The book promises to teach readers "how to have your yard and eat it too," and it does that and a lot more.
Sections of the book include topics such as:
- Herb Spiral: The ultimate raised bed
- Rainwater Harvesting: Swales and Rain Gardens
- Fungii!! Growing Specialty Mushrooms
- Food Forests
- Uncommon Fruits
- Hugelkultur, Mounds of Fertility
- Earthen Ovens
- Botany & Booze
Judd teaches how to use permaculture practices in order to turn any yard or garden into a sustainable, healthy environment that needs far less water and work in order to create better results.
For instance, an herb spiral (a raised bed spiral garden built of stones with varying heights) creates multiple micro-climates. The design saves space, provides perennial habitats for beneficial insects and animals, saves water, and looks gorgeous. Zones of the spiral get more or less water and sunlight, allowing you to plant herbs in spaces that suit them well -- Mediterranean herbs at the dry and sunny top, delicate herbs at the protected east where they'll get morning sun, sun-lovers on the southwest, shade/moisture loving plants on the low north, and even a space for a small frog pond!
Judd is clearly an expert at what he teaches, but he also writes in a fun, engaging way that makes the book even more of a pleasure to read. For instance, the very first page of the introduction promises that edible landscaping is the new American garden because: "It cross-pollinates a desire for tasty food with nostalgia, greater food security, and a need to stop mowing so damn much."
Later on that same page of the introduction, Judd says:
"It's a book to be carried out into the landscape, propped open with a rock, dog-eared, penciled in, smudged with dirty fingers, and pelted by the occasional rain.
So don't you dare leave it on the coffee table. It's going to help you carve your little piece of suburbia into something luscious and productive."
Most of the projects are labor-intensive at first, though they can be easily adapted to smaller scales and are mapped out in step-by-step detail. The basic plan is to create a landscape that will do the work for you, year after year. By creating areas such as rounded swales that capture rainwater in flowing regions, for instance, you create beautiful garden areas that do most of the work of watering for you after they are installed.
The permaculture ideas in the book are brilliant in their simplicity and common sense. After seeing the beautiful rain garden designs (described as upside down baseball mitts that become water-sinking depressions), you'll wonder why everybody doesn't use that sort of practical garden planning to direct rainwater into the garden. Some of Judd's rain garden designs even involve tiers with rock drain borders connecting each one as they flow down a slope, so homeowners can direct excess rain through the series of gardens as the water runs off (see the slide show to view some illustrations of how this is done).
Judd also uses his knowledge to teach how to make an income with these principles. He teaches how to grow your own exotic mushrooms and brew your own alcoholic beverages with excess fruit, for instance, to sell at farmers' markets and other outlets.
This is an excellent resource for homesteaders and homeowners to learn how to create beautiful, productive gardens that are in harmony with nature in order to save water, money, time and energy. They're good for our earth, our eyes and our bodies.
Edible Landscaping With a Permaculture Twist is published by Chelsea Green Publishing and retails for $24.95. It can be purchased at sites such as Amazon or signed from the author for $25 (which includes shipping and taxes). You can learn more about the author and many of the amazing projects of the book at his web site, Ecologia Design.
Permaculture is key to creating a more sustainable planet, and this book does a beautiful job of getting you started. I highly recommend it.
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