The Bottom Line
- Thorough explanations of how various creatures affect the soil
- Nardi has a lively and straightforward writing style
- Color plates provide interesting detail about various organisms
- The book is also useful as a field guide in identifying various creatures
- There is an entire chapter devoted to experiments for examining soil life
- Dense reading--some may prefer to consider this a reference book
- Most of the graphics in this book are illustrations, rather than photos
- Life in the Soil is both a narrative of the soil and the life that inhabits it and a guide book of the species found there.
- It thoroughly explains the interconnectedness of various species, including humans, and their effect on the soil.
- An entire chapter devoted to compost gives us the science behind how and why compost works to improve soil.
- The book includes chapters on every aspect of soil life, from microbes and protazoa to insects, worms, and mammals.
Guide Review - "Life in the Soil" by James Nardi--Book Review
It's safe to say that if you're a die-hard gardener, you have a certain affection for, or maybe even obsession with, the soil. As gardeners, we understand that the health of our soil directly affects the health of our plants, and we constantly work to improve that soil.
Biologist James Nardi's book is a soil-lover's dream. He takes you through the first creation of soil due to the weathering of rock and the colonization of that sterile soil by the hardiest of inhabitants, and right on to what it really takes to create a healthy, active soil. As the back cover of the book states, "the biological world under our toes is often unexplored and unappreciated, yet it teems with life." Nardi does a fantastic job of teaching us all about this unexplored world, and it's clear through his writing that he's truly fascinated by soil life. Several passages read like fantasy literature rather than the dry text that one would generally expect from a scientific text.
Life in the Soil is organized into two distinct parts. The first part basically tells the story of how all of the different types of soil inhabitants (from plants, fungi and microbes up to vertebrates) work together to make the soil healthy. Nardi does a great job of illustrating what a truly fragile system the soil is: each organism has a job, and is necessary to keep everything in balance. The second part of the book is an encyclopedia of a huge variety of organisms that live in the soil. As a bonus, the book also includes several color plates, as well as a chapter that gives a thorough explanation of how and why compost works.
All in all, Life in the Soil is a worthwhile and enjoyable read for any truly obsessed gardener or naturalist.