Stella Otto: The Backyard Fruit Gardener

Today's Tip: Mow vegetation short around the base of fruit trees and bushes to reduce winter habitat for rodents.

Building Soils Naturally: Innovative Methods for Organic Gardeners — Book Review

Book Review


This is where every successful fruit garden starts - with the soil. A must read before setting a single tree, bush, or fruiting vine!

This is where every suc­cess­ful fruit gar­den starts — with the soil. A must read before plant­ing a sin­gle tree, bush, or fruit­ing vine!

Title: Build­ing Soils Nat­u­rally: Inno­v­a­tive Meth­ods for Organic Gardeners

Author: Phil Nauta

Strong points: Bal­anced approach to the “natural/organic” phi­los­o­phy; not so fanat­i­cally anti-synthetic or blindly, “nat­ural” only as some authors can be.
Help­ful sum­mary points at the end of each chap­ter.
Excel­lent expla­na­tion of why pH is not just a num­ber and why a more com­plete under­stand­ing of soil pH is important.

Weak­nesses: First few chap­ters a bit too gen­eral for the expe­ri­enced gar­dener (pg. 42 ) no longer exists. See

Green thumbs rat­ing

Book Rat­ing:  

In the intro­duc­tion to Build­ing Soils Nat­u­rally, the author states his pur­pose “…isn’t to pro­pose new the­o­ries but rather to pull together what’s been proven to work already…to take this amaz­ing body of knowl­edge… and make it avail­able to home gar­den­ers.” This he does skill­fully!
Just like the active soil microbes he dis­cusses, Phil dis­tills a com­plex sub­ject into small, usable nuggets of infor­ma­tion and builds them back up to one larger whole. His light hearted writ­ing style keeps, what can be a dry sub­ject, from get­ting pon­der­ous. But don’t let that fool you, the meat of the infor­ma­tion pre­sented is tested, solid sci­ence.
At the same time Phil is not afraid to bring up top­ics that some may con­sider “fringe;” such as bio­dy­nam­ics, para­mag­net­ism and other energy based schools of thought. Is it fringe or cut­ting edge? I don’t know yet; but for the gar­dener will­ing to lis­ten, think for them­selves, and exper­i­ment, you will find food for thought
Like the nutri­ent dense food that healthy soil pro­duces, Phil Nauta has pro­duced a very infor­ma­tion dense book. One that should be on every gardener’s shelf, to be read, referred to, and used over and over, to fully and holis­ti­cally reap the knowl­edge it so art­fully shares.

ISBN: 978–1-60173–033-6 (trade paper­back)
# of pages: 304
Pho­tos: No
Illus­tra­tions: Yes; well done line art helps iden­tify weed species
Appen­dix: No, but does include a brief resource sec­tion for find­ing prod­ucts and test­ing labs men­tioned in the bok
Index: Yes
Pub­lisher: Acres U.S.A., PO Box 301209, Austin, TX 78703–0021
Pub­li­ca­tion Date: 2012
Price: $19.95