Book Review: The Super Organic Gardener by Matthew Appleby

When I was first asked if I wanted to review this new book by Matthew Appleby, my immediate thought was that I am not currently an organic gardener, never mind a super one.  My second thought was that it would be interesting to know more about organic gardening.  I have not paid for this book, but my words and opinions are my own.
When the book arrived I saw that the sub-title is 'Everything you Need to Know about a Vegan Garden'.  Not only am I not an organic gardener, I am also not a vegetarian or vegan gardener.  I suddenly was not sure if this book was for me at all, what relevance could it have for me?

My concerns were as unfounded as they were silly.  This is a very interesting book and it has lots of relevance; you do not need to be vegan or vegetarian to learn from this book.  When I first picked it up I admitted to myself that I had never heard of vegan gardening.  It is more than just not using blood, fish and bone fertilisers.  It is a ethical stance to gardening, so its not just about not using animal products/byproducts, it is about not exploiting animals.  This includes discussions such as not using animal manure as a fertiliser.  Its use is not in line with vegan principles because it is an animal by-product.  The book has explains that there are alternatives that could be used.  Matthew tells us that manure is made up of constituent parts from what the animals eat.  If what we want to achieve is to use rotting versions of these constituents then why do we have to put them through an animal in order to achieve this?

As you would expect a clear aim of this book is to convince and reinforce the philosophy of veganism.  So there is a lot of information about the possible issues about using animal by-products.  There is also information from research studies and good solid practical advice.  There are chapters on the importance of good soil, of making your own and buying compost and fertilisers.  There is a really good  A to Z of which vegetables to grow.  There are also chapters about wildlife and animals in gardens and how to deal with garden pests organically.

This is a fascinating book; clearly if you are already vegan or thinking about becoming one then this book will be invaluable to you.  There are discussions of ethics and principles plus pointers to good suppliers of materials that will be useful.  If you are not vegan but want to think more about becoming organic and learn more about an ethical approach to gardening, then I think you will find this book very useful.  It is a book that will inform you and make you think.

The Super Organic Gardener by Matthew Appleby is published by Pen and Sword Books