Friday, November 22, 2013

QUICK REVIEW: The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature by Tammi Hartung


This one-of-a-kind book shows you how to create a peaceful co-existence between your vegetable garden and the wildlife who consider it part of their habitat. By understanding and working with the surrounding environment instead of continually fighting it you ll reap a larger harvest with much less stress and effort. Tammi Hartungexplains how to start with a hardy and healthy garden, create beneficial relationships through smart planting, attract helpful insects and pollinators, intentionally create habitats for wildlife, and much more.

Paperback, 144 pages
Expected publication: December 31st 2013 by Storey Publishing
ISBN 1612120555 (ISBN13: 9781612120553)

My Thoughts

This book may be a guide to helping gardeners coexist with wildlife, but it doesn’t read like a reference manual. It is almost like a memoir of the life of a gardener. 

It is full of wonderful ideas for attracting wildlife to your garden, and living cordially with them when you succeed.

The author suggests keeping a “nature journal”. The author will sit in the garden with the journal and jot down her observations-- what she did (fertilizing, trimming, planting), what she saw, problems noted-- so she can see how her actions affect the garden, and what changes she may need to make. She also notes wildlife spotted, and what can be done to keep them coming around without causing conflict in the garden, or where they may need to be deterred.

This book was chock full of little ideas and lessons, many of which I had never heard:

  • There are lots of pollinators you have never considered, including bats and flies.
  • Bumblebees are attracted to blue flowers.
  • Honeybees aren’t native to the US, but were brought here by the colonists from Europe.
  • Butterflies and moths are often attracted to flowers similar in color to themselves.
  • Weeds aren’t always a bad thing. Some are edible (if you don’t treat your lawn with pesticides and the like), and many are food sources for wildlife.
  • Ants don't like cinnamon. Put a line of ground cinnamon on the baseboard at the entrance to your kitchen, or around lettuce and strawberries.
  • Sprinkle crushed chili peppers where animals dig (although this didn't work with keeping my cat out of my potted plants when I tried it years ago).
  • Birds have no sense of smell
  • Use decoy plants, like radishes to lure flea beetles away from broccoli, or sunflowers to lure birds from berry bushes.
  • Mint repels rodents
She also mentions a crafty way to deal with hornworms. One person grows an extra tomato plant, and whenever she finds a tomato hornworm, she just moves it to that plant in order preserve the others. It's a win-win!

The author also gives examples of how nature will take care of things, if you just leave it alone and allow it. She relays an example of discovering horned tomato caterpillars. But when viewing them with a magnifying glass, she then noticed little white rice-shaped bits on the backs of the caterpillars. She realized that parasitic wasps had laid eggs on the caterpillars, and those eggs had hatched into larvae which were now feeding on the caterpillars. Problem solved!
...I didn’t need to use an organic pesticide. The larvae of the wasps took care of the whole situation efficiently, and as nature intended, keeping my tomato plants safe.
This book helps you consider things you may not have otherwise.
...putting up a nest box for solitary bees (i.e., bee species that, unlike honeybees, are not communal) in a tree near a birdbath could result in the bees becoming snacks for the bathing birds. Better to put the bee box in a different part of the garden landscape.
If you are a gardener, or if you enjoy welcoming wildlife into your yard, but want to avoid conflict with it, this book is for you! Interspersed with charming, homey illustrations, it is like taking a walk with the author through her backyard while she teaches you a thing or two about nature and living harmoniously with it.

My Rating: B  


I received a free copy of this ebook through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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