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February 18, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

GROUNDWORK: A Gardener's Ecology by Roger B. Swain, illustrated by Abigail Rorer (Houghton Mifflin: $10.95; 162 pp.). The host of the PBS series "The Victory Garden" mixes practical advice with meditations on gardening in a warmly readable manual. Swain stresses the need to husband the topsoil, nutrients and clean water that produce humanity's food: "Gardening well means using natural forces to advantage. It means gardening in a way that preserves the integrity of natural communities, that preserves more than the well-being of the gardener." Although he cites examples from his New Hampshire farm, Swain's advice can be applied by gardeners anywhere.

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