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My goal in producing this book is basically what I have been doing all my professional life - sharing science based information to anyone who wants to learn.

There are many gardening books and websites. Many are based on opinion and experience. These two characteristics are good, but even better when backed by scientific research.

In this book, I share information that has been substantiated by scientific research. If it is my opinion, I will simply say so, but you won't find much of that. The information I convey is either based on research I have conducted or am familiar with or information which I have gathered from various university websites. This material is mostly applicable to the tropical and subtropical world.

Nick Sakovich is Professor Emeritus from the University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension where he held the position of Citrus and Avocado Farm Advisor in Orange County, California and later in Ventura County as Citrus Advisor. During his tenure, Nick was also Administrator for the UC Master Gardener Program in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

As Farm Advisor, Nick's primary focus was research and education serving the commercial growers of the county. While conducting research in sub-tropical agriculture, he directed seminars and conferences and taught various courses. His writings are published in professional journals, trade magazines and newsletters.

After 25 years with UC, Nick retired in Hilo, Hawai`i and joined the University of Hawai`i Master Gardener Program. Since 2008, his weekly gardening column in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald has been highly acclaimed by his readership. The entries in this book, as well as on the website,, are based on those articles. On occasion, Nick teaches horticultural classes through the University of Hawai`i Continuing Education Department.

The Gym or the Garden?

What activity is good for your heart and blood flow, can provide strength for the body, increase flexibility, relieve stress and, as a byproduct, produce good nutritious food? Why it's gardening, of course.

Gardening uses all of the major muscle groups. It provides those physical exercises that are listed for the prevention of heart disease, obesity, adult-onset diabetes and high blood pressure. It also provides the strength training important in the prevention of osteoporosis. A University of Arkansas study on the risk for osteoporosis, found that besides lifting weights, gardening maintained a healthy bone mass.

Even gazing upon the garden can be beneficial to those recovering from illness. In a study in Uppsala, Sweden, 160 postoperative heart patients were asked to look at a landscape, an abstract artwork, or no picture. Those who looked at the landscape had lower anxiety, required less pain medicine, and spent a day less in the hospital than the control group patients.

Gardeners themselves mention other benefits such as the satisfaction of producing their own produce and flowers, being outdoors, learning about horticulture and using gardening as an outlet for artistic expression. Many gardeners also found a sense of common purpose with their friends when working in community gardens.