Book Suggested Books

3 Books That Can Change Your Garden, Your Health, and the Way You Look at Life

Much, if not most, of the information on agriculture that is taught and is widely available has come about because of the power and money of chemical companies.

There’s not as much money to be made when gardeners and farmers work with nature. She’s user friendly and gives freely when she’s made a partner.

With money to pay for constant promotion on a large scale, chemical companies have most folks convinced that chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides) and genetic engineering are needed to grow crops. In truth, chemical agriculture does not work.  And it kills almost everything in the soil, leaving it devoid of minerals and soil life necessary to grow healthy, nutrient dense food. There’s plenty of proof of that. You’ll find a lot of it in these books.

By educating ourselves to the real truth, we can stop buying into the lies of the chemical companies that are promoted just about everywhere as fact. And thus, we can improve our health and lives and those of our families.

These 3 books are a great starting point. I hope you’ll consider reading one or more this winter.

Secrets of the Soil by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird

It’s only been in recent years that I’ve been interested in history of agriculture, chemicals and the organic movement. During those few years I’ve been intrigued to learn of the documented proof of land that has been destroyed by chemicals being returned to good health by using various principles of nature. Intriguing because you see so much opinion to the contrary. Either stating that organic doesn’t work at all or organic doesn’t work on a large scale.

This path of interest led me to Secrets of the Soil. I wasn’t really sure I wanted the book and went to the library first. Since they didn’t have it, they borrowed it from another library for me. It didn’t take me long to realize that this was a book I needed to own, not borrow.

If you haven’t read or studied in these areas, just reading the introduction of this book will give you a good overview of the last 100 years.

The story is told in brief of Liebig, a German chemist, known as the father of chemical agriculture, who “mistakenly deduced from the ashes of a plant he had burnt that what nourished plants was nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash (or potassium carbonate) – the NPK of today’s chemical agriculture.” By the  time Liebig realized his mistake 10 years later – it was too late.  “—the chemical companies were off to such a profitable start there was no stopping them —”

Interesting points are brought out. For example: Various companies like DuPont, Dow, Monsanto, and American Cyanamid that manufactured explosives during WWII  started producing fertilizer after the war only in order to market their surplus.

The greats of organic agriculture are mentioned, one being Sir Albert Howard, who became known as the founder of the organic movement. (J.I. Rodale picked up the banner in the US with Organic Gardening and Farming Magazine.)

You’ll learn of one of the most brilliant soil scientist produced in America, Dr William A. Albrecht. His writings reveal a lifetime of meticulous scientific investigation and give more dynamic proof that organic works!

Facts are given about the harm from chemicals dumped onto our soils that will absolutely astonish you.

For me, most of the book was compelling, but still slow reading. There were parts throughout that were just too far removed from my reality to hold my interest. But overall the book is invaluable and contains a lot of practical information that can help the tinniest garden plot or the largest farm and/or ranch.

It gave me a better understanding of why my way of gardening works so well. And it gave me an even greater desire to make it better.

If you use chemicals and don’t understand the harm they do to the soil and to those who eat the crops produced by them, you’ll find your answers in this book.

Scattered among the pages are discoveries that are just plain amazing and wonderful. One of my favorites was how the songs of our birds in the morning enhance the growth of crops!

Secrets of the Soil will open new courses of action that you didn’t think possible. And at the very least it will change how you see your garden.

Empty Harvest by Dr. Bernard Jensen and Mark Anderson

Dr. Bernard Jensen (1908 to 2001) was one of the all time great holistic pioneers. Holistic medicine treats the whole person rather than just symptoms. And although this would seem common sense, conventional medicine treats only symptoms rather than addressing the cause of the disease.

Mark Anderson is a recognized authority on the topics of global ecology and wholistic health.

I came across Empty Harvest in 2014 when Bill and I were trying to read every book by Dr. Jensen that we could find. He wrote about 55 books. (Too bad we didn’t read and apply his information 10 years ago.)

Much of the information presented in Secrets of the Soil was presented in Empty Harvest, but in a way that I think will be more easily understood by most people.

If you haven’t educated yourself on what’s really going on with food and farming, this book is a quick way (about 160 easily read pages) to allow you to realize what’s going on and how you can help yourself and your family.

Jensen explains the relationship between soil and man.  When man departs from nature, opposes nature, or treats nature ignorantly or abusively, he does so at this own peril states Jensen.

I thought author, John Robbins said it well in a review he wrote of Empty Harvest:
“While exposing the dire consequences of thinking we can grow healthy food with poisons, this excellent book defines positive alternatives, and demonstrates their power to restore us to true health. Empty Harvest lights the way toward living in harmony and happiness with the forces of life.”

Although the copyright is 1990, the book contains information that everyone should be aware of. It’s only outdated in the sense that things have declined even more. For example, it speaks of harmful irradiation of food which was not allowed at that time. It is allowed now. Also, foods like soy – unless they ‘re organic – are more than likely genetically modified.

So, be aware than certain things have changed since the book was written. But the history and the concepts are right on target and applicable today.

In my opinion Empty Harvest is a must read.

It would be an excellent read for kids. Younger children may need some guidance, but teenagers should get the overall picture just fine.  Our children need to know from their beginnings what’s happening so they can make wise choices now and in their future to protect their health and their future family’s health.

Organic GardeningCutting Through the Hype to the 3 Keys to Successful Gardening by Theresa Martz

I received an email the other day from a long time gardener who had just ordered this book.  He wrote, “Just a quick note to let you know how much I am enjoying your gardening book. I am an avid gardener and collect gardening books. I’m finding your book contains a lot of unique and to the point information. Thanks for writing it!”

We corresponded a bit and he wrote again, ” I started collecting gardening (and related) books back in the early 80’s. It’s a passion of mine. Sadly there are way too many “cookie cutter” books out there written by those who simply copy from others. I get the feeling many times that some authors have little self experience. Your book stands out from many others in that you are writing from personal experience and that is one thing I really love about it.”

I never get tired of reading all the great emails I get from folks the book has helped.

If you’re new to gardening this book is a great way to get started on the right foot and remain unencumbered by all the hype that’s out there telling you stuff to do that you don’t need to do.

If you’re a seasoned gardener, like the reader who wrote to me, it just may help you rethink some things and give you some ideas to make gardening even easier and more successful.

The book will soon be in its second printing.  Regrettably, the printers have had to raise the price substantially to cover the increase in paper cost.  (I know from our art business that the price of papers has steadily increased over the past 15 years or maybe longer.)

I disliked the idea of raising the price of the book.  After a lot of thought and figuring I decided to leave the price at $28.95, but the discounted price of $24.95 will no longer be available after December 31, 2015.

If you need copies for Christmas, please get your order to me as soon as possible so I can get them to you in time. There are not many remaining of the first printing, so I’ll ship on a first come, first serve basis.  If I run out of books, I’ll start shipping again as soon as I get the new ones – which hopefully won’t be too long.

Final Thoughts

One of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself, your family, and your garden is to read books that really have good and truthful information in them. It changes how you look at things and opens the door to new and exciting possibilities.

I hope you’ll consider reading one or all 3 as soon as you can. Even reading 10 minutes a day will get the job done.


Secrets of the Soil

Empty Harvest


Organic Gardening, Cutting Through the Hype to the 3 Keys to Successful Gardening – $28.95

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  • Thanks, will add these to my wintertime, fireside reading list as I dream of a new start next spring!

  • Hi!
    I would like to order your book “Organic Gardening” but would rather send you a check. Is that possible? If so, please send info regarding price plus shipping charges. Thanks.

    Lita Sollisch

  • Hi Theresa,
    I am sending you good thoughts and well wishes as you go and grow through all the ‘firsts’ of your first year without Bill. (My late husband’s name was Bill, too.) The good memories are yours to keep no matter what. The following are FYI.

    There was a cartoon of a frog with a smile on its face. The caption was “You would smile too if you could eat what ‘bugs’ you.” In a slightly different way that is what I started to do this fall. I’m learning which weeds and wild plants I can eat safely (chickweed, dandelion, purslane, yarrow, lamb’s quarters for starters; and I’m selling my small crop of Jerusalem artichokes – sunroots – to a local gourmet shop). I am excited to find out how much can be foraged and how much more nutritious they are – free just for the picking (at least on my place where there are no poisons or contaminants, etc.). Since you highlighted books we might like to read in ‘our spare’ time. (I have read your book and was encouraged by it.) I suggest this one to you: Chris Bennett, Southeast Foraging: 120 Wild Edibles, Timber Press, 2015.

    Several of your commenters mentioned increased productivity by going organic. I have been reading about Mason bees, and they can increase orchard production even better than honey bees! I don’t have an orchard, but I do have berries and veggies and flowers. I just put out a house for them last year and they came and ‘cocooned,’ and the little leaf-cutter bees came in next. The Xerces Society has a book about Native Pollinators, and Crown Bees(.com) wants to get the word out about the solitary bees and they will buy my surplus bee cocoons (when I get to that point).
    Thank you for your book and your blog and your spunk and spirit.

  • Betty, these will be great to read by the fireside!

    Lita, I sent you an email and gave you the information you need to send a check. Thanks in advance for your order.

    Marsha, thanks for taking time to give us the benefit of this interesting information. It really adds to the post. I’ve included links to the books and the Mason bee house in your comment so folks can check them out immediately.

    I was sorry to learn that you lost your Bill as well.

    I loved your note of appreciation to me at the end. That meant a lot. Just to see what the dictionary had to say about the word “spunk”, I looked it up. It gave the definition as courage and determination. I took it one step further and looked up “courage”. One definition was “the ability to do something that frightens one”. The other was “strength in the face of pain or grief”. Both fit. (I hope I continue to have the strength.) Thanks Marsha!

  • Theresa,

    I thank you for mentioning your book as one of the three! I love your faithfulness to the ultimate way of gardening in harmony with nature. And I love that you are still here with us, encouraging and mentoring! I have been praying for you and all of your readers who have been touched by your blog – and your book!

    And can I say thank you to Marsha for posting? I appreciate hearing from other foragers!

  • This was just too good not to share it! :

    A friend and reader from California just ordered my book last week — She spent 4 hours at Pep Boys today getting her truck made road worthy.

    She writes, “And, I had opportunity to read your book….. from cover to cover! While I was busy reading, a customer walked through the waiting area and got my attention long enough to point at your book and state, “That’s my favorite gardening book!” Then, with a thumbs up, he hurried on his way. So, you do seem to get around. Good for you! ”

    Sure made me smile!


  • Hi Theresa..
    I am writing this not from your continent nor from the one next to you.. rather from Sri Lanka, in the Indian subcontinent.. ! I am not a “regular” gardener, but for the last year or so, started to experiment gardening in organic way, in a small yard at my home.. When, I surfed for my quest for organic way of gardening, I came across your blog and at once I found your way of persuasion is quite different .. I realized that the main attraction of your writing comes from the spirit of your sincerity and your commitment to nurture the Mother Nature..!

    I wish to posses your book (though it is at the “luxury” range from general standard for any books in Sri lanka) but let me know it is ok to send money through US dollar draft..? Please send me the details if so or any other way to make the payment for the book and shipping..

    Keep it up the good effort ..

  • Niwas, welcome to TendingMyGarden! Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts. It is appreciated VERY MUCH!
    I am delighted that you are starting to experiment with gardening and that you chose the organic approach. If you have questions as you go forward, I will be happy to help you in any way I can.

    For you to get your book, we can proceed one of two ways :

    #1 – this is the way that I would prefer because it is easier and you will get the book more quickly:

    * Go to and order the book. Since you are out of the country it will not show shipping costs, only the cost of the book $24.95.
    * When I receive notice that you have ordered I can go into my paypal and quickly find how much
    shipping will be.
    * I will then contact you and send you a link that allows you to pay for shipping.
    * When I receive notice that you have processed that part, then I can ship your book the next business day

    #2 – if you prefer to send payment via the mail, it’s very slow

    *You can send me your complete mailing address via email –
    *I’ll have to take the book to the post office and get the shipping amount.
    *Then I’ll contact you via email with the amount due and my address and you can
    send payment.
    * When payment reaches me I’ll let you know and proceed with shipment.

    Email me if you need more help.
    Thanks again for your interest and taking time to comment, Niwas.

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