#3 Joey Green
It really kills me that Joey Green’s book Gardening Magic is published by Rodale Press, a publisher that usually produces high quality books. Green has written a number of books over the years such as Amazing Kitchen Cures, Clean It Fix It Eat It, and, finally, Monica Speaks: Genuine Pearls of Wisdom From Americas Most Famous White House Intern. Clearly, mass market appeal has become his sole criterion.
There are some legitimately useful tips in Green’s book. But when he recommends adding syrup and Geritol for ailing plants, I question his research. I question his research even more when he claims that Peru used to import guano as a fertilizer (Peru is a guano exporter and has been since the 1800s) and that Epsom salts can alter pH (they can’t; Epsom salts are pH neutral). Can anyone tell me why Rodale chose to publish this book? It’s a mess.
How dangerous are the recommendations to you? 3.5 (Most of these recommendations are relatively safe—ill-conceived and stupid—but won’t harm the user.)
How dangerous are the recommendations to plants and the environment? 1 (Many of his recommendations will hurt any plant that they’re applied to.)
How good was the research? 1.5 (There’s someone worse.)
Total score: 6
#2 The New Jerry Baker
Sometime after Jerry Baker published Plants Are Like People he decided to start recommending kitchen-sink type stuff for the garden. These mixes are bizarre, and, simply put, often dangerous to plants (and people to some extent). I have a lot of Old and New Baker literature. It’s OK to read just for fun. My favorite collection of New Baker wisdom though is a set of questions and answers that he did a few years ago on his website. I think he’s taken them off the site now, but I remember him mounting an eloquent defense of using chewing tobacco in the garden. For what it’s worth, chewing tobacco is at least as likely to contain tobacco mosaic virus as the tobacco in cigarettes, not to mention the other noxious properties in the substance. Nonetheless, Baker is a great marketer, and that is why he is so dangerous.
How dangerous are the recommendations to you? 2 (Too much tobacco, too much ammonia, too much hose-end sprayer applications.)
How dangerous are the recommendations to plants and the environment? 2 (Not as bad as Green, but not good by a long shot.)
How good was the research? 1.5 (Once upon a time he did his homework; now it pretty much comes off the top of his head.)
Total score: 5.5
#1 Myles Bader
The title of Myles Bader’s 1,001 All Natural Secrets to a Pest Free Property has both of the necessary characteristics of any guru book. That is to say, it includes both a big number (1,001 in this case) and the word “secrets.” (This is roughly the same formula that New Baker uses.) Whenever I see a book whose title includes a big number of “secrets” I know that I’m in for a really fun read, and Bader’s book does not disappoint. He has a long and illustrious publishing career, having produced such books as 20,001 Kitchen Secrets, 10,001 Household Hints and Kitchen Secrets, 6,001 Food Facts and Chefs’ Secrets, and many more. As if this list of titles isn’t enough to qualify him as an expert on almost everything, he also has a Ph.D. in Preventative Medicine.
It is my firm opinion that this book is stupid and dangerous. Bader is in a category all his own. His book is self-published, promoted on infomercials, and can be found on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. It claims that rotenone has low toxicity to humans and animals. Rotenone is the most toxic organic pesticide that you can buy. And here’s my favorite: “The product is called Sevin and contains a combination of pyrethrums and DE (diatomaceous earth). It is safe to use in vegetable gardens, which most other pesticides are not.” Sevin is actually carbaryl: a synthetic insecticide which can be pretty toxic. Bader’s book contains little or no information that is helpful and a ton of useless and dangerous tips. I treated it as a joke, until I realized that people actually believed the garbage presented in its pages (read the reviews on Amazon.com; it’s nuts).
On a final note—I don’t know what, exactly, a doctor of preventative medicine is supposed to specialize in, but Bader recommends tobacco and tobacco products more than any educated individual I’ve ever encountered.
How dangerous are the recommendations to you? 1 (Too much tobacco and no understanding of the dangers of pesticides.)
How dangerous are the recommendations to plants and the environment? 1 (Pretty bad.)
How good was the research? 1 (Research? What’s that?)
Total score: 3
That was fun, I feel better now.Posted by Elizabeth Licata on April 4, 2007 at 4:54 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.