Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Gaia’s Garden – Book Review

The article  below appeared originally online at  Would I Eat It Again Food Blog about Toby Hemenway’s book Gaia’s Garden, Second Edition: Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture.

I just finished reading this book.  I have been reading as many books on permaculture that I can for the past month. This is by far the best book on the subject that I have found.  Since permaculture was developed in Australia, most of the books deal with different plant and animal species and you have to constantly exchange north for south and vice versa.  This book deals with plants that are available in the northern hemisphere, our pest, and most importantly it does it on the scale of an urban or suburban yard.  Books from Australia tend to deal with the ideas and concepts without going into detail on how to implement them.  Or they give practical advice if you have acreage, but not if you have a 1/4 acre plot.  

Gaia’s Garden goes step by step describing what permaculture is, what all of the pieces are, how the pieces fit together, how to design your ecological garden, and how to implement it.  While the author does explain how an ecosystem works, it does not feel like an elementary school lesson like most of the other books I have read recently.  Unlike other books that mention a few species of useful plants, most of which are not available where I live or will not survive where I live. The author provide long list of plants that are useful and then provides a very helpful resource section where you can actually find someone selling the plant.  Though the author lives in the north west and I live in the southeast many of the species overlap.  I live in an area that does not freeze enough for many fruiting trees, or it is too hot for them.  But It is too cold in the winter for most tropical plants too.  Still I was able to find many cultivars of the species mentioned in the book that were breed for and available in this area. Ideas like keyhole gardens and guilds that are breefly mentioned in other books are gone over in detail here.  Nothing that I have seen before this book showed how to link multiple keyhole gardens into a functional bed, he does. What little information I have read on guilds deals with individual trees, not an entire yard or food forest.  The author shows how to build a guild around a single tree and how to build multiple connected guilds across a larger area.

This book is not meant to be all inclusive, it is packed with information, but no one book can cover everything.  So he provides a bibliography filled with sources of more information on topics not fully covered in the book.  I feel confident that I can design and implement a permaculture system for my yard based on the information in this book. I could not say that about any other permaculture book I have read.  I got this book from ILL, but it has so much reference material that I will want to read through again and again that I will have to buy it.  That is unless someone wants to buy it for me for a fathers day present.

Click here to read the original post>>


To Create Climate-Secure Foodscapes, Think Like a Plant

The techniques and prophetic vision for achieving food security in the face of climate change contained in Gary Paul Nabhan’s Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land may well need to be implemented across most of North America over the next half-century, and are already applicable in most of the semiarid West, Great Plains, and […] Read More

A Meditation on Garden Weeding

In this excerpt from The Tao of Vegetable Gardening, author Carol Deppe reflects on her time spent daily in the garden and how her actions can often transcend the moment, or the task, at hand. As Carol notes, “On a good gardening day there is nothing better. On a good gardening day there is not […] Read More

Food & Drink Sale! Save 35% on all Food & Drink books through August 1st

Here at Chelsea Green Publishing, we believe that it matters where our food comes from and how it is grown because a healthy food system is key to ensuring a resilient, sustainable, and healthy future for all of us. We’ve put ALL ourfood & drink books on sale for 35% off — but hurry it […] Read More

How Carbon Farming Can Save the Planet

Carbon farming alone is not enough to avoid catastrophic climate change, but coupled with new economic priorities, a massive switch to clean energy, and big changes to much of the rest of the way our societies work, it offers a pathway out of destruction and a route to hope.Along the way carbon farming can also […] Read More

Dear Farmers: Get Grazing! (And, Here’s How)

In her new book, The Art of Science and Grazing, nationally known grazing consultant Sarah Flack identifies the key principles and practices necessary for farmers to design, and manage, successful grazing systems.This book is an essential guide for ruminant farmers who want to create grazing systems that meet the needs of their livestock, pasture plants, […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com