Daily Archives: August 26, 2010

Eat More Dirt

I check out many—too many—gardening books. Some row into piles near my library desk, and some I pack home to plant in my dining room. I first borrowed Eat More Dirt: Diverting and Instructive Tips for Growing and Tending an Organic Garden in April. I glanced at a few random pages, and soon covered it with other books. Maybe I expected it to grow and bloom.

I took it home again the other day, began at page one, and by page four I was inspired to action. Out to the garden I went. Then my husband opened it. Excited to tell me what he’d read, he found me pruning a tomato.

The author, Ellen Sandbeck, writes from her heart. She loves her garden:

We love that which we know intimately. No lover ever knew his beloved better than a gardener knows his garden. Learning to love a single small plot of earth is a good start toward learning to be protective of our beautiful little planet.

Sandbeck offers wide-ranging advice, gleaned from working as an organic landscaper and vermicomposting (worm bin) specialist:

  • Your garden can either bring you bliss or drive you insane, and it is within your power to decide which it will do.
  • There are two main principles by which I garden: Do no harm and Garden to please yourself.
  • Gardening is more like a dance than a race. Garden at a slow, steady pace, and you will be able to work all day, and the next. [From the chapter “Gardening As Exercise.”]

Drawing on library research, the author quotes from Mark Twain, Vita Sackville-West, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Joseph Campbell, taking up an alphabet’s worth of topics, from ants—intelligence of to do-it-yourself concrete removal, worm wisdom to Zen Buddhism.

Read Ellen Sandbeck for wise, kind, surprising approaches to gardening. Eat More Dirt deserves its place in the sun.



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