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The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  987 ratings  ·  66 reviews
With more than 45,000 sold since 1989, The New Organic Grower has become a modern classic. In this newly revised and expanded edition, master grower Eliot Coleman continues to present the simplest and most sustainable ways of growing top-quality organic vegetables. Coleman updates practical information on marketing the harvest, on small-scale equipment, and on farming and ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 340 pages
Published October 1st 1995 by Chelsea Green Publishing (first published August 31st 1989)
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Dec 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
While this book has alot of wonderful information and accumulated wisdom from Mr. Coleman, it is not for beginners. If you have little-to-no experience gardening or farming, and especially if you don't have a place to practice, this book can leave you more confused than enlightened. This was one of the first books I read when starting to learn about farming, and while I could tell that there was some great stuff in there (especially the section on soil amendments, and the excellent discussion of ...more
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
This may not be a fair rating --- I only read the first chapter and flipped through it. The book is probably useful if you're a beginning gardener who wants to start an organic farming venture. But all of the parts I read were just rehashing information I'd learned elsewhere.
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading all the books seemed more of necessity before I was growing at the scale I wanted. Now that I have my hands in the dirt... (or playing with way more dirt)
It's interesting to see how that's changed my reading of farming books.
Now instead of needing to inhale all the information and ideas I tend to find little nuggets of information I need. I think this probably represents progress. Guess we'll see how 2020 turns out!
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you eat organic vegetables, are in a CSA, or go to a farmer's market, you have Coleman to thank in part. While others were part of the organic farming movement in the 60s, Coleman did it well, and he educated himself, and he continues to be an active proponent of true organic gardening (not necessarily the stuff labeled that at your supermarket, which may or may not be as safe or chemical free as you'd hope.)

He's such a booster for this, so enthusiastic and charming, still humble though
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Coleman is the kind of innovative gardener that I aspire to become. Many of the techniques in were not in use elsewhere when this book was first written. I particularly like his development of soil cubes for starting seeds, instead of using plastic containers. These little compacted cubes of a special soil mixture relieve the gardener of the need for those bothersome plastic trays where the roots end up growing out of the bottoms. With his technique, simply plop the seedling and soil cube into ...more
Kristina Seleshanko
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Despite this book's title, it's not all that useful for the home gardener. But since I have a fantasy of someday becoming a market grower, I still found it interesting. Coleman really knows his stuff, and while this book is older, I learned a lot. I especially appreciated his thoughts on choosing property to grow on, what size works best for market growing (hint: you don't need tons of acres), and what tools he uses to reduce labor. A must for anyone who thinks they'd like to sell produce ...more
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An excellent intro on how to set up a small organic farm - useful tips on site selection, soil improvement, crop rotation planning, and cover cropping. Very readable. About half-way through right now.
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be such a valuable resource!! Loads of wonderful information (although its much marketed towards the market grower) as a home-grower I have implemented many of these teachers into my own garden. One of my must-have books! ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This books is probably most useful for the market gardener, as there are long chapters on tools, marketing, and moveable greenhouses which don't apply to most people I know who are working in their backyards. (To be fair, there are some very large backyards out in the country, but still.)

At one point it seemed like the book was primarily written to inform the world of soil-blocking, which I still don't understand, even after reading his chapter on it. (How on earth do you keep them watered
Jennae Noelle
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I appreciate the history Coleman gives of organic (or rather what he calls biological) farming. It was interesting to hear about the people pioneering (or perhaps holding on to) these ideas before they became a fad. This book gave me a greater respect for organically grown food because it made sense of why it is important.
There are a lot of practical explanations for how to grow things in this book. It's also chock full of resources. There are some terms and practices that I would have liked to
Luke Merrick
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Coleman gives a wonderfully detailed review of his years studying and working as a small scale organic farmer. I appreciate the fact that he is a very straight forward thinker and that he's not afraid to admit the things hes not sure about. He's probably best labeled a perpetual learner, constantly experimenting and figuring things out.
The chapters and writing style are easy to read and follow, and the subject matter is spot on.
My only critique would be the age of the book, even though Coleman
SK Gaskell
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Eliot Coleman is incredibly bright and "The New Organic Grower" is one of the first really accessible tomes for organic growing that made robust connections between the common gardener and those who want to become advanced. If you've never gardened a day in your life you might have a really hard time with this book but if you're in the life sciences or have an interest in practically greening your practices, this is a really great place to visit.
Jennifer Schadt
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book is very detailed and informative. Better as a reference book than a sit down and read through, as some chapters I didnt need to read at this point in my vegetable growing journey. ...more
Grant Scalf
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lovely. Clear. Concise.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book for novice gardeners. If there is a good guidebook that helped you plan your gardening, then this is the book.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reading
needed grounding (again) so re-read
Scott Miller
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
3rd edition released this week. Lots of great stuff for the home gardener.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gardening
Seemed a bit dated/market gardener centric though he certainly seems to know his stuff
Carolyn Semple faucher
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, garden
Coleman has been the leader in organic growing techniques, forever. When this book was published it was radical in North America. His ideas & techniques were unusual at the time, but are now so mainstream that I find this book too basic.
His newer books expand on these techniques, making them a bit more helpful.
If you are completely new to organic growing, this is a great place to start.
If youre looking for innovative ideas, check out what J.M. Fortier is doing in Quebec! Hes the Eliot
Carl Wade
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was published in White River Junction, VT. Betty had people there.
Pg v: "The Shaker Venture" by Marguerite Fellows Melcher, sound like a good book for community development.
Pg 300: Celery will bolt at below 55 degrees so won't grow around here (western Washington).I nee something else for myu tuna salad mix.
Pg 16: 5 acres for intensive vegetable farm.
Pg 18: His example sounds like Jim's place in Ferndale.
Pg 21: Better not be bigger than 2 1/2 acres per worker which would provide veg.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eliot Coleman farms in Maine, and is highly successful at it. The New Organic Grower is his book that covers the techniques and beliefs that make Coleman successful. Even if you do not garden in Maine, but in the farm-friendly states of the midwest and southeast, I believe that Coleman still has a lot to offer.
His techniques (as he points out) are not new but have been used by european farmers for centuries. But Coleman puts a fine point on the techniques here. While the book is detailed in its
Alex English
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Practical and inspiring.
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: farmers, aspiring farmers
Shelves: agriculture
Fantastic seemingly quality information. I know Coleman can get criticized because of his popularity, but from this book I can completely understand this popularity. He is clear, seemingly practical, and has a sound philosophy to base from. I have no idea if he truly 'practices what he preaches' and all but I love what he preaches. His intentional and thought-as-input style of farming is exactly what drew me to the field in the first place. I definitely feel like this is a reference book that I ...more
Feb 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference
One summer I decided to take over a small organic farm from a neighbor on Salt Spring Island, BC... by myself. One of the many problems with this situation was that I had zero farming experience! I spent a lot of time in the library, and this book was my bible. Eliot is renowned for his ability to farm year-round in Maine; I figured if he could do that, I could stick out a mellow season in a lower latitude. (I didn't stay quite long enough to see the squash ripen, but I did make enough money ...more
Preston Stell
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was well on my way to giving this book a 3-star review, as I was mildly impressed, if almost unimpressed by the first half, but the second half makes up for it. The format of the first half was not too helpful to me. The photographs did not appear all that helpful and so much of the explanations and processes were buried in essay format, which is difficult to follow or take notes of in a book this size. Its almost as if the second half was edited/written by someone else. The second half of the ...more
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Coleman manages to deliver great amounts of knowledge and inspiration in this relatively short (for the topic) book. This book is for those who are serious about small-scale farming and backyard gardening. It assumes that you already know some things about food production and perhaps even a bit about organic growing methods. He will walk you through the importance of soil fertility and how to maintain it - this is arguably the basis of organic growing. He gives both very practical and very ...more
Karen Mahtin
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been a few years since I read the revised edition, so it's hard for me to remember what's different. I was disappointed that the "new section" about cut flowers was basically a sidebar. I was struck again by the amazing details that Mr. Coleman has noticed and improved in his work over the years. There are so many little tidbits of information. I'm so grateful that he chose the farming career and wrote this book. I was surprised to see that there were a few typos-- even in the 3rd edition!
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, gardening, farming
Coleman is a master of the craft of agriculture. His major work, The New Organic Grower, is intensely practical and yet simultaneously academic in its approach to growing food for oneself or as a livelihood. This book was replete with helpful diagrams and drawings, an extensive bibliography, and intimate knowledge of soil and plant health. To top it off, Coleman made this work a very enjoyable read!
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, gardening
In gardening books, I like either a strong point of view or a lot of technical detail, and Elliot Coleman gives both -- all in a very enjoyable writing style. My only quibble about the book is that the title is misleading. This is really about running a 5-acre farm for market. There's still lots of good information in here for the home gardener, just know ahead of time that much of the text is only applicable to people with a generous amount of land.
Mar 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: gardening
Ok, so I read this book before I knew anything about gardening and it was waaay over my head. It's quite technical and more aimed to the market gardener than the home gardener. I did enjoy the back of he book where it talked about the individual vegetables. I also enjoyed the chapter on crop rotation. There's a lot of information here. Probably one I will read again in the future.

My rating of three stars is just because it was too in depth for me and left me feeling overwhelmed.
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