Rating (find out more)
Relevance (for our readers) ★★★½☆
Applicability (in your garden & life) ★★★½☆
Pedagogical impact (style and ease of learning) ★★★☆☆
Is this e-book (e-manual and poster) for you?
Yes, if you are a keen and experienced gardener who wants to know how to intervene in a targeted way to grow healthy and productive plants, without needing pesticides, inorganic fertilizers, or tillage.
If you are a beginner gardener, we recommend that you earmark this manual for a second or third growing season, after having experimented in your garden and observed the way your plants grow.
The e-manual and poster have been designed and written by Dr. Elaine Ingham. Elaine is an American microbiologist and soil biology researcher. Her area of expertise is the “soil food web” and she is a world wide expert and thought leader in this space.
The soil food web is the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil. It describes a complex living system and how it interacts with the environment, plants, and animals.
Elaine can be called “an institution” when it comes to optimising the soil food web. She teaches the world over. You can check her out on YouTube or – if you really want to get into her approach – you may want to enrol for one of her fully-fledged online courses. We review these in our MOOC (online courses) section.
Thanks to this manual and poster you acquire
Please note. We review and e-book and a poster which come in a pair. You must purchase both in two separate purchasing processes. The manual or the poster alone won’t make sense.
Also, you’ll need the simplest microscope you are able to afford.
Over the last 50 years, practices have been developed in agriculture and horticulture that have destroyed the balances that exist in soil.
Destruction of soil life occurred, in part because no reliable methods existed to assess life in soil or compost. It was commonly assumed that there is no correlation between microbial biomass and plant production. Microbial biomass includes fungi, protozoa, nematodes, microarthopods.
The poster helps us grasp the life in the soil, as seen through a microscope.
We can observe all sorts of very tiny creepy crawlies (also referred to as biomass) such as bacteria, funghi, protozoa and nematodes. The aim of this training is to obtain the “just-right” diversity of beneficial biomass for specific plant families. This gives them the strength to protect themselves against disease, absorb the most needed beneficial nutrients and sets the scene for strong root growth in a soil that retains water in just the right way.
You’ll find that soil is quite different in many patches of your garden. With Elaine’s method you can analyse each patch quickly and easily, without needing to send samples away for (expensive) and rough analysis.
With a bit of practice, you will soon be able to apply targeted remedies to each patch, for example by adding a customised compost mix.
The poster illustrates what bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes look like. In fact you can look at any material – from yoghurt, to soft drinks, to lettuce leaves, or cow manure. What is in your compost? Your soil? Your compost tea? Your mulch?
The manual is a 31-page document which describes each photo of the poster in a scientific and detailed way.
You learn how to prepare samples and how to use the microscope for optimised analysis.
You discover how to make a qualitative and a quantitative assessment of the micro organisms present and then how to interpret the data and what to do with it. Templates are included.
Different plants need different ratios of micro organisms. There are no absolute values for “one size fits all”. Understanding what each group in the food web tells you is critical. The manual discusses different ranges and scenarios.
The information provided is scientifically solid, based on many years of research from reputed universities.
If you have a bit of a scientific mind and interest, you’ll find the information provided to be generous and extremely useful; a super value add for your garden.
Such courses are quite rare and probably not easily available in situ in your location.
Great value for money, given the thoroughly researched scientific information shared by Elaine, and the subsequent value-add for your garden.
May need improvement
The English language is sometimes a little mistreated. A more pleasant read and better assimilation could be achieved if there were less passive sentences and grammatical mishaps. Perhaps an opportunity for a proof reader! 🙂
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