Cover Image: Grow Your Soil!

Grow Your Soil!

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Member Reviews

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.
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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.
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This is an informative book written in a really engaging style. Perfect for absolute beginners and those with a bit more experience.
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This book is packed with information about the magnificent ecosystem found in your own backyard. I really enjoyed the illustrations, and took so much away from text. Highly recommend if you’re interested in learning more about creating and maintaining a healthy garden!
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I'm not sure anyone needs an entire book on soil.  Don't get me wrong, I am a retired horticulture professor and have been gardening for over 50 years.  I know the importance of soil.  I'm just not sure people will buy a book about it.  That said, it's done quite well, with a few exceptions I"ll pass on to the publisher.  
Things I liked:  
--Nice boxes that emphasize main points or interesting statistics
--Uses good analogies (e.g., making soil is like building a house) to explain the complexities
--Science is sound and nicely explained for lay person
Things I didn't like: 
--Would be nice to have directions (e.g., how to use cardboard as a mulch) arranged in numbered lists, instead of written in paragraphs.
--Color scheme (especially pages with salmon-orange background and white/brown text) lacks contrast and would be difficult for vision-impaired to read
--Using weeds you just pulled as mulch is OK as long as they don't have seeds or spreading rhizomes.  I don't buy the argument that it builds "immunity" to those weeds.
--Anthropomorphizes a bit too much.  A little is fine, but it's everywhere in this book.
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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 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!
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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!
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This book is a fun read that most casual gardenrs dont consider -the soil you put your plants in. I was lucky my son spent a semester in college with a professor passionate about organic gardening and brought homes great tips lots of them suggested in this book . So read this book now before you start planting for Spring and Summer. And may your plants be bountiful.
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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.
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I have always imagined having a large garden filled with vegetables, flowers and everything in between but when I have tried I always fail miserably. 
While reading Grow Your Soil I have realised that I haven't been taking care of my soil like I should. It all starts with the right soil! The right food for plants! 
There is so much information on how to have a healthy, well looked after garden if you take care of the ground it grows in. There are so many useful tips, definitely a book I would gift to my dad and also my mother in law, both gardeners.
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Diane Miessler has combined science with an entertaining narrative style to produce a very readable and informative book..
This is a book to encourage people to get out there and get growing things, but to do so in a way that benefits both the soil in your garden and the health of the whole planet.
I've been gardening for many years but I learnt a lot from this book: the chapter on bacteria and fungi was particularly enthralling (and that's a sentence I never thought I would ever write).
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This book gives you a lot of ways to grow your soil, and It's very useful for everyone. I felt inspired and build a new part for my garden. 

It's a good book for begginers and experienced people who need more advices or information about soil. 

Copy in exchange of an honest review.
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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.
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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.
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I read the ARC provided by the publishers through NetGalley.

A well-thought, comprehensive and user friendly no-fertilizer-gardening manual with lots of useful info for gardeners of any level. From soil microorganisms to mulch and compost tea, this book talk about all the things one might need to build a microbe-friendly soil. 

Loved it and I'm definitely going to get a copy for my bookcase.
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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.
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I have mixed feelings about books that try to make science “fun”; often in trying to make the subject matter easy to read, the reader gets a little side-tracked.  However, whilst there were parts of “Grow your Soil”  where the tongue-in-cheek silliness frustrated me, and some language  (“ the more I learn about soil microbiology, the AMAZEDER I get”, for example), jarred, I found myself enjoying reading the book.  

Using building a house from the roof down as an analogy for making rich soil was an excellent way of describing the process.  Understanding what makes good soil and core subjects such as microbes and CEC are clearly explained. The important message of working with nature: no-till, no-fertilizer gardening, and the focus on mulching and composting came across really well.

This book would be a useful addition to all gardeners, especially for someone determined to create a healthy, organic garden.
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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.
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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. 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 (publisher) for providing me with this eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
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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!
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