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Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition Paperback – April, 2009
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From the Publisher
"[A] wonderful, nature-embracing, and completely sensible vision of the future."
|Keyhole Garden Beds||A keyhole bed planted with cabbages, tomatoes, and pathside greens and herbs in a space 8 to 10 feet in diameter.||Several keyhole beds can extend from a central path to create a garden with pleasing curves and plenty of accessible bed space.||A mandala garden. A circular pattern of nested keyhole beds is both beautiful and space-conserving.|
"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 http://www.HarvestingRainwater.com
"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 was the author of the first major North American book on permaculture, Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, as well as The Permaculture City. 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 taught permaculture and consulted and lectured on ecological design throughout the country, and his writing appeared in magazines such as Whole Earth Review, Natural Home, and Kitchen Gardener. Toby passed away in 2016.
Visit his web site at www.patternliteracy.com
Top customer reviews
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Since reading this book, I have a more holistic view of my yard. I can see I've already made some mistakes in my yard, but it is exciting to begin to see results already. Instead of following the usual route of planting rows of veggies, I've started working on symbiotic blends of nitrogen fixers, vines, and other roles.
Today I picked up a cheap bird feeder and post from a hardware store and put up a quick bird feeder over a dry, weedy patch in the back. I look forward to seeing how well the author's claim that doing this will lead to passive, ongoing returns in the form of birds' fertilizing the barren area with their poop and their weeding the area as some scratch around the ground looking for fallen seeds.
His urban ideas are incredible, too. Don't miss out on that chapter, even though it's tucked in just before the end. He has a few pages devoted to what you can do with the "hell strip" between the road and sidewalk (usually just used for a mailbox and cable tv lines).
Don't skip the observation step he gives in an incredible several pages and sidebar. While we did some of this work, I wish we'd done even more extensive up-front observation. It turned out we had to overhaul our plans once the people came out and marked the utility lines. They weren't where we thought they were originally. But I'm so glad this book showed us how to find out these things early on. It would be a shame to plant an expensive tree and pour water and resources into it only to have it uprooted later on.
If there is one reason to buy this book, it's because it will shift your perspective away from seeing gardening as a chore with unending maintenance. Instead, by working with nature instead of against it, problems can become signals, temporary obstacles, or just part of the normal flow. The book is pragmatic, realistic, backed with science and research, and a lot of fun. Get it, read it, and try it out.
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!
Why mimic nature? according to Hemenyway, the need for fertilizers, pesticides, tilling, weeding and watering can be greatly reduced or eliminated, while transforming one's yard into a potential source of fruit, veggies, medicinals, crafts, wildlife habitat and income.
The book draws heavily on permaculture, Bill Mollison's ecological design methodology, only Hemenway explains it in a much more user-friendly and enjoyable way than Bill's Designers Manual. For instance, he clearly and concisely explains the different roles of a plant within a plant community, such as fixing nitrogen, producing mulch, attracting beneficial insects, repelling harmful insects, accumulating deep-down nutrients, etc. Then he suggests multiple species for each function, conveniently laid out in charts.
I found the explanations of natural processes very enlightening, and the species charts very useful. I'd recommend this book to the laymen of ecology or anyone interested in gardening or organic food.