Practical yet visionary, broad-ranging yet focused on the basics one needs to know, this is a great place to start on the permaculture path. The new edition builds solidly on the success of the first. An amazing achievement showing how we can and must live in harmony with nature! They are here to stay and flourish.
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Toby Hemenway distilled a lot of overwhelming disciplines, including a lot of science, into a neat, easy to follow course here. Hemenway uses ecology, botany, biology, and chemistry to explain how to reason garden design yourself. Permaculture is about understanding the interactions of systems in nature and then implementing soil, water, and perennial plant designs that replicate natural ecological communities, so that that your design basically allows the feedback loops and natural processes inherent in your garden to do the rough gardening work of watering, fertilizing, planting, and surviving weather shocks.
The best part of this book is the way Hemenway teaches the critical thinking skills to apply permaculture principles in many different settings. Many "homesteading" books fail because they are based in one climate or assume a certain size yard. Then he teases out the differences and asks what are the different plants reacting to and why? So the reader gains general tools and also the skill to apply them, with the added bonus that most examples were chosen for their relevance to North American climate and soil, so US-based readers can try them out first before striking out on their own designs.
What really makes this book pop are the last few chapters on guilds and food forests. Finally an approachable guide to directly replicating natural plant communities! Hemenway examines how to figure out what plant communities grow in the habitat where you live, and how to substitute related species with human uses for the usual, natural species found in that ecosystem. I love this because it is awesome. I also love this because it encourages the gardener to go out and understand local forests and maybe even learn to forage while also learning to cultivate the same ecological structures that local wildlife need for survival wildlife here including bugs and birds , turning the home gardener from someone kind of reducing the overall burden on agricultural land freeing some up for wildlife habitat, maybe to someone actually creating a native habitat oasis where they get their food.
I love it. Love it! I already made my mom read this book, and I really want everyone else in the world to read it too. This year I read half of this plus about a dozen other homesteading garden books by March, and then in the spring we built a sheet-mulched raised bed and a pretty epic potted garden, with the main goal of creating soil.
Not much thought went into plant choice or placement. Next year, the perennial planting will begin, with Hemenway as the main guide. Practical ways to implement permaculture--which is the most efficient way to garden. As I dream of my own fruit orchard, I want to lay it out as recommended in this book: with bird and insect attracting shrubs to deter fruit tree predators without spraying and nitrogen-fixing plants to lesson the need for fertilizers and mulching plants to decrease the watering needs.
I love the idea of planning out my landscape so it takes care of itself as much as possible.
Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture
Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture