Thursday, November 10, 2016

HOW PLANTS WORK The science behind the amazing things plants do (2015), by Linda Chalker-Scott, a Review

In her recent book Linda Chalker-Scott makes plant physiology accessible to anyone interested in gardening knowledgeably, efficiently and economically.  Examples of some questions Chalker-Scott addresses are:

·         How do you garden so that you use less fertilizer and fewer pesticides?
·         If phytohormones control everything from growth to reproduction and death in plants, how can we as gardeners help them do their job?
·         How do plants tell time, move to follow the sun and change color?
·         Nitrogen…where does it come from and how much do plants need?

Linda Chalker-Scott, plant physiologist, horticulturist and extension specialist at Washington State University spells out how plants do what they do. 
She clearly explains:
·         how plant cells work;
·         the workings behind roots and mycorrhizal fungi including why, when and how to mulch;
·         the facts behind NPK fertilizers and the details of the nutrients and minerals plants need;
·         how plants transform sunlight into sugar;
·         anthocyanins and how they protect plants, help them retain water and cause leaves to change color;
·         pruning and staking basics – how, when and where, and
·         plant sex – from ferns and mosses to bulbs, corms, tubers, flowers and berries.

Chalker-Scott writes in an accessible and entertaining way that engages both experienced and novice gardeners.  Included are many photos and examples.

Also by Linda Chalker-Scott, THE INFORMED GARDENER (2008).  In this science-based book, Chalker-Scott busts dozens of myths about gardening.  A few are:
·         the myth of organic superiority;
·         the myths of soil amendments, phosphate fertilizers, bonemeal and hydrogels
·         and the myths of landscape fabrics, clean compost and ‘pretty’ mulch. 

Each myth is followed by an extensive list of peer-reviewed references in which the authors are writing for an academic audience.

Linda Chalker-Scott was the keynote speaker at the first Statewide Colorado Master Gardener Conference on Oct 2-4, 2016.  Her books were highly recommended by the attending CSU professors and extension agents. Other books by Chalker–Scott are The Informed Gardener Blooms Again and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science, Practical Application.

Article by: Molly Niven, Master Gardener

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