Book Review :: The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture

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The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture: Creating an Edible Ecosystem
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I love this book! But don’t stop there.

I love this book because not only does it get into the philosophy behind permaculture, it gives you examples of permaculture and the knowledge to design a permaculture system to fit your space and needs. I simply could not put this book down. The author packed this so full of great, useful information that I couldn’t even skim! That’s a big thing to me… I’m a book skimmer. I can get the general message of a book by flipping through or speed reading through the paragraphs, but I found myself actually going back a page and re-reading some of what was written. Not because it was difficult to understand, but because the methods in this book made me think. I love books that make me think! I even had have scratch paper stuffed in the back of the book with notes of crops and ideas I would like to try and especially things that I would like to change about what we are already doing.

The author covers everything I could possibly hope for in this book. How to do everything yourself from compost tea and log beds to trellising and mushroom logs. For the first time, I discovered theories behind building soil up instead of tilling (foreign concept to me) and tree guilds. I had no idea that some of these methods actually produced greater yields than conventional American gardening. I say “American” gardening because, thanks to high school history, I remember that the English would arrange their gardens from shortest shrub to tallest tree. Tree guilds remind me of this, but include so many more components that can give you even more food in the same amount of space without plants competing with each other. Simply enlightening!

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The whole idea behind permaculture just amazes me. I didn’t really have the most educated idea of what “permaculture” meant before, but through this book I have become much more familiar with the concept. So if you are struggling with what permaculture is or why everyone is so ga-ga over it, please please read this book. You need it.

The concept of “inputs and outputs” is something I have been very interested in and just didn’t know how to best execute it on our property before. The idea is that you produce no waste. None.
Example: You input water to your garden and the garden produces (output) vegetables and grains. Your chickens eat the grains (input) and produce eggs and manure (output). The chicken manure is input to the garden to help produce more vegetables and grain. And so it continues.
Obviously that is a very simple example, but imagine that your whole garden, all your animals, and you, are able to have a working relationship between each other where the needs of one element are filled by the yields of another element. It’s a full circle folks.

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So, obviously, I am enamored by this book… which doesn’t happen often. But if you still aren’t convinced that this book is worth it, just wait until spring and summer when I show off our new permaculture-inspired changes. I have a ton of ideas to try out to make our micro farm much more of a closed system. I would love to go all out one day, but until then I have a list a mile long of aspects of our farm that can improve and how to improve them. Trevor will be rolling his eyes and regretting buying this book for me, but I’m sure you will look forward to seeing what comes of this!

Happy reading!

8 thoughts on “Book Review :: The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture

  1. Gonna have to order that book!,I just made rabbit tea as I call it I have tested its effects on a few of my sprouts and my house plants the sprouts that recieved it are over an inch tall and the others have barely sprouted. My plant has gotten 6 new leaves in just 2 days and its the middle of winter! I love it because there is no odor and it will not burn the plants and its all natural. I am saving my milk jugs and gonna start selling it 3 bucks a gallon. Because you can add water as you use it. And it lasts a long time at a fraction of the cost then I can put that money back into more rabbits! Lol Hopefully people start using it instead of chemicals.

  2. Another book you might be interested in is “How to Grow More Vegetables” by John Jeavons. It is available from Bountiful Gardens (www.bountifulgardens.org). The planting methods are similar to permaculture but they use a biointensive method, where they double dig the soil down 2′ and amend with compost. This gives the plants roots more room to grow deeper allowing them to reach moisture and nutrients producing stronger plants that can survive droughts. They also use a honeycomb pattern to space the plants out. The concept is that the plant leaves will shade out weeds and hold in moisture. By double digging the beds the plants roots grow down instead of out and you are able to fit more plants in your beds. I have been planting this way for the past few years and the yields have been incredible. I water and weed less and I am building up my soil with needed nutrients. Healthy soil = healthy plants! The book also contains several charts on plant spacing, when to start your seeds and garden layouts to maximize space. This is one of the best books I have ever purchased!

    • I bought that book recently also, but I’ve only skimmed it so far. It really helped me assess my pumpkin problem from last year and change what I want to do differently this year. I have a lot of farm and garden books…. it’s pretty scary. But I love to read (non-fiction mostly) so I have always been surrounded by piles and piles and stacks and stacks of books.

  3. Normally I do not read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to
    check out and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me.
    Thanks, very nice article.

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