Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City
With contributions from Jonathan Bates
"Just when I figured I had heard it all in growing food, comes a book that makes me realize I don't know the half of it. Paradise Lot is an amazing, almost unbelievable account of how to grow some 150–200 food- and nitrogen-producing plants on a measly one-tenth of an acre, providing food year round in a cold climate. The authors reveal in great detail how they do this, starting with poor urban backyard soil and using totally organic and permaculture methods. They have raised 400 pounds of perennial fruits and vegetables in addition to many annual vegetables per year in this tiny garden. With more time, knowledge, and labor, they are sure they can produce appreciably more. If you want your imagination challenged and intrigued, this is the book for you. As the authors say, here is proof positive that with proper knowledge and will there is no such thing as food scarcity."
—Gene Logsdon, author of A Sanctuary of Trees and Small-Scale Grain Raising
Featured in The New York Times!
One of Amazon.com's Top Books of February 2013!
How we did it and the challenges along the way.
When Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates moved into a duplex in a run-down part of Holyoke, Massachusetts, the tenth-of-an-acre lot was barren ground and bad soil, peppered with broken pieces of concrete, asphalt, and brick. The two friends got to work designing what would become not just another urban farm, but a “permaculture paradise” replete with perennial broccoli, paw paws, bananas, and moringa—all told, more than two hundred low-maintenance edible plants in an innovative food forest on a small city lot. The garden—intended to function like a natural ecosystem with the plants themselves providing most of the garden’s needs for fertility, pest control, and weed suppression—also features an edible water garden, a year-round unheated greenhouse, tropical crops, urban poultry, and even silkworms.
In telling the story of Paradise Lot, Toensmeier explains the principles and practices of permaculture, the choice of exotic and unusual food plants, the techniques of design and cultivation, and, of course, the adventures, mistakes, and do-overs in the process. Packed full of detailed, useful information about designing a highly productive permaculture garden, Paradise Lot is also a funny and charming story of two single guys, both plant nerds, with a wild plan: to realize the garden of their dreams and meet women to share it with. Amazingly, on both counts, they succeed.