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Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition Paperback – April, 2009

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Frequently Bought Together

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition + Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening + The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming (New York Review Books Classics)
Price for all three: $48.99

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 2nd edition (April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603580298
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603580298
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (257 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Become a sustainable producer of resources instead of a wasteful consumer. This wonderful book shows you how by helping you create and enhance beautiful backyard ecosystems within the garden. Put this book into action, and you'll begin to live an example that positively shifts your own community and beyond. Best of all, doing so with this book is simple, juicy, and fun."--Brad Lancaster, author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond and

"Toby's fun, well-grounded, and engaging book is fast becoming a classic, and deservedly so. Practical yet visionary, broad-ranging yet focused on the basics one needs to know, this is a great place to start on the permaculture path. The new edition builds solidly on the success of the first. Congratulations!"--Dave Jacke, co-author of the two-volume Edible Forest Gardens

"The world didn't come with an operating manual, so it's a good thing that some wise people have from time to time written them. Gaia's Garden is one of the more important, a book that will be absolutely necessary in the world ahead."--Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and Hope, Human and Wild

"Permaculture gardens are no longer a thing of the future. They are here to stay and flourish. Gaia's Garden is enlightening and required reading for all people who desire to make their home's landscape healthy, sustainable, and healing."--Robert Kourik, author of Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape--Naturally

"Gaia's Garden is simply the best permaculture book ever written, and is in the running for best gardening book ever written. No one should be without it."--Sharon Astyk, author of Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front

"Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden will be recorded in history as a milestone for gardeners and landscapers--a fusion of the practical and the visionary--using the natural intelligence of Earth's symbiotic communities to strengthen and sustain ecosystems in which humans are a partner, not a competitor. An amazing achievement showing how we can and must live in harmony with nature!"--Paul Stamets, author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

About the Author

Toby Hemenway is the author of the first major North American book on permaculture, Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. After obtaining a degree in biology from Tufts University, Toby worked for many years as a researcher in genetics and immunology, first in academic laboratories at Harvard and the University of Washington in Seattle, and then at Immunex, a major medical biotech company. At about the time he was growing dissatisfied with the direction biotechnology was taking, he discovered permaculture, a design approach based on ecological principles that creates sustainable landscapes, homes, and workplaces. A career change followed, and Toby and his wife spent ten years creating a rural permaculture site in southern Oregon. He was associate editor of Permaculture Activist, a journal of ecological design and sustainable culture, from 1999 to 2004. He teaches permaculture and consults and lectures on ecological design throughout the country. His writing has appeared in magazines such as Whole Earth Review, Natural Home, and Kitchen Gardener. He is available for workshops, lectures, and consulting in ecological design.

He lives in Sebastopol, California.

Visit his web site at

Customer Reviews

This book is an excellent introduction to permaculture.
Tessa K
I do a lot of reading on this subject and find this book is much better than other books in detailing permaculture concepts.
It is very well written in a style that is easy to read and understand.
Christian Remington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

248 of 250 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
What I really love about this book is how much Mr. Hemenway goes into the *reasons* that these methods work. Call me obsessive, but I like authors to provide a good reason their techniques work and not just say "OMG, look at this harvest, just do exactly what I do!" Mr. Hememway gives us beautiful, well-though out tables of different nutrients certain plants accumulate, what kinds of bugs they attract, plants that can tolerate drought or provide mulch on the spot, plants that have "spiky" roots that break up tough top-soil and plants that can provide structure or shade to other plants. It's about using the attributes of different vegetation to do the work for you in a way that doesn't adversely impact the land. Armed with this information, you can create your own "guilds" and areas of companion plants that work best for your location. Outside of a textbook, this is the most complete information on gardening I have ever come across. The author even presents the downsides of the methods in, what I feel, is a very even-handed manner. No one style fits every need and Mr. Hemenway addresses that. This is my favorite gardening book, period.
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185 of 192 people found the following review helpful By Paul Wheaton on January 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have read nearly every permaculture book written, and I have visited with thousands of people about permaculture. I have to say that this is the book I recommend the most often, but it is also the book I quote the most.

If a person is going to get just one permaculture book, this is the book to get.
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87 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Kara M. Morgan on February 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I knew literally nothing about Permaculture gardening when I bought this book - my mother mentioned it to me and said to check it out, so I came to Amazon where the description intrigued forward 3 weeks later and my front water guzzling lawn has now been sheet mulched in preparation for a wonderful, sustainable, garden, and I have 5 baby chickens being delivered next week!

I'm not kidding when I say that this book was transformational in my views on gardening - I live in the city with very limited space, and our lawn was the best in the neighborhood. I have a raised bed for a garden in the back, and did produce some good veggies, but not near enough to eliminate buying any items at the grocery store. My first 10 minutes with this book I learned what I was doing wrong in my raised bed - and as I dug deeper it was one "Aha!" moment followed by another. I am a scientist, and I can't believe none of this had ever occurred to me!

The book is very in depth and gives wonderful examples with specific plants (not just general concepts) - the only thing I would have liked to see more of was pictures of actual permaculture gardens. I'm a very visual person and like to have something to imitate when designing my own project, so I'm still searching for design examples to incorporate (once again with specific plants).

Just know that if you get this book you're going to be inspired to make some drastic changes in your landscape - as evidenced by my "Bomb Proof Sheet Mulched" lawn - the recipe in the book for this was extremely helpful! I will admit that my first initial thought upon opening the book was - oh no, this is too in depth and not being a professional gardener, I'm never going to understand - trust me when I say, pick a chapter that sounds interesting to you and start there - that is what I did, and it migrated to many of the other chapters and just kept going!
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99 of 104 people found the following review helpful By subeterranean on July 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a wealth of information. It teaches how to design and grow a home garden using permaculture and ecological gardening techniques. These techniques are designed to minimize input regarding fertilizers, pesticides and time, by imitating nature. Nature shows us that many different species of plants perform better together than one species. In permaculture each plant has more than one purpose. Not only will the plant provide food, but it may also shade another plant or attract beneficial insects. In Gaia's Garden you'll learn how to implement these ideas to create your own sustainable food forest.
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291 of 320 people found the following review helpful By Quo Primum on June 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to agree with other reveiwers that this is a readble, approachable book. It has excellent charts, graphs and visuals, and covers the concepts of permaculture in much less space then Bill Mollison's permaculture guide, which is currently running over a hundred dollars, so for these purposes, this is a decent book.

That said, I decided to try his advice out in my own garden, and here is what I am experiencing thus far. For background, I am an experienced gardener of 25+years, who has spent the last ten or so years transitioning over to the organic and sustainable approach.

Last year my 80x30 garden and two hoop houses were entirely planted in rows - monoculture. Upon reading Toby's advice, I have planted all of them this year with broader raised beds, with "key hole" type paths to reduce the traffic and compaction areas. The improvement has been from 50% to now being at least 70% plantable space. Very good.

I also did the multiple layer mulching that he details, and followed his instructions very closely. Here is were the garden encountered some very real problems. Toby suggested that the mix of seeds be directly sown - scattered more like - into this top layer of mulch. What I am discovering is that the germination and survival rate for the seedlings is abyssmal due to the high acidity of the mulch. What I found is that if I start the seedlings separately, and then plant them deeply enough to enjoy the compost layer, the plants do well. If however, they were direct sown seeds that have not penetrated through the mulch layer, they are struggling for nutrients, remaining stunted with pale color.
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More About the Author

Toby Hemenway is the author of Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, which for the past six years has been the world's best-selling book on permaculture, a design approach based on ecology for creating sustainable landscapes, homes, communities, and workplaces. He has been an adjunct professor in the School of Graduate Education at Portland State University, Scholar-in-Residence at Pacific University, and a biologist consultant for the Biomimicry Guild. He teaches, consults, and lectures on permaculture and ecological design throughout the US and other countries. His writing has appeared in magazines such as Natural Home, Whole Earth Review, and American Gardener. He lives in Sebastopol, California, where he is developing sites and resources for urban and small-town sustainability.