Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review

This Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review provides information on Michael Judd’s book.  The book has eight chapters.  I outline each of the chapters below followed by my thoughts of the book as a whole.

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review

Introduction

The introduction chapter explains what edible landscaping is and why you would want it.  This chapter also explains what permaculture is and how to give edible landscaping a permaculture twist.

Herb Spiral, The Ultimate Raised Bed

An herb spiral as explained by Michael is like a snail shell coming out of the ground to create microclimates and provide lots of planting space in a small area.  This chapter explains what an herb spiral is, how to construct one and why you would want to construct one.  He even gives some examples of what someone may want to put in an herb spiral.

Rainwater Harvesting, Swales & Rain Gardens

In this chapter Michael explains some of the ways to harvest and conserve water.  He focuses on swales, which are a ditch on contour, to slow and stop the water to allow it to penetrate the land.  An explanation is given on how to make and calibrate an A-frame level, how to design and dig a swale, and some concepts for dealing with raised beds, such as mulching and planting into them.  The book also talks about rain gardens for capturing water and how to construct one and explains how to make a good soil mixture to put into the rain garden.

Fungi!! Growing Specialty Mushrooms

The fungi chapter covers several different ways of cultivating fungi and harvesting the fruit – the mushrooms.  He covers a good deal of safety in this chapter, as you have to be careful and not eat any old mushroom.  One of the best ways to be safe with mushrooms is to grow your own and this chapter gives you several ways to do this and several sources to order material from.

Food Forests

To quote Michael; “A Food Forest is a low maintenance gardening technique that mimics a woodland ecosystem but substitutes woodland species with edible trees, bushes, perennial vegetables, herbs, vines, and annuals.”  In this chapter he also touches on sheet mulching, companion planting, and guilds.

Uncommon Fruits

Here you will find some of the great forgotten fruits of our area as well as some not from our area.  The list includes persimmon, paw paw, hardy kiwi, mulberry, jujube, goumi, sea berry, gooseberry & currants, and cider apples.  He teaches us how to prune various fruit trees at different stages of a trees life cycle, how to graft, and how and when to paint a tree.

Hugelkultur, Mounds of Fertility

Hugelkultur is a mound of wood with soil on top.  The first year or two are not great to grow in, but after that there is added fertility and hydration in the soil available to plants.  Some mounds are built on top of the soil and some are sunken in the ground.

Earthen Ovens

Earthen ovens are better insulated than brick ovens allowing the heat to be used longer and more efficiently.  This chapter explains how to make one of these and gives very good detailed instructions along with a lot of pictures.  He even offers up a recipe for your first pizza!

My Thoughts

I met Michael at the Mid-Atlantic permaculture convergence in August where he was the key note speaker.  He was selling books there and I bought one.  I went on a business trip the next week and read this book cover to cover and immediately wanted to build an earthen oven, herb spiral, and get some mushroom logs going.

This book is probably not for the career permaculturist.  It is absolutely for someone who is just starting out in permaculture or any level of gardening.  He explains permaculture concepts and actually all concepts in a very easy to understand way and does not drown you with unfamiliar technology and terminology, but you do walk away having learned an immense amount of new information.

Available on Amazon

Purchase this book on Amazon.  As of this writing it is on sale at Amazon for just under $20.

The Video

Check out the video Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review below.

Thanks for visiting the Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review page.

Please give us your thoughts on Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist Book Review by commenting below.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition Book Review

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition Book Review

This post is a Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition Book Review. I spent the last week reading, digesting, and learning new concepts in this 280-page rainwater-harvesting manual. The book is written by author Brad Lancaster who not only wrote the book, but lived it and tells his story in chapter 5.

The Volumes

This post covers volume 1. I have volume 2 and will do another post on it in the near future. Volume 3 is due out in January of 2017 and I will purchase it and do a review on that volume after it is released.

Volume 1 is an introduction to water harvesting and lays the foundation on why you would want to harvest water and how to do it at a high level.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition

Volume 2 covers rainwater-harvesting earthworks. I am very anxious to dig into this volume.

Volume 3 covers roof catchment and cistern systems. Again, I’m anxious to check this volume out as I have put in several roof catchment systems and would like to see if there are any improvements I can do to my systems.

Introduction Chapter

The introduction chapter gives a good overview on why people would want to harvest rainwater and it delves into how much water we waste and how unsustainable our water practices are in the US.

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 lays the foundation for many of the practices covered throughout the rest of volume 1 and probably volume 2 and 3 as well. It talks about a trip that the author took to Africa and a man he met in Zimbabwe named Zephaniah Phiri Maseko. Mr. Phiri has a story of starting water harvesting in his African town and how he eventually was teaching his neighbors how to properly harvest water. This chapter goes over many concepts and lessons learned.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2 gets into figuring out where your watersheds are and helps you figure out how to make a site plan and map of your subject property. There are several useful equations in this chapter, like calculating rainfall volumes and runoff volumes. They also discuss the use of grey water. Here they also introduce the “One-Page Place Assessment” form, which helps you gather all of the as-is information you need on one page.

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 covers harvesting water with earthworks and tanks. I learned a great deal in this chapter on earthworks. Things like berm’n basin, French drain, and infiltration basin. They also show some of the ways to hook up grey water systems. There are well over a dozen different solutions in this chapter and it is a chapter I would recommend anyone interested in water harvesting should read.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 is titled Integrated Design and goes into other aspects of water harvesting like sun, wind, and site and building situation. They go into shade and shadows and how all of this helps with water harvesting.

Chapter 5

Chapter 5 covers the author’s experiences with water harvesting. It includes real life experiences on his first house, a real fixer-upper, and what he and his brother learned from this experience. This chapter kind of ties all of the earlier chapters together in a real world example.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition

Appendixes

Almost half of the book is an appendix. Appendix 1 covers patterns of water and sediment flow. Appendix 2 covers water-harvesting traditions in the desert southwest. Appendix 3 is a collection of water-harvesting calculations and is a great resource that I’m sure I’ll go back to many times over. Appendix 4 is a plant list and their water requirements, but the plants are desert plants, so probably wouldn’t apply most. Appendix 5 has a number of worksheets to help you put your design together.

Appendix 6 covers resources for furthering your education on water harvesting. Appendix 7 goes into sun angles and path and helps you figure out what you need to know for your site and how to get the information. Appendix 8 does the same for wind. Appendix 9 goes green on us, and talks about the true cost of water and water energy.

References

Throughout the book they have numbers near many different statements they make. These numbers correlate back to the references chapter and this shows where they got the information from and provides you with a source to delve deeper into a subject if you choose.

My Thoughts

I thought this book was awesome if for no other reason than just for chapter 3 and appendix 3. I enjoyed the rest of the book, but most of that information is covered at some level in a permaculture design course.

Chapter 3 goes into many different ways to harvest water that I had never even thought of. It covers many new concepts and I’m anxious to start planning out my next property and implementing these strategies.

Appendix 3 has quite a few calculations that would be very useful and I imagine would be hard to find. Now that I own the book, I know exactly where to go if I need to make a calculation dealing with water.

I would give this book a buy rating and I’m very happy that it is in my library now.

Buy it on Amazon

?Want to Help our Small Business Out?

Any time you are going to buy something from Amazon, please go through our site.  All you have to do is click the Amazon button on the menu bar at the top of every page on our web site.  That link will take you to Amazon and you then shop as you normally do.  It does NOT cost you one penny more!  Thank you very much for helping to support our small business!

The Video

Check out the Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition Book Review video below.

(video coming soon)

Thanks for viewing the Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition Book Review post.

Please give us your thoughts on Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition Book Review by commenting below.

Harvesting Water the Permaculture Way DVD Review

Harvesting Water the Permaculture Way DVD Review

Harvesting Water the Permaculture Way DVD Review provides you with an overview of this DVD and my opinion of the product.  I watched the video again last night and went through all of the bonus features and give my report below.

Harvesting Water the Permaculture Way DVD Review - Front

Harvesting Water the Permaculture Way DVD Review – Front

This DVD is narrated by Geoff Lawton and is about a water harvesting project he and his students worked on in Woolgoogla, Australia. The project site is 6 acres and the DVD shows the project from start to finish.  They start with the landowner explaining his desires and then move to Geoff and crew doing a survey of the land and using a laser level to mark the project.  Geoff explains the importance of the laser level and explains how to set it up and use it.  Geoff explains that the project will consist of a swale feeding a pond with the overflow of the pond going out another swale to a spillway.

In one area of the property Geoff points out that there was a fire at one point in time that changed the clay soil to terracotta and that this type of soil in this one particular area could not be used to hold water.  Fires were commonly used to clear land and brush and is the likely cause of the terracotta.

They then bring in the heavy equipment and begin digging.  They first moved the topsoil off to the side for later use.  Then they dug a hole where the dam wall was going to be so they could put in a keyway system.  Then they started building the dam wall followed by the swales and spillway.  Geoff explains why he does certain things which really helps you understand what is going on and why.  They also ran into several real world issues that they had to design around.

Extras – Earthworks Around the Globe

Harvesting Water the Permaculture Way DVD Review - Back

Harvesting Water the Permaculture Way DVD Review – Back

In this extras section Geoff shows pictures of different project that he has worked on throughout the globe.  He shows the picture, explains the problems, and then explains the solutions.  He discusses swales, ponds, dam & keyway, A-frame level, and a bamboo water wheel.

Extras – Interview with Geoff Lawton

This section is an interview with Geoff Lawton where he explains how he got into permaculture.  He actually grew up in England and later moved to Australia.  He took his PDC with Bill Mollison and was at first a skeptic.  He now leads the Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) and briefly describes the direction of the PRI.

Extras – Greening the Desert

Greening the Desert is one of the PRI’s biggest successes and is described here.  This project was done in Jordan near the Dead Sea, on salt flats that were 400M below sea level.

My Thoughts

This is a great video to pick up some of the details that you might not have fully understood in a PDC.  Every time I watch it I pick up something.  Now that it is free to watch online, I would have to recommend it as a must watch for anyone who ever wants to or will do any kind of earthworks for water harvesting.

The Video

I did a search for the DVD and found that it can be viewed online at: http://permaculturenews.org/2008/04/11/harvesting-water-dvd-released/

Thanks for viewing the Harvesting Water the Permaculture Way DVD Review post.

Give us your feedback on Harvesting Water the Permaculture Way DVD Review by commenting below.

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review

This is a review of the Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review. The DVD “Introduction to Permaculture Design” is written and presented by Geoff Lawton.  The DVD gives the viewer an 80-minute introduction to what it takes to design a permaculture solution and gives you a tour of a property that used this design and has been functioning for many years now.  Geoff explains that with all of the problems in the world today, permaculture design is a design system that give you a positive view of the future.

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Front

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Front

The Sections

Ethics

Geoff starts out explaining that permaculture is a movement of people that starts with ethics.  Three ethics to be exact; Earth Care, People Care, and Return of Surplus.  This surplus could be time, energy, information, and so on.  Permaculture leads to absolute abundance.  Permaculture is about science and ethics.

Concepts and Themes in Design

The next section on the DVD goes into concepts and themes in design.  Some of the topics covered in this section include sustainability – produces more energy than it consumes, follow the patterns and diversity in nature and the system will give us fertility followed by productivity.  Stacking systems through diversity and time is important – succession planting and the reparative nature of the systems.  Permaculture systems are about polyculture systems.  Finally, he goes into how we need to look at how nature works and improve on those functions.

Methods of Design

The section Methods of Design gets into elements, functions and cause and affect.  Every element supports multiple functions, and every function is supported by multiple elements.  Permaculture is about patterning of design.

Design through Observation

The section Design through Observation covers how to observe and interact.  If you observe a weed growing in the garden, it is telling you that the land needs that type of plant or that type of plant does well there.  Either way, if you can find a plant with the same requirements or benefits to the land, that is also beneficial to you, it should do good there as well.

Zone Planning

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review Back

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review Back

The Zone Planning section gets into zones 1 through 5 and other factors that affect zones.  Zone 1 is a zone that you are at all the time or needs your attention a lot.  Zone 2 is larger with less maintenance, all the way out to zone 5 which is the forest or wilderness – basically land that is untouched/unmaintained by humans and left to nature to tend to.  There are some other things that affect zone design, such as slop and orientation as well as the human element.

Sector Analysis

The Sector Analysis section covers how we observe different energy and how it affects the land.  Where the sun rises and sets, which direction the wind predominantly blows and if there are flood prone areas all come into play.  You will also take into account views, noise, dust, and potential frost pockets as well as other things.

A Walk in the Garden

At this point in the video he walks through a yard and points out the zones, sectors, and shows the many different types of edible plants.  As he is walking through he talks about how all the zones, sectors, functions, and elements all interact together.

Patterns

The next section is Patterns and he explains that all patterns are created by pressure between two medium – like wind blowing on the ocean and creating waves.  He explains to not recreate patterns, but let the patterns evolve and only use the patterns as a guide – not to be out right copied.

Climatic Factors

In the Climatic Factors section, he explains that there are 3 main climates. The 3 climates are the temperate climates that have cold wet winter and dry summer, the tropical climate that have a wet summer and dry winter, and the arid climate where evaporation is greater than the total rainfall.  There are also sub-climates and he gives several examples on the DVD.

Farm Forestry, Trees, and Soils

There is a section on Farm Forestry and a section on Trees.  There is a section on Soils, where he talks about feeding the soil not plants.  You feed the soil by making compost and getting soil biology correct with bacteria and fungi.  He also shows several compost piles and worm bins and explains how to use worm juice.

Earthworks

The next section covers Earthworks and Earth Resources.  He shows the building of a dam and a swale.  He makes a miniature spillway swale and dam and uses a hose to fill it up and show how it operates.

Strategies for an Alternative Global Nation

The last section he covers is Strategies for an Alternative Global Nation.

The Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD  is available from time to time at http://www.ecofilms.com.au/tag/geoff-lawton/, but is not available at the time of this writing.  Check that site often as it shows up for a month or so and then disappears for a few months.

Do You Like Us?  If So, Check Out The Link Below!

If you like this blog post and want to find out more about Great Escape Farms please go to https://greatescapefarms.com/ Also, sign up for our email list at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for visiting the Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review post.

Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD Review is a great DVD for someone who is learning permaculture and is a wonderful review for the permaculture enthusiast.

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review

This post, Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review, is about Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, by Lee Reich, and is a wonderful book that I have gone back to many times.  It gives details on many fruits that a permaculturist would call common place in their garden, but a layman will not have heard of 90% of the plants.

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review

Lee Reich is an avid gardener who previously worked at the US Department of Agriculture and Cornell University.  He now just writes, lectures, and consults about gardening.  His articles have been published in Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Martha Stewart Living, and The New York Times.

The list of fruit covered in the book includes; Juneberry, Beach Plum, Alpine and Musk Strawberries, Pawpaw, Raisin tree, Lingonberry, Actinidia, Mulberry, Kaki and American Persimmons, Elaeagnus, Gooseberry, Maypop, Che, Black Currant, Nanking Cherry, Cornelian Cherry, Red and White Currants, Asian Pear, Jostaberry, Lowbush Blueberry, Jujube, Shipova, and Medlar.

I currently have 18 of the above 26 plants and have either done a review already or will be doing a review on each of the plants I have.  I do not have the Beach Plum, Alpine and Musk Strawberries, Actinidia, Che, White Currant, Asian Pear, or Jostaberry.  I will be sure to close that gap by a lot in 2016, picking up many of the plants I do not have.

Each chapter offers an introduction of the plant followed by a description, cultivation, propagation, harvest and use, and cultivars sections.  After reviewing that chapter, you will most likely know all that you ever cared to about the plant and how to care for it.

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden Back

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden Back

I go back to this book on a regular basis.  I usually learn something each time I pick it up.  I have found that I tend to skim books and pick up only a small percentage of what is in it if I don’t have that plant.  Once I get a new species, I go back to the books and pick up a lot more on the next go round.  The reason this book comes up over and over for me is it is loaded with unique edible plants which is one of my passions.

If you are interested in Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden it can be ordered on Amazon by clicking on the link below.

Do You Like Us?  If So, Check Out The Link Below!

If you like this blog post and want to find out more about Great Escape Farms please go to https://greatescapefarms.com/ Also, sign up for our email list at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for visiting the Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review post.

Please give us your feedback on Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden book Review by commenting below.

The Harvest Eating Cookbook

The Harvest Eating Cookbook

The Harvest Eating Cookbook

The The Harvest Eating Cookbook by Chef Keith Snow is a great book with over 200 recipes in it.  What makes this cookbook different than most is that this book is geared toward using products that you harvest from your own back yard or purchase from local producers.  There are sections in the book that talk about the economics and health benefits of eating locally and a sourcing guide to help you find the freshest ingredients where you live.

The Harvest Eating Cookbook

The Harvest Eating Cookbook

Chef Snow was the host of the PBS series Harvest Eating with Chef Snow.  He has been a chef since the ‘70s and has held various culinary positions in California, Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Colorado.  He was the Executive Chef at Colorado’s Copper Mountain Resort before starting Harvest Eating .com in 2006.

Each recipe provides you with a prep time, cook time and ready time so you know ahead of time how long it will take.  Each recipe has comments from the chef, some of his thoughts of the recipe, others on what you will learn or need to know.  He then gives you the number of servings the recipe makes followed by the ingredients.  Next to the ingredients are the directions on how to make the recipe.  Many of the recipes have color pictures so you can see what the finished recipe looks like.

If you are into organic and local eating, this is the cookbook for you.  I found the book on Amazon for just over $7.00  You can purchase the book at Amazon at the link below.

Chef Keith Snow also has a blog post, podcast and many other resources on his website.  He also sells seasonings on his web site.  I have not bought any myself but did try some when I was at a weekend training session last year.  The rubs and sauces that I tried were great.  His website is at HarvestEating.com.

Do You Like Us?  If So, Check Out The Link Below!

If you like this blog post and want to find out more about Great Escape Farms please go to https://greatescapefarms.com/ Also, sign up for our email list at the bottom of the page.

Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture Book Review

Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture Book Review

Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture Book Review

This post is Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture book review. From front to back this book is 232 pages and consists of 6 chapters, each with many sub chapters. The book covers his farming practices, experiments, experiences and some mistakes all on his own farm.  A picture of his book is shown in the picture titled “Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture Book”.

Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture Book Review

Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture Book Review

Sepp’s farm, called the Krameterhof, consists of 100 acres on a mountainside surrounded by a monoculture of spruce trees. The Krameterhof has terraces, raised beds, ponds, fruit trees and many other features that are quite different than the surrounding landscape in Austria.

The chapters in this book include Landscape Design, Alternative Agriculture, Fruit Trees, Cultivating Mushrooms, Gardens, and Projects.

Landscape Design

In Landscape Design, he talks about his childhood and what got him started in this line of work as well as mistakes he made along the way. He talks about permaculture and how to set up a permaculture system and ventures into microclimates, how to build a terrace, raised beds, and waterscapes.

Alternative Agriculture

In Alternative Agriculture he gets into soil fertility, green manures, plant diversity and polyculture. He talks about alternative ways to keep livestock to include pigs and poultry.

Fruit Trees

In Fruit Trees he goes into the wrong way of doing things and then his way of doing things. He gets into fruit varieties, propagation and grafting, how to grow a fruit forest, and how to process, market, and sell what you grow.

Cultivating Mushrooms

In Cultivating Mushrooms he goes into the health benefits of mushrooms, the basics of how to cultivate mushrooms, and how to grow them in wood and straw. He also goes into cultivating wild mushrooms.

Gardens

In Gardens, topics such as kitchen gardens, medicinal gardens and vegetable patches are discussed. He talks about natural fertilizers, helpers and pests in gardens and characteristics of town gardens. In this chapter he has tables of companion plants as well as a table of medicinal plants.

Projects

In his Projects chapter he talks about projects he has worked on including those in Scotland and Thailand. This chapter gives a lot of pictures and describes what they did on these projects. I have always found it easier to learn by looking at what others have done than looking at words alone. This is a great chapter for those that learn through what others have done.

The Book

This book has a cover price of $29.95 and is a good read. Unfortunately, this is one of the first books I read and some of the concepts were beyond my interests at the time. Now that I have a great deal more education and a PDC under my belt, I will thoroughly read it again from cover to cover. For the purpose of this review I only skimmed through the book and I see all kinds of things I missed or wasn’t interested in first time around. With that said, I would recommend some basic understanding of permaculture principles prior to reading this book. It would make this book a much better read and you will retain a great deal more.

Do You Like Us?  If So, Check Out The Link Below!

If you like this blog post and want to find out more about Great Escape Farms please go to https://greatescapefarms.com/ Also, sign up for our email list at the bottom of the page.

Please provide us with your feedback on Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture Book Review by commenting below.

 

Gaia’s Garden Book Review and Description of Topics

Gaia’s Garden Book Review and Description of Topics

Gaia’s Garden Book Review

This post is a Gaia’s Garden Book Review.  It covers a little bit of what this book is about and my impression of the book and how it relates to gardening and permaculture.

Gaia’s Garden is a book written by Toby Hemenway and is one of my favorite gardening books.  The book is written around permaculture and delves into several topics like; building and maintaining soil fertility and structure, catching and conserving water in the landscape, providing habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and animals, and growing an edible “forest” that yields seasonal fruits, nuts, and other foods.  He also includes a chapter about urban permaculture for people with limited growing space.

He starts the book out explaining what permaculture is and what natural gardening is and why you would want to do this.  He then goes into several key concepts to include soil building, annual vs perennial, plant communities, stacking functions and more.

Toby then goes into different designs and talks about patterns and keyhole design, herb spirals, branch and net patterns and mixing the many patterns together.  He does a wonderful job of describing the zones and sectors.

Gaia’s Garden Book Review

Gaia’s Garden Book Review

He goes into soil building and humus as well as how to make compost.  He includes a good table that describes the carbon to nitrogen ratio and how the different materials in compost play into this.  He goes into till vs. no till and hugelkultur, sheet mulch, and cover crops.  He has a very nice table on different plants to use as a cover crop.

He gets into water conservation and water needs of plants.  He describes a swale, mulching, grey water, and other water catchment techniques.  He gets into different plants and function stacking of plants.  He specifically gives details on some of my favorite plants to include: goumi, maypop, and comfrey.  He includes a table that gives details on plants that are dynamic accumulators, nitrogen fixers, and nurse plants.

He goes into many of the beneficial bugs that we have already covered in the blog posts and some that we will cover in future posts.  He also talks about how to attract these beneficials.  He gets into polyculture, and one of my favorite subjects… Plant guilds.  Plant guilds is where he ties most of the rest of the book together and with this one concept changes any garden or planting for the better.

He has tables in the appendix that gives information on plants that you can use for you garden. The tables are broken up into; tall trees, small trees, shrubs and small trees, herb layer, and vines and climbing plants.  Each table gives you the common name, botanical name, USDA hardiness zone, light requirements, edible parts or use of the plant, animal use, other uses, and comments.  If you get hung up on what plants to put in a garden area, these tables are a great place to get ideas.

As I write this review and look back through this book again, I want to read it again from cover to cover.  This is one of my go to reference books for plant guilds, but there are so many other concepts in this book that I could really pull it from the book shelf once a week and reference parts of the book.

Gaia’s Garden is a fun read that is difficult to put down.  It is not like some other books that are good reference manuals, but bore you to sleep if you try to read it from cover to cover.  This is a book I can see myself reading cover to cover many times over.  I read it all the way through this past summer and now think it is time to read it again.  Maybe over the holidays.

The book can be purchased on Amazon at the link below:

Do You Like Us?  If So, Check Out The Link Below!

If you like this blog post and want to find out more about Great Escape Farms please go to https://greatescapefarms.com/ Also, sign up for our email list at the bottom of the page.

Please give us your thoughts on Gaia’s Garden Book Review by leaving a comment below.

Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

This post is titled Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review. Wednesday night I watched the DVD “Establishing a Food Forest” which was presented by Geoff Lawton.  This is at least the third time I have watched this 80-minute DVD and every time I watch it I still pick up something new.

Food Forest Definition

Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

Before I get into the review of the DVD, lets define Food Forest.  On Wikipedia, the term Food Forest re-directs to Forest Gardening.  Here is Wikipedia’s definition of Forest Gardening:

“Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. Making use of companion planting, these can be intermixed to grow in a succession of layers, to build a woodland habitat.”

DVD Overview

The DVD starts out with classroom lecture going over what a food forest is and how to design one.  They go into looking at patterns of existing forests and the layers of a forest.  The layers as described by Geoff are; canopy, understory, shrub, herbaceous, ground cover, vine/climbers, and root yield.  He does go into a few additional layers that are specific to the tropics.

Many of these layers are support species planted for the future end results.  He talks about support species as follows:

  • Ground cover – hundreds of thousands of nitrogen fixers per acre that will only survive for 6 months. This could be clover or other nitrogen fixing ground cover.
  • Herbaceous / bush layer – tens of thousands of nitrogen fixers per acre that will only survive for 4 to 5 years. Examples are certain legumes and peas.
  • Understory layer – thousands of small trees that fix nitrogen that will survive 10 to 15 years.
  • Canopy – hundreds of trees that will go full term.
  • The above are all support species used just to fix the soil with nitrogen and other nutrients and provide mulch through chop and drop. Mixed in with all of the above will be our fruit and nut trees.
  • In the beginning the mix will be 90/10. 90% of mass is support species and 10% is our fruit trees.  As time goes on we end up with 10% of mass is support species and 90% is our fruit trees.  This happens as the fruit trees get larger and the support species die out.
  • The support species is coppiced, pollarded, and chop & dropped. This happens during the wet season, which is when there is more rainfall than evaporation.
Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review

After the classroom portion of the DVD, Geoff goes to the field and plants a food forest into a swale at the Permaculture Research Institute (PRI).  He demonstrates mixing a nitrogen fixing inoculant with some legumes (cowpea and lupin).  He shows a large variety of plants that they are putting in, how to put them in and why.

He then goes back to that same swale after 3 months and gives you a tour, shows the progress and explains what is going on.  He talks about too many grass hoppers not being a grass hopper problem but a deficiency in Turkeys.  He talks about too many slugs/snails not being a slug/snail issue but a deficiency in ducks.  He also demonstrates “feed the forest” by doing some chop and drop.

He shows fungus being the “teeth” of the forest and explains how the fungus is breaking down the dead plant life to feed the living.  He shows how chickens help establish a food forest and also explains how a food forest is low maintenance once established.

He shows a kitchen garden that has over 400 species of plants in it.  He goes on to explain how all of the diversity confuses the pest and how they make climates attractive to predator insects to predate on those confused pests.

My thoughts on this DVD are that it is a wonderful learning resource and I wouldn’t understand why anyone that likes gardening doesn’t want to put in a food forest after watching this DVD.  It is also one of the reasons I put a food forest in last year and will put more in going forward.  It is a wonderful concept and I enjoy the thought of high yield and low maintenance in the future.

Extras

In addition to the 80-minute main feature, there are five clips in the bonus section of the DVD:

  • 30-Year-Old Food Forest – 10-minute video walk through of a 30-year-old food forest in Thailand. Most of the plants in this clip are tropical and likely wouldn’t grow in temperate climate North America.
  • 300-Year-Old Food Forest – a 6-minute video walk through of a 300-year-old food forest in Hanoi.
  • 2000-Year-Old Food Forest – a 4+ minute video walk through of a 2000-year-old food forest in Morocco. This video has many fruits that do grow in North America.
  • Permaculture World Wide – a 4+ minute video about how to grow permaculture plants world wide and how to raise funds to do so.
  • Harvesting Water DVD – This is the trailer for another of Geoff’s videos “Harvesting Water DVD”

About Geoff:

According to Wikipedia: “Geoff Lawton is a permaculture consultant, designer and teacher. Since 1995 he has specialized in permaculture education, design, implementation, system establishment, administration and community development.”

He is Managing Director of The Permaculture Research Institute – www.permaculturenews.org. and is the go-to practicing expert on anything permaculture.

 

To Buy the DVD:

A downloadable copy of the DVD can be bought at:

permaculturenews.org/product-category/digital-downloads/

 

The physical DVD can be bought at:

www.ecofilms.com.au/store/

Do You Like Us?  If So, Check Out The Link Below!

If you like this blog post and want to find out more about Great Escape Farms please go to https://greatescapefarms.com/ Also, sign up for our email list at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for reading our post, Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review.

Please provide feedback to Establishing a Food Forest DVD Review by commenting below.

Permaculture A Designers’ Manual Review Chapter 3

Permaculture A Designers’ Manual Review Chapter 3

Permaculture A Designers’ Manual Review Chapter 3

This post covers Permaculture A Designers’ Manual Review Chapter 3.  This is the third in a series of 14 chapter reviews on “Permaculture – A designers’ manual”.  This review covers chapter three which is titled “Methods of Design”.  This chapter really digs into the meat of a permaculture design and covers a lot of design aspects that must be considered when doing a permaculture design.

Permaculture A Designers' Manual Review Chapter 3 - PDCManual

Permaculture A Designers’ Manual Review Chapter 3

Chapter 3 starts off with a Definition of Permaculture Design: “Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms.  It seeks to provide a sustainable and secure place for living things on this earth.”

Another principle covered is the Principle of Self-Regulation: “The purpose of a functional and self-regulating design is to place elements or components in such a way that each serves the needs, and accepts the products, of other elements.”

Functional Design: “Every component of a design should function in many ways.  Every essential function should be supported by many components.”  This is often referred to as function stacking.

This chapter goes into some of the design methods as follows:

  • Analysis: Design by listing the characteristic of components.
  • Observation: Design by expanding on direct observation of a site.
  • Deduction from Nature: Design by adopting the lessons learnt from nature.
  • Options and Decisions: Design as a selection of options or pathways based on decisions.
  • Data Overlay: Design by map overlays.
  • Random Assembly: Design by assessing the results of random assemblies.
  • Flow Diagrams: Design for workplaces.
  • Zone and Sector Analysis: Design by the application of a master pattern.
    • Zone 0 – Inside the house
    • Zone 1 – Components needing continual observation and work or frequent visits. This would include areas where animals are kept, annual and herb gardens, and rain catchment.
    • Zone 2 – Less intensive observation and work and less frequent visits. This would include ponds, trellises, hedges, and orchards
    • Zone 3 – Contains natural or little pruned trees, barns, and hedge rows.
    • Zone 4 – This area contains very hardy perennials and trees that do not get pruned.
    • Zone 5 – Natural, unmanaged environment. Used for observation and recreation.
  • Sectors Analysis deals with what Bill calls “wild energies” which include the “elements” of sun, light, wind, rain, wildfire, and water flow.

Plant Guilds deal with polyculture.  Polyculture is a group of multiple plant species instead of hundreds of acres of a single species (monoculture).  With plant guilds you plan plant placement (say that 3 times fast) so the different species help each other out.  Guilds also often include animals.

He also covers succession and the evolution of a system as well as the establishment and maintenance of systems.

Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual (Amazon Link) is the go to book for permaculture design.

If you like this blog post and want to find out more about Great Escape Farms please go to https://greatescapefarms.com/ Also, please sign up for our email list at the bottom of the linked page.

Pleae provide feedback for Permaculture A Designers’ Manual Review Chapter 3 by commenting below.