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Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners
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Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  80 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Leonardo da Vinci once mused that “we know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot,” an observation that is as apt today as it was five hundred years ago. The biological world under our toes is often unexplored and unappreciated, yet it teems with life. In one square meter of earth, there lives trillions of bacteria, millions of nematodes, ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 15th 2007 by University Of Chicago Press
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This is a really neat book, but it gets a bit dry at times. The first fifty pages or so focus on the creation and structure of soil, while the latter part of the book covers all of the soil's inhabitants. For a naturalist, this book would be a joy cover-to-cover, but for the average gardener, it might go a little too in depth. At least, that was my take.

I found the discussion of soil structure to be immensely interesting and helpful in determining "to till or not to till," and the composting ti
I've been knee-deep in soil-science and ag-histories these past few months. The more I learn of soil's role in humans' ecological history, the more I realize that it is the missing culprit in both examinations of history and analyses of modern environmental challenges. And, from the opposite direction, the more I learn about soil ecology and the role soils play in the biosphere, the more I WANT to learn about it. Hence, this book.

The soil, or biomantle as Nardi sometimes calls it, mediates the
This is more of a field guide than a sit-down-and-read book. I bought it a while ago and love it. It already taught me why I keep seeing little crayfish on the paved paths of Golden Gate Park.
Wow.. what a book.. what a topic.. it brings me back to my university Soils classes.. and adds a layer of wonderment about the "good earth".
Nancy F
Soil ecology glorified. Great illustrations make the critters cuter.
This really is a very beautiful book. Nardi has produced very nice pencil illustrations of each of the major groups of animals that he covers. He also has put in some nice color illustrations and photos in the center of the book. It took me quite a long time to get through the entire book mostly because I spent a lot of time examining each illustration. They really are remarkable illustrations.

Nardi begins by giving an overview of how soil is formed, the various cycles of nutrients important to
Meanigful reading given the rate at which the world is losing its topsoil. Soil capable of supporting plant life requires a complex array of biological and chemical processes made possible by the organisms that cohabit between the lifeless specks of pulverized rock and transform it into the medium we know as soil. When we've killed off these organisms, the remaining particles wash away, blow away, and leave formerly fertile ground barren. Erosion of topsoil is taking place faster than the earth ...more
This is a thorough, informative book that provides good detail on a wide variety of organisms which call the soil their home. You will most likely come away from this book having learned some interesting facts about creatures. The book itself is divided endlessly into headings upon subheadings, so it reads more like a textbook than a novel. While interesting at times, there are portions of this book that will likely be of little to no interest to you.
Michael Blackmore
Liked it the sense of learning it imparted in covered an oft ignored topic. It certainly enhanced my sense of how abundant life truly is within the soil unseen.

I will admit reading it straight through got a bit repetitive since it is really guide and it cover so many species. Just the number of beetles alone is kind of daunting....

Still a good reference to have about and something to expand your thinking a bit.
Life in the Soil is an excellent book if you're interested in how soil forms and how living things in the soil (especially invertebrates) influence that soil. The illustrations are beautiful, and it's a handy field guide to the major types of animals you'll find in the soil as well.

Read my summary of the best bits here.
Bonnie Lee
Easy read. In fact the prose seemed aimed at young readers, not adult readers. That said, Nardi stays on topic and does provide useful information for those with green thumbs or seeking to acquire one.
Eric Polley
Mar 28, 2014 Eric Polley is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read so far. Not overly technical, yet enough to chew on. Mr. Nardi writes with almost a prose voice about the natural world in a way that evokes place enjoyably.
I especially like the last section that tells how to catch and observe microscopic and tiny soil creatures.
good pictures of bugs, life underground
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