Digging Deep in the Garden: Book One

Published by Earth-friendly Books, 2015. Paperback, 5 x 8in, 64 pages, ISBN: 978-0-9932683-3-5; Kindle e-book ISBN: 978-0-9932683-0-4

“An intelligent reminder of the joys and responsibilities of gardening.”


A CELEBRITY GARDENER’S ‘wobble’ over climate chaos… the effect genetically modified crops might have on our gardens and allotments… how adopting a vegan-organic approach can make growing more compassionate… why pesticides must be consigned to the history books.

“John Walker is asking the sort of questions you don’t usually find asked in gardening magazines.”

In this diverse, lively and thought-provoking collection of essays about gardening and its relationship with nature, John Walker digs deep into gardening’s subsoil to challenge assumptions, raise awareness and encourage us to ponder how what we do on our plots affects our shared living world.


The paperback has 64 cream pages and a rather fine-feeling matt cover…

This first book of John’s earth-friendly garden writing, originally published in Organic Gardening magazine as his popular and long-running series ‘Digging Deep’, includes ‘Time to power down?’, which won the Garden Media Guild Environmental Award in 2007.

This is the first book in my Digging Deep series and is the natural companion to books Two, Three and Four.

Buy Book One…

• From your local bookshop in paperback, by placing an order, giving the book’s title and/or ISBN: 978-0-9932683-3-5.

• In paperback from online bookstores such as Amazon.

• As an e-book for Kindle.

Reviews for Digging Deep in the Garden: Book One

“[John] continually challenges our assumptions about what we can justifiably do in our gardens and allotments.”

As the cover says, ‘John Walker is asking the sort of questions you don’t usually find asked in gardening magazines’ – yes indeed, and the more welcome for that. The award-winning Walker is a true and passionate organic gardener with an abiding concern for the planet too. He is an inveterate critic of what can be termed ‘industrial horticulture’, the kind that assails us with magazine advertisements for chemicals of all sorts and power-guzzling tools beyond belief or necessity. Peat-based composts, patio heaters, artificial fertilisers all come under his lash, because he wants the planet, its soil and its wildlife to survive and thrive. He continually challenges our assumptions about what we can justifiably do in our gardens and allotments, even if we think of ourselves as organic devotees.

“The book is a collection of his contributions to the now-defunct Organic Gardening magazine, but dating from the period 2006-7 which is nearly a decade ago now. Even so, the worries he had then are still largely with us, almost undiminished. There are still climate-change deniers around, GM is still a long way from being snuffed out, the merits of organic food and farming are still under challenge from too many quarters. The big national flower shows still see whole gardens being flown in from the other side of the world, as if carbon emissions were a total myth, and so on. (The Chelsea show, Walker says, is like Skip City until it opens.) He regularly scolds the radio and TV panellists who should know better but do still reach for the pesticide bottles – surely by now they are aware (for instance) of the highly authoritative WHO/IARC report which firmly nailed glyphosate/Roundup as a ‘probable carcinogen’.

“John wants us to step up the composting and green manuring to restore fertility (and innate plant immune systems) by the most natural means, even excluding animal manures if at all possible. Certainly too many farmers are risking turning all our soils into arid deserts unless they take urgent regenerative steps (the subject of a recent excellent meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agro-ecology.) He’s not all doomy though, as there is lots of humour. If, as a dedicated GOGG (Gloucestershire Organic Gardening Group) member you are already a well-established organicist, I think you will find pleasure and profit in this book. And then you can pass it on to someone in more need of it than yourself!”

Cherry Lavell, organic gardener, writing in ALLAGOGG – newsletter of Gloucestershire Organic Gardening Group, Winter 2015.


“A very thought-provoking book which I enjoyed very much.”

“This is a very thought-provoking book which I enjoyed very much. Although I cannot pretend to be a fully organic gardener I am trying, especially having read about nutrient dense food. I’m converting to organic fertilisers and compost.”

Amazon.co.uk 5* review, November 2015.


“It’s all serious stuff, but mitigating this is the engaging writing style, wryly humorous in places, and the rallying cries to action.”

“Is gardening inherently eco-friendly? Could it do better?  These questions seldom make it into the limelight in garden writing. If you do see an article that asks them, though, there’s a good chance it’s been written by John Walker, three times winner of the Garden Media Guild’s Environmental Award.

“Digging Deep in the Garden is a newly published collection of fourteen articles from “Digging Deep”, the series that he originally wrote for Organic Gardening magazine. I was lucky enough to read John’s articles first time round, when Organic Gardening magazine still existed and I too contributed (in a considerably less challenging manner) to its pages. John’s article was always the first I turned to on opening the mag, to see what particular gauntlet was being thrown to the ground that month.

“The wide range of issues covered are still very much with us and all together they pack quite a punch.  Climate change, compost, choice in garden centres, misleading magazine articles for novice gardeners, ethical supply, and the downgrading of organic gardening are merely a handful of the subjects looked at. He looks at current attitudes (still very much current), asks awkward questions, calls people to account.

“It’s all serious stuff, but mitigating this is the engaging writing style, wryly humorous in places, and the rallying cries to action. Yes, we can make a difference on an individual basis, and our choices do matter. It’s heartening to find someone who thinks we have clout. And it’s only by individuals changing their behaviour that general consensus is shifted to a new standing.

“Compared with much of the output of the gardening press, Digging Deep shows what zest can be added to our gardening reading. When the garden industry campaigns to sell as much as possible to as many consumers as possible, it’s arresting to question whether you, too, could manage to ditch the wheelie-bin (yes, the black one too), or whether you really need that heated propagator.

“The arguments carry all the more weight because what shines from the book is that John, not only feels deeply about the matters discussed, but, as an long-time organic gardener, has the experience to speak authoritatively.”

Helen Gazeley’s blog ‘Weeding the Web’, November 2015.


“Hits the nail on the head every time.”

“I’ve always enjoyed John Walker’s columns – he cuts right through to the heart of the important issues that the mainstream garden lifestyle writers simply don’t address. This is a selection of his columns from the late lamented Organic Gardening magazine. Well worth a read.”

Amazon.co.uk 5* review, October 2015.


“[John has] made me think a bit harder about about my gardening and I’ll be making some changes.”

“I found this book to be a timely reminder that gardening can have a positive or negative effect on our world, depending on how it’s carried out. I think of myself as someone who tries to do right by the planet that sustains me, but reading this has gently alerted me to the risk of becoming lazy in the way I go about things. John has highlighted some of the realities about gardening organically in our commercially-driven society, including the myth that we all ‘deserve’ beautiful, productive gardens (and lives?) for minimal effort, while someone, somewhere pays the price. He’s made me think a bit harder about my gardening and I’ll be making some changes. Thanks John.”

Amazon.co.uk 5* review, September 2015.


“Would like to see some more of his gardening wisdom.”

“John Walker is always spot-on. Would like to see some more of his gardening wisdom. I already have his eco-garden book.”

Amazon.co.uk 5* review, September 2015.


“I rarely mention books unless I think they are exceptionally good… this is one you will enjoy.”

“I rarely mention products or books unless I think they are exceptionally good. I think this book is one you will enjoy… John makes us all take another look at the consequences of our everyday actions in a different light – even if we think we are already being as environmentally-friendly as possible… John’s readable, often very entertaining and affordable book will help us all to do that just a little bit better… I very much admire and applaud [John’s] honesty, integrity and courage.”

Organic grower and gardener Nicky Kyle’s blog, July 2015.


“Buy a copy to give to a ‘not very green’ friend.”

“A very well written collection of thought provoking articles. Buy a copy to give to a ‘not very green’ gardening friend or relative! It doesn’t cost much more than a birthday card – you could send/give it instead to your gardening friends. Even as a deeply green organic/permaculture gardener, there were points in this book which made me reflect on my own practices. John Walker does great work examining, documenting, researching and challenging the environmental aspects of gardening – do support him by buying a copy of this book.”

Amazon.co.uk 5* review, July 2015.


“Looks at the innate link between gardening and the natural world.”

This is an important read for everyone from the seasoned horticulturist to those who just happen to have a garden. John Walker looks at the innate link between gardening and the natural world – and the wedge often forcibly driven between them. He asks how, for better or worse, our gardening activities impact the environment and explores ideas not found in mainstream gardening journalism. Digging Deep is witty, thought provoking and, at times, uncomfortable reading that raises important questions about the power of big business and celebrity. Looking forward to Book 2.”

Amazon.co.uk 5* review, July 2015.


“An authentic voice in an often dull crowd of garden writing.”

“Abrupt and direct (and his writing is far less gentle than the way he gardens) we love it – his is an authentic voice in an often dull crowd of garden writing. How great is it to hear someone speak up and say what they believe? It inspires us here at Modern Mint, when we write about gardening, to write better, to research more and not trot out the same old ‘things to do in the garden this month’. There is a place for that, yes, and people want it, but we also crave a voice like John’s – which is why we want to cherish his new book and share it with people.

“What John does best is keep us questioning, improving, learning – not just accepting or taking the easy option in the choices we make in our garden. His new book ‘Digging Deep’ is calling us to take action – are we really digging deep enough into gardening in an earth-friendly way?”

Modern Mint, June 2015.