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Garden Alchemy

Many gardeners love a good cookbook for the bounty we grow. But what about recipes for good gardening itself? Garden Alchemy by Stephanie Rose (of Garden Therapy) brings us recipes for all kinds of DIY gardening - from soil & fertilizer to propagation and natural pest management. Read on for a review of this great guide, including 80 “recipes and concoctions!”

By Stephanie Rose
Reviewed by Sarah Heidtke, Dakota County Master Gardener

Garden Alchemy

Garden Alchemy covers a wide range of natural solutions for indoor and outdoor gardening.  Free plants by propagating root cuttings? Yes, please - see page 49! Houseplant tea, anyone? How about a great primer on worm food and compost? Minnesota gardeners can certainly appreciate natural pest management to bring in the birds, bees and bugs we want while deterring the pests we could do without (see page 112 for fungus gnat sand or page 119 for trapping stink bugs!)

This book is a fun read - learn about the time the author offered to host plants for a charitable organization in her sunny front yard and ended up with 300 unmarked plants arriving all at once. It’s also a great growing guide to keep on hand.  The solutions are based on natural science and documented experimentation of learning through plants.

Ms. Rose begins with a discussion of soils and mulches - including how to test the chemistry and structure.  She offers many recipes, written in cookbook form, for mixing and amending the soil based on the growing needs.  The ingredients are mostly simple and found at home or a local garden center.  The same is true of the natural fertilizer concoctions she offers later in the book.  There are several fun activities for gardeners of all ages - think seed strips, diy pots, and bird feeders.  Many can be completed in a short afternoon.  The pictures are beautiful and add to the clear instructions throughout.  

“It’s getting your hands dirty that will give you the definitive answer how best to grow plants in your unique garden.” As Master Gardeners, we do our best to answer garden questions with science-based advice.  Sometimes (often?) the answer is “it depends.”  Truth be told, there are a lot of variables that go into gardening.  This book makes it fun to learn about our gardening space and experiment with growing solutions. Educated trial and error, with a good dose of patience, are unavoidable parts of the process to, as the author says, “work to build on the foundation Mother Nature has created.”  

The Canadian author, Stephanie Rose, also has a great website full of advice that works for northern gardeners -   

I encourage you to check out both the book and the website for great information!  Your garden will thank you.

Photo Credit: Book Jacket (1)

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