Stella Otto: The Backyard Fruit Gardener

Today's Tip: Mow vegetation short around the base of fruit trees and bushes to reduce winter habitat for rodents.

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist — Book Review

Book Review

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist by Michael Judd will help you create an edible landscape in harmony with nature's growing system, whether you grow in an urban garden or on larger acreage.

Edi­ble Land­scap­ing with a Per­ma­cul­ture Twist by Michael Judd will help you cre­ate an edi­ble land­scape in har­mony with nature’s grow­ing sys­tem, whether you grow in an urban gar­den or on larger acreage.

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:

Book Rat­ing:  

Michael Judd's author bioMichael 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.

A sample of the helpful illustrations you will find in Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist

A sam­ple of the help­ful illus­tra­tions you will find in Edi­ble Land­scap­ing with a Per­ma­cul­ture Twist

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!

ISBN: 978–0-615–87379-4
# of pages: 143
Pho­tos: Yes
Illus­tra­tions: Yes
Appen­dix: No
Index: No
Pub­li­ca­tion Date: 2013
Price: $24.95