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Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale…

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture (2001)

by Toby Hemenway

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Gaia's Garden is a basic introduction to permaculture, focusing on food forests. The author goes over basics like "what is permaculture", natural soil building, and pest control, before giving over the bulk of the book to garden design. There are a series of very good lists and appendices for individuals looking to get started on their own, and the page layout is also well done -- not to cluttered but not too sparse.

I give the author massive kudos for giving examples from places like Houston instead of just California, the Pacific Northwest, and New England. However readers in Texas/the South/similar places will probably want to look for supplemental plant lists and advice from someone practicing permaculture in their region, who will have more knowledge about what works than the author (who's based in Portland, OR).

Still, for those looking to get their feet wet and begin a sustainable gardening adventure, Gaia's Garden is a great place to start. It already has me planning an herb spiral. Definitely recommended. ( )
  inge87 | Jun 29, 2013 |
This is the "perfect" gardening book. The author's premise is that gardens should be an extension of nature, and serve nature, not just some "beds" genetically created to cover space. There are templates given for different types of gardens with species specific reccomendations. ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Dec 29, 2011 |
I was told repeatedly that if I could only own one permaculture book, this should be it. Inheriting my copy from a permy friend who upgraded to the next edition, I have to agree with those who said it. This is THE home scale permaculture 101. If you have any interest in learning about- or trying out- permaculture in your backyard, get this book. I tried borrowing it from the library, but they kept making me give it back. ;P I'm thrilled to have my own copy to refer to again and again, both on long winter days of planning and in those moments with dirt under my nails and a question I need an answer to Right Now. a bit of everything, and everything you need to find more, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If there were more stars, I'd give them all to it. ( )
  haiku.tx | Feb 24, 2011 |
Imagine creating a beautiful landscape that provides food, sanctuary for animals and practically takes care of itself. In the book "Gaia's Garden," Toby Hemenway promises that all of these things are possible. Permaculture aims to use nature's rhythms by understanding and using the relationships between different types of plants and ecosystems. In particular, he focuses on building healthy soil and the myriad of benefits it provides.

This well-written books is a great introduction to the topic and is packed full of information. Hemenway covers different types of plants, how to harvest and conserve rainwater, beneficial insects and animals and other topics. The books is only a few hundred pages, and other sources are referenced for more detailed information. Even gardeners looking for a more standard approach will find useful information. ( )
  KbookB | Nov 12, 2010 |
Essential reading for people interested in sustainable gardening. Although most of us do not have the open space to implement many of permaculture designs he details, Hemenway offers lucid explanations of soil ecology, plant communities and more. I question his blithe attitude toward invasive plants and dismissal of natives, but otherwise recommend this book. ( )
1 vote isetziol | Dec 2, 2009 |
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Picture your backyard as a lush garden, filled with edible flowers, bursting with fruit and berries, and carpeted with scented herbs and tangy salad greens. The flowers nurture endangered pollinators. Bright-featured songbirds feed on abundant berries and gather twigs for their nests. The plants themselves are grouped in natural communities, where each species plays a role in building soil, deterring pests, storing nutrients, and luring beneficial insects. And finally, you are an integral part of the scene. Your garden tools have a slight patina of rust, because this garden requires so little maintenance. This is an ecological garden, which takes the principles of permaculture and applies them on a home scale. Key features of permaculture include: use of compatible perennials; non-invasive planting techniques; emphasis on biodiversity; specifically adaptable to local climate, landscape, and soil conditions; highly productive output of edibles.--From publisher description.… (more)

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