Title: Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist
Author: Michael Judd
Strong points: Right from the get-go, this book shows it’s true colors and understanding of design. It is well laid-out and beautiful to look at. It guides you through pursuing a permaculture garden with very clear instructions on how to incorporate small projects into your overall planting to eventually create a larger integrated garden. Great illustrations and photos help you visualize your own creation and offer direction in creating it. Concisely written, in an easy to follow and engaging style, Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist shows you that, yes you can create a permaculture landscape regardless of whether you garden on a small suburban lot or on larger acreage.
Weaknesses: This book is not just about fruit. Well, of course not! Nor is this actually a short coming. Permaculture is all about incorporating many types of plants: herbs, beneficial insect-attracting forbs, fungi, and other plants to complement each other in creating a naturalized growing environment. I can’t find fault with that. Actually I love it!
Green thumbs rating:
Michael Judd introduces the concept of permaculture by noting “Edible landscaping is the new American garden. It cross-pollinates a desire for tasty food with nostalgia, greater food security, and a need to stop mowing so damned much.” Amen!
Right up front, I’ll say it, I love this book. I love it from an author and publisher’s view point and I love it from a gardener’s viewpoint. From a practical standpoint, this is a book you will want to take to the garden as a real how-to manual. As a publisher, loving beautiful and well designed books, as I do, I’d hate to get it dirty. (So maybe you need two copies). I find the folded end flaps handy as both page markers and clever as a possible place to keep a few pertinent notes or observations as you work through any of the projects presented in the book.
One aspect of the current permaculture following today that concerns me is the various ways I see permaculture presented.. Often, mainly on the internet, I see a formulaic focus of “stuff the whole habit within the drip-line of a tree and create a no-care guild that will be problem free.” This really doesn’t address the true needs of the individual plants within the ecosystem. It may seem like an easy recipe for the novice, but frequently when I am asked about a fruit garden that failed to prosper, this is the approach that was taken. The flip side of the overly simplified formula is the technical tome that is so overwhelming, it is hardly an enticement to get a gardener to even consider permaculture. Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist, in contrast, is inviting and clear, offering just the right blend of simplicity and depth to help both the novice and experienced gardener dig into permaculture and harvest success.
Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist opens with a look at what permaculture design is intended to create. Author, Michael Judd has spent time living with indigenous people in Mexico and Nicaragua and practicing permaculture hands-on. (You can learn more about those stories in the book as well.) Lucky for us, he is now putting his experience to shovel-in-the-ground practice as he develops edible landscapes in suburban Maryland and shares that with us in this book.
You will be introduced to the importance and how-to of rain water harvesting via the use of swales; hugelkultur for creating organic-matter-rich raised beds; herb spirals for culinary use and attraction of beneficial insects; edible fungi; and the food forest of perennial fruit trees and bushes. All these concepts are presented as mini-projects that you can undertake, one at a time, as you develop your “work in progress” edible landscape. Excellent illustrations and a generous number of functional photos make it easy to visualize what each project could look like and how it will function.For extra fun, you’ll find a few recipes sprinkled about the book.
I like Michael’s approach of starting a food forest with individual tree squares, letting the trees get established and then adding to their environment by under-planting with nitrogen fixing ground covers and nutrient seeking grow and cut sheet mulch plants that are not excessively competitive with the developing fruit tree. Hugelkultur raised beds of small berries or herb spirals to attract beneficial insects or pollinators can be created as separate thriving plant areas within the garden eco-system rather than forced to compete in close proximity under dense tree canopies.
Although Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist includes a brief chapter on unusual fruits, it is not an in-depth plant care guide. You would do well to pair it with some topic focused books on fruit, vegetables, herbs, soils, and pests to round out your understanding of your garden plants’ growing requirements. Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist will certainly get you started right with a well designed and functional edible landscape.
Enjoy Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist and the fruits of your harvest!
# of pages: 143
Publication Date: 2013