2 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Don't Panic! It's Organic! by Andy Lopez is a mine of information about organic gardening. Lopez is clearly an authority on the subject, and a passionate enthusiast and advocate. Many of his key ideas are expressed in simple, easily remembered slogans, the most important of which is probably: healthy soil = healthy plants. So far, so good.
Unfortunately, the book has not really been designed, written and edited in a way that makes it an easy-to-use practical handbook. It is poorly structured, rambling and repetitive. For instance, to my way of thinking, if someone has already committed to buying a book on organic gardening, they surely do not need to be subjected to repeated admonitions - in large print, bold print AND CAPITALS - not to use chemical fertilizers.
One of Lopez's key points is to do with something called Brix, which one measures with a device called a refractometer. Now this is, I think, quite cutting-edge stuff. Certainly, I'd never heard of it, but I'm just a hapless amateur. More significantly, most of my gardening friends hadn't heard of it either, and one of them used to run a commercial market garden. In fact, the only other person I found who knew all about this is someone employed locally to advise farmers. In other words, Brix is going to be new concept for many of the book's readers. Yet, astonishingly, although he promises on page 10 that "you will know what Brix is and how you can use it for your garden"', and although he makes constant references to it, Lopez makes you wait until page 141 before actually explaining what Brix is all about.
One thing that's not really clear is what kind of readership the book is aimed at. There were times when I wondered what complete beginners to gardening would make of the book. I imagined them scratching their heads over advice such as: “You can rotate the soil every few years.” On the other hand, how much of a beginner would you need to be to have it pointed out that it might be quite a good idea to have your vegetable patch near your kitchen?
Some of the advice is incredibly detailed; Lopez is undoubtedly the go-to man for natural ant control, for example. At other times the advice is maddeningly vague and off-hand. For example, when advocating a “mineral-rich solution”, he helpfully adds, “email me for the one I use.” I wanted to say: "Dude, they bought the book! Just tell them what your mineral-rich solution is!" Actually, later on, there is a recipe for a SuperSeaweed feed (which may or may not be a different thing). Lopez, rather engagingly, tells us that it's slightly different from the one he sells, but will still give “really great results.”
If you already garden in a big way, perhaps commercially, and are thinking about converting to organic methods, this book might be helpful. If you're just an ordinary small-scale gardener, you can pick up some key tips and learn a lot about the whys and wherefores of the organic method. The problem is, though, that you have to wade through nearly 400 pages of verbiage to find all the crucial bits of information that could have been neatly, simply and clearly fitted into less than half that space. So, if you're a practical person who finds reading a bit of a chore, this is definitely not the gardening book you need. The illustrations, though charming, are not in any way illuminating or helpful, and, amongst its other failings, the book is in grave need of a professional proof-reader. A proper index (rather than an elaborated version of the table of contents) would also be a great help. Despite the horticultural wisdom on offer, the chaotic organisation and the errors are so infuriating and unhelpful that I can only I give this book a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. If it were radically cut down and edited, with useful illustrations, it could be a best-seller and make a real contribution to advancing the planet-saving practices that Lopez clearly so genuinely holds dear.
Dont Panic Its Organic
View: on Bookshelves
Like Libs_Books's review? Post a comment saying so!