loligo: (anemone)
[personal profile] loligo
The first book I ever read about permaculture was Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway (which is coming out in a 2nd edition this spring). It explained the basics of the theory and presented some inspiring examples, but it was kind of short on nitty-gritty details, particularly regarding plants suitable for eastern North America. (Most English-language resources on permaculture focus on Australia or the U.K., because that's where a lot of the hands-on work has been done.)

When we bought our house a couple years ago, I knew I wanted to use permaculture ideas in revitalizing the long-neglected garden, but I just didn't know where to begin. I was actually thinking of hiring a permaculture consultant to get us started, much as that goes against my DIY ethos, because I was just *that* confused. But then I found Edible Forest Gardens, and suddenly I had all the information I could wish for.

It's a two-volume book. The authors say that vol. 1 focuses on Vision & Theory and vol. 2 focuses on Design & Practice, but there's enough overlap to make either volume useful on its own, should you happen to run into just one in a used book store. For example, a very practical aspect of vol. 1 is the lengthy appendix describing forest gardening's "Top 100" most useful plants. I actually found vol. 2 to be a bit tl;dr in places, when it comes to the design process, but people with a larger lot (or more site flexibility) might need a lot of the info that I skimmed over.

The highlight of vol. 2 is the Plant Species Matrix, detailing the properties and uses of over 600 species suitable for forest gardening in eastern North America. This is the kind of solid, specific information that I was longing for!

I was going to type out the inspiring introduction to vol. 1, which encapsulates a lot of the basic ideas of forest gardening in a nutshell, but then I found that a lot of that information was available at the authors' website here, so I encourage you to go celebrate Earth Day by reading it! It might change how you think about your garden forever!


permaculture: photo of a fruit tree in bloom (Default)
Permaculture: Food From Sustainable Landscapes

November 2012

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