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Grow Your Soil!: Harness the Power of the Soil Food Web to Create Your Best Garden Ever

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Growing awareness of the importance of soil health means that microbes are on the minds of even the most casual gardeners. After all, anyone who has ever attempted to plant a thriving patch of flowers or vegetables knows that what you grow is only as good as the soil you grow it in. It is possible to create and maintain rich, dark, crumbly soil that’s teeming with life, using very few inputs and a no-till, no-fertilizer approach. Certified permaculture designer and lifelong gardener Diane Miessler presents the science of soil health in an engaging, entertaining voice geared for the backyard grower. She shares the techniques she has used — including cover crops, constant mulching, and a simple-but-supercharged recipe for compost tea — to transform her own landscape from a roadside dump for broken asphalt to a garden that stops traffic, starting from the ground up.

176 pages, Paperback

First published February 2, 2020

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Diane Miessler

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 61 reviews
Profile Image for MissBecka Gee.
1,491 reviews596 followers
December 17, 2019
Whether you have a green thumb or have managed to kill a plastic plant...you will find help here.
There is so much information packed into these 176 pages.
You will learn how to get the most out of your garden by starting (quite literally) from the ground up.
The methods in here are not only natural & easy to incorporate, but some of them even make for less work (hello no more rototiller!).
Thanks to NetGalley and Storey Publishing for my DRC.
Profile Image for amanda.
351 reviews26 followers
October 18, 2019
I love plants. I love flowers. I love pretty things.
Unfortunately they do not seem to love me very much.
I plant and they grow and that's it. They stall. They cease to grow. My flowers do not bloom. My plants wither and so does my soul. I cry in the darkness and I become another ghost to roam this cold, dark lonely world.
Basically what I learned from this book is that I was doing everything wrong lol. Regarding soil, placing the seeds, and everything else.
My main problem...is that I over water because I like coddling my plant babies. Apparently that's a big no no.
Stick with this book, you guys. Learn from my mistakes. Grow and flourish with the soil.
Thanks very much to Netgalley and the publisher for this copy of my ARC. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Beth.
932 reviews21 followers
December 31, 2019
Great information presented in a fun, easy-to-read format (infographics, sidebars, tidbits, and fun prose). Fantastic resource for all gardeners, regardless of experience level!
58 reviews4 followers
January 1, 2020
Grow Your Soil! by Diane Miessler
Harness the Power of Microbes to Create Your Best Garden Ever
Storey Publishing, January 2020
• Price: $16.95
• Size: 6 x 9
• Pages: 176
• Format: Paperback ISBN: 9781635862072
• Other formats: Ebook

If you are a beginner organic gardener, or you’re looking for a book for someone in that category, this book has a clear user-friendly approach. It won’t scare off newbies with too much detail.
Grow Your Soil! is an introduction to soil biology and gardening in eight chapters. It is written as if describing how to build a house (but starting with the roof!). Diane Miessler writes in plain English, with a light style, and her book has the endorsement of Elaine Ingham, who writes the foreword, saying that Diane’s humor and tongue-in-cheek joy make this book a joy to read. People were once told that using inorganic fertilizers and pesticides was the only way to grow enough food for a starving world. Elaine simply states “That was a flat-out lie.”

Diane’s encouragement to garden in partnership with the soil food web lists the many benefits of a healthy environment, healthy flavorful food, and the satisfaction of doing what you believe is right. She has a ten-point list of suggestions for creating healthy living soil using no-till systems, lots of mulches, home-grown fertilizers, and by encouraging biodiversity. The fundamentals of soil science are explained – soil is about 45% minerals (sand, silt and clay), 20-30% air, 20-30% water and 5-10% organic matter. A teaspoon of good soil contains more microbes than there are people in the US, more species than all the vertebrates on Earth, several yards of fungal hyphae, a few thousand protozoa and several dozen nematodes (mostly good ones). Soil is our planet’s third largest carbon sink (after the oceans and fossil fuels). Healthy soil is continually pulling carbon dioxide from the air and sequestering it in the organic matter and humus. We want to have as much sequestered carbon as possible, both to reduce the amount in the atmosphere and so that we can use it to grow food.

Diane’s mulch recommendations are to generally aim for a mix of one-third green matter (which feeds bacteria) and two-thirds brown (which feeds fungi), but steering towards more green matter for annual vegetables, more brown for woody perennials, in line with the predominant life-form each type of crop does best with.

The cover crops section first describes the plants, then how and when to use them. I had a brief worry that people would go out and plant buckwheat or sweet potatoes in winter, until I read on! In fact, Diane does suggest you can sow buckwheat whenever you like, and it will be dormant until the right spring weather occurs. In our central Virginia climate this does not work. Buckwheat seed rots in cold wet soil. Buckwheat can germinate in a warm early spring spell and be struck down by a following frost before it has made much growth at all. As always, it pays to discuss ideas you haven’t tried before with nearby gardeners.

This book has a good basic description of the Soil Food Web, for new gardeners or anyone who is a bit mystified about what’s happening in the soil. And for those over 50 whose biology classes only included the two plant and animal “kingdoms”, here are explanations of the classes of bacteria, fungi and archaea, the main types of soil microbes. Archaea are neither bacteria nor eukaryotes (tiny organisms that have their DNA in a nucleus). Archaea are similar to eukaryotes in some ways, but have more resistance to extreme conditions. In the soil they work as decomposers.

Next up are the algae, protozoa and nematodes. The algae spectrum goes from one-celled photosynthesizing life-forms to giant kelp. In the soil they provide nutrients and increase plant resistance to diseases. Protozoa are one-celled animals, which release excess nutrients from their meals of bacteria and fungi, in a plant-available form. They help balance the numbers of bacteria in the soil. Nematodes are (mostly) microscopic roundworms that are mostly benign, from our perspective, and healthy populations keep the destructive nematodes in check. Arthropods (including insects, spiders, mites, ticks and scorpions) are shredders of organic matter in the soil (while eating smaller life-forms).

Bigger soil-dwellers include worms, slugs, snails, and small mammals. By the way, Diane explodes the myth that coffee grounds can control slugs, and claims to have videos to prove it untrue. And she tells us that fence lizards eat harlequin bugs. (I think she lives in California). Western fence lizards are centered in California, and according to the National Wildlife Federation, Eastern fence lizards are found between New York and northern Florida and as far west as Ohio and Arkansas. I want some!

The next section of the book explains Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), a measure of how many positively charged ions (cations, nutrients like Mg, K, Ca, ammonium) can be held by the negatively charge soil particles. Diane likens this to the pantry. Soils with a low CEC can’t hold many cations, and the key to increasing the CEC is to increase the soil organic matter content. Clay soils may have a high CEC, but the nutrients may be held too tightly to be useful to plants. The solution to this problem is also to increase the soil organic matter content.

Diane offers several ways to increase the organic matter, and one of her favorites is biochar. Biochar in its original form is more or less sterile, not nutritious at all, but in the soil it can act like humus on steroids – it is very good at absorbing water, hosting microbes, reducing plant diseases and lasting a long time in the soil. I have been skeptical about some of the claims for biochar, and of the net gains in reducing global heating. Diane does not make any wild claims (she’s not selling the stuff). She is open about the fact that the mechanism for suppressing disease is not yet understood.

As I said, Diane is not selling biochar. In fact she describes how to make your own on a small scale with an “upside-down” outdoor fire (with all due safety precautions). Big pieces of wood are arranged on the ground in an open airy stack, and a small fire is lit on top with tinder and kindling. This means the fire produces little smoke (all smoke is air pollution). The fire is thoroughly doused with water once everything is glowing but not flaming. Those wanting to make biochar on a bigger scale are referred to a double-barrel biochar burner on YouTube.

The next section is on photosynthesis, minerals and soil testing. Diane describes the effects of too much, too little and just right amounts of the main soil nutrients first. A deficiency of phosphorus shows up as blue-purple colors on the older leaves. She doesn’t mention phosphorus surplus, although she does confirm that excess phosphorus added to the soil will usually be locked up and become inaccessible to plants. Potassium deficiency can cause yellow leaf edges. Next up are other macro-nutrients, such as Calcium, magnesium and sulfur. Calcium deficiency leads to stunted new growth, brown around the edges, perhaps with yellowing between the veins. Bulb and fruit formation can be damaged, as with blossom end rot of tomatoes, caused by insufficient calcium reaching the fruits. By contrast, a magnesium deficiency leads to older leaves becoming yellow between the veins and around the edges, perhaps with purple, reddish or brownish discoloration. Sulfur shortage can lead to “unthrifty” plants. Shortages of any of these can be remedied by the addition of more organic matter. Micronutrient shortages can also be helped by organic matter, although in Virginia I have noticed that we do sometimes need to add boron on its own (in tiny amounts).

Diane describes how to test soil, understand the results, and remedy the situation. Try adding organic matter first, and only tinker with the specifics if the general remedy is not enough. For instance, if your soil biological activity is low, you may find that piling on organic matter doesn’t help. Use compost to add some more life to the soil and get a better balance of diners to dinners. There is a helpful one-page “Order of Operations for Fixing Soil”: Correct the pH; correct the calcium level; correct any excesses (usually by adding gypsum); correct the macronutrient deficiencies and lastly correct the micronutrient and trace element deficiencies. Clear instructions like this are so valuable to newer gardeners!

There is a chapter on making compost and compost tea. She suggests thinking of compost as a sourdough starter, and mulch as the flour. Both are valuable, and they work well together. Making good compost is a valuable skill to learn. Try for the a good balance of high nitrogen materials and high carbon materials, with enough water. Turn the pile, assess its progress, add what it seems to need. Rinse and repeat. Diane recommends against spending money on fancy compost bins. “Compost needs love, not a container.” There is value in turning the pile and seeing how it’s doing. If it’s fully enclosed in a tumbler, you might miss the signs that it needs a specific kind of care. Here is encouragement to learn the art and science of compost making.

Worm bins are a great way to use kitchen scraps to produce worms and compost, especially in winter, as worm bins need to be in a non-freezing place to stay alive. I disagree with Diane about using the liquid leaching from the bottom of the bin as a “compost tea” See my review of The Worm Farmer's Handbook by Rhonda Sherman. This liquid might not be good for your plants. To make compost tea, put some of the wormcastings in water and bubble air though it. Instructions are in Diane’s book a few pages later.

Another small industrious worker is the black soldier fly. The (harmless) maggots of these (harmless) flies will out-compete other (disease-carrying and/or biting) flies in eating up kitchen scraps in an odorless way. They are also a favorite food of poultry, and there are clever ways of setting up a bsf bin so that the pupal stage will “self-harvest” by walking up a ramp and dropping into a collecting box. See YouTube for all the details.

After explaining these various aspects of growing good soil, Diane pulls everything together into a chapter on Building a Garden That Feeds Itself. Here you can learn about sprinkler irrigation, mulching, planting, and selecting good tools. The next chapter covers being a good neighbor, by having a good-looking, good-smelling, productive garden that gets frequent attention. Diane advocates for pulling weeds and dropping them on the bed, without worrying about weed seeds or plant diseases. I can see this would work best in a smaller garden where things don’t get out of control, and in drier climates with fewer diseases and less chance for weeds to re-root. There’s a panel about roses that I didn’t read. (Roses are a great trap crop for Japanese beetles; I’m not a flower grower!) A big help to beginners is the glossary at the end, and the bibliography of books on soil life.

Profile Image for Jolene Yaksich.
58 reviews1 follower
May 5, 2020
Wonderful book with great information for all types of gardeners. I loved learning about the different micro and macro organisms that live in the soil.
Profile Image for Bonnie Thompson.
84 reviews1 follower
July 17, 2020
This is by far the most fun gardening book I have ever read! Miessler makes soil science come alive and will have you running out to the nearest patch of earth to sink your bare hands in and finding a whole new world. Happy gardening!
Profile Image for Kim.
168 reviews2 followers
June 28, 2020
Engaging to read, great design, delightful illustrations involving worms, and best of all, I learned stuff I didn't know! I have so many new ideas for how to sustainably take care of my little plot of land... and make it beautiful. Cover crops, cardboard, compost that isn't stinky, puttering, soil food web diversity, mycorrizhea, worm bins for kitchen scraps. I have so many dog-eared pages and so much gardening to do.
Profile Image for Paige Ovanisian.
191 reviews17 followers
January 23, 2020
SOIL. FOOD. WEB. This is an absolutely amazing gardening resource on the science of soil biology (soil makes up 1/3 of the surface of our planet!) which I feel is often overlooked and not understood. I'm 'lazy' and thus have a great love for efficient systems that also reduce harm to the environment (hello permaculture!), and this book helps me do just that. "Work smarter, not harder.", is my lazy-girl motto after all, and let's face it, gardening is endless work often made more difficult by poor gardening practices. I want to be the manager, not the grunt as it were, so why not have the soil bear the brunt of the work for me? It's a win-win-win situation because, with kind and intentional gardening practices, the planet and those who inhabit it will benefit as well as myself and my garden. I'll also have more time to take sweet, glorious afternoon naps beneath a shady tree.

"Chop up the leaves with your machete (see chapter 8 for the how-to)."
YESSS! This sentence got me so pumped to lay down green mulch as a badass machete-wielding goddess of nature.


A few topics to look forward to:

Your responsibility to the planet as a gardener by lessening the amount of carbon dioxide floating off into the o-zone layer of space, by using microbiology and permaculture gardening practices to keep carbon in the soil. Goes into detail on why to say no to tilling, and chemical topsoil, composts, and pesticides—instead working with nature instead of against it by relying on mulching, companion gardening, and cover cropping to make your whole garden into a self-sustaining bioactive 'compost garden' that does much of the work for you with the bonus of having larger, healthier, tastier, more nutritious yields.

Breakdown of what makes up soil, the ideal ratios that make a 'good' soil (N-P-K, aka Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium), how to test your soil for these elements as well as other trace elements, and how to supplement unbalanced soil. S-O-I-L.

Companion gardening and cover cropping for optimal nutrients and ground cover (Moist soil! Nitrogen allies! Worms! Beneficial bugs and creatures! Pollinators!), naturally creating rich black yummy humus. Humus, not hummus, silly.

Planting guidelines for cover crops by season, including flowers and edibles, and how to turn them into mulch.

Green mulch vs. brown mulch and the best ways of layering and timing your mulching process to get the most out of your mulch and into your plants.

Benefits of biochar (charcoal) for aiding and expanding the density of your soils nutrient storage, how to make your own, plus safety precautions and tips for best application to your garden beds.

COMPOST TEA (chapter 6) using WORM BINS. Also how to make compost, how to maintain compost piles, and the difference between compost and mulch.

♥ Tips on how to plant in your newly tended-to soil, plus pruning and garden maintenance.


The illustration with the buff microbes (page 48) is AMAZING, as well as the graphic mollusk bit (page 68); I had quite a laugh so thank you for that.

The prose of this book flows easily, filled with technical information and witty humor, written in such a balanced way that makes it suitable for all ages. I also loved the visual aesthetic of this read with its fun illustrations, clean yet trendy layout, and appealing color theme. This would be a wonderful book to request for your public library, school library, and to have in your personal library at home. This book would also make a great gift for your aspiring biologist, gardener, herbalist, and other nature-y science-y person. Another book I highly recommend for mindful gardeners is No-Waste Organic Gardening , a terrific resource for beginners with an interest in growing organic. It was such a pleasure to read this, I definitely recommend this book.

The quotes provided were taken from an eARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Thank you to Storey Publishing for providing me with this eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Renee(Reneesramblings).
941 reviews33 followers
December 4, 2019
Grow Your Soil is such a well thought out and useful book! As gardeners, we spend so much time growing and caring for our plants, but often, the one thing overlooked is the health of the soil. The author focuses on letting nature take care of your soil, and while many of her suggestions were already part of my soil habits, some made me stop and think.
No rototilling? Well, that would be great and it turns out it is more harmful than helpful. No fertilizers needed( or very little)? Mulch and compost will save you time and money and your soil will say thank you. My favorite: don't drown your weeds with chemicals! Use the pulled up weeds for soil nourishment.
This was a wonderful book that made me think about my garden soil in a whole new way. I am so excited to picture my garden next year, thriving and with way less prep work. There is not only quite a bit of humor in this book but so much practical information. Not that I want to wish my life away, but I am super excited to try to incorporate those steps that I have been missing or doing wrong come spring! A great gift for yourself or a garden friend!
I received a DRC from Storey Publishing through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Raising Rigby's  .
22 reviews2 followers
December 10, 2019
Grow Your Soil took me by surprise! I didn't think a book on soil would interest me so much, but the science behind it all is amazing. If only it was published sooner as this would be a great Christmas gift for my father in law. The illustrations on the chapters and little doodles are brilliant too.
Profile Image for Kelly Hodgkins.
555 reviews22 followers
February 27, 2020
I loved “Grow Your Soil!” by Diane Miessler from the first page! It is packed full of insightful information but it’s threaded together with a fabulous “building your soil house” metaphor which makes the science easier to remember and the book more enjoyable!

The book begins setting the scene for why healthy soil is not only great for the gardener but for the world as well. It details the way we’ve destroyed the ground by taking more from it than we put in.

It explores how to work in harmony with our soil. It outlines what soil is, what makes good soil and then how to improve our soil. With beautiful illustrations and plenty of humour, Diane shares practical and easy-to-implement ways to grow our soil! My only objection is to her massacre of snails! I have a fondness for them, aside from that, the book is full of working in harmony with, and appreciation for, the amazing world of creation in which we live.

If you want to combat global warming, improve your garden and care for the natural community around you, this is one to read! It’s a five out of five on the enJOYment scale and highly recommended!
Profile Image for Scott Lupo.
399 reviews13 followers
March 9, 2020
Fun book to read...about soil! I garnered at least two nuggets of wisdom: biochar and composting in your garden. I had never heard of biochar before reading this book but understand it now as something similar to vermiculite or perlite. It helps to aerate the soil and keep it moist. The composting within your garden is a great idea versus throwing everything in the composting bins. This is especially true at the end of the season. Pull and lay down. Pull and lay down. I like this concept, especially for weeding. Then add a layer of mulch on top and you are composting in your garden. This year I will try cover crops too as a way to add organic matter to my soil. And, of course, a worm farm! With the weather warming up, I feel the garden bug biting and cannot wait to get started this year.
Profile Image for Terri.
91 reviews
May 12, 2020
This was super repetitive with some sentences showing up in the same paragraph.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Pedro.
64 reviews2 followers
March 31, 2023
Miessler’s primer is an excellent introduction to the soil food web! The methods and techniques she has adopted within her garden space involve a no fertilizer/ pesticide approach in promoting soil health. Her scientific explanations behind the relationship between plants and soil are easy to understand and presented in a fun and creative way with cute illustrations to help visual learners. I can see this appealing to younger generations, further helping to educate people of all ages.

Some topics covered include:
• cardboard mulching
• oyster mushrooms
• how to create home-made biochar
• correcting soil problems associated with pH issues and macro/ micronutrient deficiencies and excesses
• steps to fixing soil
• composting
• the magic of worm casting = worm poop & how to create a worm bin
• reviving compost and soil
• soil amendments
• making compost tea
• steps involved in starting a garden

The worm 💩portion of this book was absolutely fascinating. I can no longer look at worms the same way. The work they put into enriching soil and creating hospitable environments for life is astounding! Going to read “Worms Eat My Garbage” by Mary Appelhof & Joanne Olszewski, as it was listed as a recommendation and examines the benefits of worms in more detail.

Biodiversity is the key takeaway in soil health. Plants are highly intelligent and adaptable beings that find ways through chemical processes to attract microbes, fungi, bugs, etc., to promote their own growth while supporting the symbiotic relationship of life. Humans also benefit from this process. I think this book highlights the importance of being a helping hand as caretakers of the land.
January 6, 2023
I liked this book. A lot of great information and put in words beginner gardeners can understand. My only complaint would be the repetitiveness. It wasn’t bad and would’ve been better if I didn’t read it so fast (because I was so interested) so it would’ve been q nice refresher. Great book, I’d recommend.
Profile Image for Janis Hill.
Author 3 books10 followers
April 21, 2020
I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free – temporary – electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley. Although I required their approval, the decision to read this book is my choice and any reviews given are obligation free.

This is another book I read recently, so yay me! I’m back!

‘Grow your own soil’ was a very entertaining and inspiring book on how we can all do our own bit in helping create soil from dirt, and then keep it healthy. As healthy soil creates healthy food, that feeds healthy people.

Now, I may have enjoyed this book simply as I’m someone interested soil and all the microbes and bacteria involved in keeping it healthy. I grew up knowing about soil bacteria as we had a bacterium in our soil that could kill a person. Being the kind of person I am, rather than be scared by it, I became fascinated in soil bacteria and how it’s a vital part of our lives – just like our own gut bacteria.

So, of course, this was a book I was hoping to enjoy. The nice surprise is that it wasn’t the stale text book I was expecting it to be. It was silly of me to think that Storey Publishing would create a stale, aesthetic, text book and so I apologise.

‘Grow your own soil’ is an informative book wrote in a semi-casual tone that helps share the author’s passion for the subject with the reader. It keeps the reader entertained and interested, while also learning a lot. I do want to emphasise that, despite the casual tone, it is still a serious and interesting book to read. Think of it as being more like having a chat with someone, via a book, than a severe reference book on facts alone.

I also enjoyed the simplistic art scattered through the book. It wasn’t in your face, distracting from the information being shared. Instead it was complimentary to it, really making the book more attractive to read. It filled in the white gaps that would be blank pages, transforming a reference book into a more (pardon the pun) down to earth helpful guide to bettering our lives through bettering the soil. I mean, is it just me who wanted to go look at the dirt in my yard, and try and make it become soil? It’s autumn here, so mulching my gardening for the winter is already on my mind… now “building my own house” of soil is more on my mind. So, thank you.

Book nerd side of things: As I’ve already touched upon, the layout and formatting of ‘Grow your own soil’ was good. To be a snob, it was the usual high standard I’ve come to expect from Storey Publishing. The light hearted, but honestly enthusiastic, voice of the author really shows even in the layout and formatting. It makes it a more compelling read.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. For people who are interested in taking back control of what is in their soil – and therefore in the food they grow – are going to love reading ‘Grow your own soil’. People passionate about a simpler, low waste, low “nasty” chemical life with a garden of their own are going to enjoy this book. Basically, people like me are going to enjoy this book. ;-)

Would I buy this book myself?

Yes I would, but as a paper version. I don’t know why, I just feel owning it in a paper copy to move even more away from the artificial (technology) to the plain and basic life. But I’m weird. And, at the time of my review, I feel that both the electronic and paper versions on Amazon Australia are reasonably priced for what our exchange rate is currently at.

In summary: An excellent book to help you turn your dirt into soil.
Profile Image for Sarah Price.
378 reviews3 followers
June 23, 2020
This is a brilliant book.

I am quite new to the enjoyment of gardening but as I own my own home now the last couple of years have been hearing up to enjoying researching about what's best where etc.

It's a great book for explaining what different textures of soils mean and how to treat it and what thrives in each type of soil.

This has been brilliant for me because I am a complete novice when it comes to plants etc.
Profile Image for Cindy Black.
Author 1 book3 followers
June 21, 2020
An inspiring book that taught me about how soil microbes work - thank you Diane for clarifying this complex topic. I've been in the garden my whole life, now I am in the soil...already making changes, some big, some small, that are helping the plants and microbes grow - yay!
1 review1 follower
June 1, 2020
This is an amazing read. I had two great novels come in the mail at the same time but I couldn't put "Grow Your Soil" down. I am a beginner gardener and this book instantly changed my relationship to the soil, the mulch in the area, weeds, and insects. Diane Miessler's writing style is humourous and fun and very encouraging. I really can't say enough. Thanks so much for writing and publishing this book!
Profile Image for Annie.
3,489 reviews63 followers
February 2, 2020
Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader.

Grow Your Soil! is a tutorial and theory book for soil health and building by Diane Miessler. Due out 18th Feb 2020 from Storey, it's 176 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats.

This is such a fun and engaging book. The whole book is written around a metaphor for soil as a house. Each of the basic components are listed with tutorials for addressing the components (roof, walls, etc) and building them into a cohesive whole. For such an accessible book, the science is surprisingly correct and layman digestible. The author has a positive and upbeat writing style and the whole has a very fun vibe.

At some point in the process (and I am 100% loving it) a stylistic decision was made that this book's illustrations would be whimsical and not realistic. They're simple and naive and appealing. The worms and bugs 'talk' and the flowers are anthropomorphic with smiles and leaves outstreatched toward the sun in the cartoon illustrations. There is no photography. Highlights and special info are contained throughout the text in special text boxes for emphasis.

The author covers subjects like compost, mulch, micronutrients, garden waste management, vermicomposting, permaculture structures and more, despite the short(ish) length of the book. It's concise and well written and would be useful for all ages. This would make a great support text for a garden co-op, homeschool unit, classroom gardening unit, school library, or for the hobbyist gardener's library.

Five stars. Well done, I really enjoyed this one.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes
2 reviews
March 11, 2020
I have been leisurely studying soil science for the past couple years and was naturally interested in Grow Your Soil! by Diane Miessler. I have read books, articles, and watched presentations by well renowned soil advocates such as Jeff Lowenfels and Elaine Ingham, among others. When I first started reading Grow Your Soil!, my impression was that it was written for an audience with limited experience on the subject. As I continued to read, I found that I really enjoyed the content and Diane's style of writing. I do believe this would be best as an introduction to soil science, but Diane covers a wide range of topics which may not have been covered in other reading material. I was surprised to find chapters on various forms of composting, making teas, cover crops and green mulch, setting up garden beds, and garden maintenance. The chapters covering more science based topics such as the soil food web, cation exchange, and photosynthesis are written in a way that makes it easy to understand and entertaining. I would recommend this book for anyone that is interested in gardening and soil science and even those who are more familiar with the topic but enjoy reading. Thank you NetGalley, Diane, and Story Publishing for the opportunity to enjoy this advanced reader copy!
Profile Image for Red.
448 reviews1 follower
February 3, 2020
In GROW YOUR SOIL, Diane Messler states that gardening is like making magic. That statement tells me I’m going to love this book, because that’s how I feel. That said, after I finished the book, I went, “Whew!!! That’s a lot to remember!” There was a lot of important information in this book…and it took it a little farther than I was capable of wanting to know. As I sat here in the middle of winter reading it, I got a little depressed…I was already too late to start putting this new info to use. I wish I had read all of this earlier. This is definitely a good “manual” for anyone who is in the beginning stages of becoming a gardener.
Profile Image for Andrea Wright.
813 reviews14 followers
January 24, 2020
Beautiful gardening book that is so full of information, including a good portion of science, yet fun and entertaining to read! I must own this and would recommend one to any gardener you know. I am interested to know if this is also a book that men would enjoy or if it its too soft and pretty looking as to deter from the actual science and info in it.
Profile Image for Annarella.
10.9k reviews105 followers
February 9, 2020
This is an excellent gardening book. It mixes science with hints and it's useful for anyone interested in gardening.
Strongly recommended, it's a useful and interesting book.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
44 reviews1 follower
February 18, 2020
Loved this gardening book for incredible information, delivered with wit. It all starts with the soil, feed the soil to feed the plants. Filled great illustrations. Inspirational and topical. A book for all gardeners.
128 reviews
March 1, 2022
Good information but not well organized. The text directs you to wait for more information in a later chapter, flip to a previous page or read a text box outside of the body of the text. Even at that, some information is repeated.
818 reviews
February 23, 2021
Some good advice, some bad advice. Anecdotal info, not a science based book. More of a "this is what I do" book. Disappointing.
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11 reviews
July 10, 2021
I loved this book! I am not a gardener. I love nature and plants and veggies, and am looking forward to the day I own a house and can create a beautiful, thriving soil food web. The way Diane describes everything in this book didn’t bore me with the science; she made every part of gardening fun and enjoyable. While it will take me quite some time to be able to implement everything discussed here, I’m excited to start stepping into the gardening world where/how I can. For now, I’ll work on composting. :) She breaks processes down into digestible information, and knows when to be more heavily-detailed or keep things general. It was a great read at every turn! Highly recommend for anyone who adores what nature provides for us, and the ways we can sustainably steward the world. 5/5!
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