review by Richard Robinson
Gardeners are experimentalists—we try new varieties, push the limits of weather, till or don’t. We observe, try something new, and observe again. Any gardener who has been at this a while accumulates a pretty large store of knowledge about the what, when and where, but less of the why. We learn that peas need a tight trellis to climb, while beans will gladly climb a straight pole. But why the difference? We know that topping a Brussels sprout plant will promote heavier sprouts, but why?
James Nardi, a research scientist at the University of Illinois, has written a book to help curious gardeners ask and answer some of their own “why” questions about phenomena they observe in the garden. The book includes large amounts of plant anatomy and physiology, a good number of classic plant biology demonstrations and experiments, line drawings that explain how to set up the experiments, and micrographs to show what’s going on at the cellular level.
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