of the world can learn the tricks and techniques needed to transform a wasteland into a land of plenty.

Secondly, more experienced gardening aficionados will find simple, practical advice on how to go organic. Some of the measures mentioned here may seem a little extreme to your average weekend gardener (compost toilet, anyone?) but others can be taken on board easily enough, and probably would be already if people were aware of the issues involved. For instance, it would never occur to me when purchasing a wooden garden shed or furniture set to check that the wood did not come from endangered forest. Just so you know, checking your wooden goods are ethically harvested is as simple as looking for a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo. Small things like this make this book a thought-provoking and important read for anyone with an interest in gardening.

Thirdly, threaded through the entirety is a philosophy that could just make the world a better place. In brief summary it is that quality is better than speed, and if you can get it from a local source then why transport it half way across the planet at great expense and environmental detriment?

This is a well thought-out, attractively presented introduction and, provided people aren't scared off by the use of the word in the title, it goes a good way towards proving that 'organic' doesn't always mean difficult, and that it isn't just a buzz word for an imagined culturally-backward, less washed end of society. This is no self-righteous account of how science has led us all astray. There are no lists of cancer-causing additives in non-organic food or guilt trips about lights left on unnecessarily. It's a book about enjoying nature and making changes not only because they will help the planet, but also because they will enrich our lives.

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