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Plants for FreeBOOK REVIEWS

Plants for Free

By Andrew Maloy
Published by Shoal Bay Press, Auckland, New Zealand, 1992

Reviewed by Jean Veal

For the beginner student in horticulture or keen hobbyist with a basic knowledge of plants, this small but comprehensive book is easy to follow and the diagrams are appropriate and clear.

In his introduction Mr Maloy lists the reasons for plant nomenclature and its importance. He also lists the advantages and disadvantages of both seed and vegetative propagation.

Directions are given for the hygienic preparation of implements and utensils, a subject often overlooked.

Seed and potting mixes are discussed and correct storage methods detailed; fertilisers are mentioned.

In the chapter on seeds, rather than the method of watering suggested on p. 22, adequate watering and drainage of containers before sowing precludes 'flooding'.

Perhaps fuller directions and precautions for using fungicides could have been given at this stage.

A most important chapter on cuttings follows. All steps from gathering material to potting on are well researched and presented. However, more information would have been welcome on raising cuttings in the garden. This simple technique works for many plants without the expense of potting mix, misting and heating. The only reference is a brief one on p. 30.

In the section on grafting and budding, a wider explanation and more examples of non-compatibility would not have gone amiss. The text and diagrams are encouragement to 'give it a go' and, as Mr Maloy implies, 'practice makes perfect'.

The various methods of layering and division are well explained. To try bulb scaling or scooping is a challenge.

Ferns are too often neglected in books on propagation. Mr Maloy's coverage is welcome. Their life cycle is simply explained. Today ferns are popular and it is to this section many readers will turn.

Occasional references to "Mother Nature" in the text are irritating — why not just "nature"?

Mr Maloy has devoted a lot of time and effort to this book; the contents are instructive and the diagrams excellent. I would recommend it to all plantspeople.

Horticulture in New Zealand: Journal of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture 1993 4(1): 11-12

Available from Touchwood Books

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