Author(s): Jeff Lowenfels
Smart gardeners know that soil is anything but an inert substance. Healthy soil is teeming with life not just earthworms and insects, but a staggering multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. When we use chemical fertilizers, we injure the microbial life that sustains healthy plants, and thus become increasingly dependent on an arsenal of artificial, often toxic, substances. But there is an alternative to this vicious cycle. We can garden in a way that strengthens the soil food web the complex world of soil-dwelling organisms whose interactions create a nurturing environment for plants. "Teaming with Microbes" extols the benefits of cultivating the soil food web. First, it clearly explains the activities and organisms that make up the web. Next, it explains how gardeners can cultivate the life of the soil through the use of compost, mulches, and compost tea. The revised edition updates the original text and includes two completely new chapters on mycorrhizae (beneficial associations fungi form with green-leaved plants) and archaea (single-celled organisms once thought to be allied to bacteria). With Jeff Lowenfels' help, everyone from devotees of organic gardening techniques to weekend gardeners who simply want to grow healthy, vigorous plants without resorting to chemicals can create rich, nurturing, living soil.
Jeff Lowenfels is the Cal Ripkin of garden columnists. His weekly column has run in the Anchorage Daily News for over 27 years, never missing a single week. Jeff also hosts a weekly garden radio show. He hosted Alaska public television's most popular show, Alaska Gardens with Jeff Lowenfels. The show was so popular, at one point it ran four times a week. Jeff grew up working on his father's farm in Scarsdale, New York. He helped plant, weed, and mow, and picked fruits, flowers, and vegetables on eight acres of gardens, orchards, and beds. For the last 30 years, Jeff has lived in Anchorage, Alaska, where he has been able to translate his work-filled childhood into a meaningful and enjoyable hobby, founding Plant A Row for The Hungry, an active program that created over 14 million meals to feed the hungry in 2005. A popular national garden writer and leading proponent of gardening using the concepts of the soil food web, Jeff is the former president of the Garden Writers of America and was made a GWA Fellow in 1999. In 2005, he was inducted into the GWA Hall of Fame, the highest honor a garden writer can achieve. Jeff teaches home gardeners about the soil food web with a painless and extremely entertaining method. After just one hour, his audiences know how to return beneficial biology to their soils and why it is necessary to do so.