Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

The Fallacy Of Native Plants – Martin Crawford

A common rallying cry of environmentalists these days is the danger of invasive species and the primacy of native ones. Especially in terms of the plant world, it’s easy to get a group of nature lovers worked up over an infestation of Japanese Knotweed or Garlic Mustard (one ingenious way to deal with the former is to eat it! And to help you we’ve got a fantastic new cookbook called Wild Flavors…more on that in future posts!).

But what makes a species native to a place? Is it the soil structure or nutrients? Is it the typical weather pattern of a place? Does it thrive because of a certain ecological community that supports it (other plants and animals that are interdependent)? And what happens when some or all of these factors change, causing that formerly native creature to feel quite out of place?

These and other questions lead many permaculturists to doubt the rationale of favoring so-called native species over non-native ones that can thrive in what may end up being completely new conditions. What with climate change and development altering habitats, it’s hard to insist that only certain beings can live in a place, as if it were an exclusive club you need a membership card to access.

Author Martin Crawford is one such native plant skeptic. Watch this video to learn more about why, and check out his lovely book, Creating a Forest Garden for inspiration as to planting your own lush Eden (native or not)!


The Fallacy Of Native Plants – Martin Crawford by 5minKnowledge


Ask the Expert: Andrew Mefferd

Before writing The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture, Andrew Mefferd spent seven years in the research department at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, traveling around the world to consult with researchers and farmers on the best practices in greenhouse growing. Andrew has graciously agreed to offer up his expertise to our […] Read More

Top 10 favorite goat facts (with gifs)

New this month from author Gianaclis Caldwell, Holistic Goat Care is the essential resource on caring for your herd. Goats have provided humankind with essential products for centuries; indeed, they bear the noble distinction of being the first domesticated farm animal. From providing milk and meat for sustenance and fiber and hides for clothing and shelter […] Read More

New French edition of The Resilient Farm and Homestead available

Great news for French-speaking fans of Ben Falk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. The French language translation is now available from Imagine Un Colibri, from French booksellers, and on Amazon.fr. Falk’s book is a technical manual that details the strategies he and his team have developed for […] Read More

How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

Generosity as Activism, and Other Homesteading Principles to Live By

“Like everyone I know, we occasionally find ourselves faced with a decision to which there is no obvious answer,” says Ben Hewitt, coauthor of The Nourishing Homestead. “Do we borrow money to build a bigger barn, or do we keep getting by with what we have? Do we spend our meager savings on trees and […] Read More