A new forest gardening book is just getting published:
Creating a Forest Garden by Martin Crawford (Working with nature to grow edible crops.) Green Books, April 29th 2010. ISBN 978-1-900322-62-1. 380 pages (hardback). The long-awaited definitive book on forest gardening. Martin takes you step by step through the process of designing, implementing and maintaining a forest garden. Trees, shrubs, perennials, short-lived plants and fungi can all be integrated into one system and this book tells you how to do it. Includes descriptions of many uncommon edible plants suitable for temperate climates. If you want one book on forest gardening then this is the one to get! "A seminal piece of work on truly sustainable gardening, written with great spirit and soul" - Alys Fowler.
I have Martin's DVD on forest gardens, and it's very good. But "The long-awaited definitive book on forest gardening" was published 4 years ago by Dave Jacke: the 2-volume "Edible Forest Gardens," which is masterful, comprehensive, and massive. It has everything this review says Martin's has, plus 200 pages on the design process. I'm eager to see Martin's book, but it's going to have to be pretty amazing to equal Dave's. I hope it is, because it would be wonderful to have 2 great books on forest gardens.
Thanks for the input Toby, I wasn't aware that you hung out here.
FYI, i posted that info here because it was likely a place to get the word out in the NW, most other sites already are up on Martin's work. And Dave's too for that matter.
On a side note, Dave was touring USA in the late 90's and early 2k's researching his book... and stopped by a place where I was fooling around with some orchards. I wasn't there at the time, so didn't have a chance to meet him. I wish I had.
After Dave left my place, I was debriefed by the hostess that had greeted him at the time - he mentioned that he was a bit concerned because in his travels for his book, he'd only found 5 intentionally designed and built existing examples of decent FG's in the USA. And that two of them were there at my place...!!! Like I said, I wish I was there when he showed up. We would have had a ball hashing out how it can be done on a low to no time and money budget and still get done while having a ball... I am sure that his hostess hadn't mentioned that I spent my youth playing, hanging out, and drinking in the backyard forest gardens of the rural farmers in the Alsatian region of France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Doing a few of my own was a life long dream of mine. I had NO idea about 'forest gardening' or permaculture at the time... just the gardens of my youth - full of food - the trees, the vines, the bushes and all that vegetation. My work with the first of those two gardens in Colorado actually led to someone coming to me and asking if I'd ever heard of 'permaculture' ... and of course that led to the second 'real' forest garden getting built, only that time very much intentionally.
On another note, I remember writing Dave Jacke an email in 1994 thanking him for providing me another inspirational moment in 1993. I'd just seen a picture of a waterless toilet design of his... It led to my developing the Sunny John Moldering Toilet, one of the few waterless off grid DIY toilets that some western counties are now permitting. The Key? - two barrel vessels in a vault privy, only one being used at a time. Once the 'light went on upstairs' on that minor idea, the whole idea of a perfectly odorless, off-grid moldering, dehydrating and vermiculturally supported toilet solution grew to become the first 'Sunny John' when my good friend of Econest fame showed up in 1993. Robert Laporte and I sketched out the 1st Sunny John design in the dirt on site and had it up and running in a few weeks. He was the one who, one day while I was smiling next to the finished project, exclaimed, "Hey, look! It's a Sunny John!" ...
I have a "sunny john" too. But it was designed and built by Bob Crosby of Biorealis Systems up here in Alaska. Check out his directions at: http://biorealis.com/composter/ Yours sounds similar, but we have 3 barrels on a turn table. I'm reluctant to use the procedes from the toilet on anything but flowers so far.
Hart's "Forest Gardening" is a wonderful memoir but it's not much of a how-to book; very few readers of it that I know were able to take home enough information from it to actually do anything. It tells lots of stories of Robert's travels and work, and lists some plants in the back, but it's far from being an instruction book. I like it for Robert's personality, but it is only marginally useful for design and maintenance of a forest garden. It has a single design drawing, and is only about Robert's garden.
If you don't want to spend much money on a book, Patrick Whitefield's "How to Make a Forest Garden" is a decent intro to the design of FGs, with much more how-to information, and many more design drawings. It's still pretty limited in scope, and doesn't go into much ecological theory or the "why" of forest gardens. But I don't think Patrick meant it to be a bible. If you actually want to create a forest garden--where you will probably be spending a few hundred bucks on plants and want to do it right--I would invest in, or have your library buy--Jacke's books. You'll get the ecological background you need to understand what is going on as the garden evolves, a wealth of trouble-shooting info, a great chapter on an FG pattern language, 200 pages on design, 2 chapters on soil ecology including some amazing info on roots and root development, and the best species lists--many tens of pages with culture, uses, and ecology--of any book I've ever seen. If it's too spendy, share it with 2 or 3 friends. But I'd rather spend $100 that helps me for decades than $25 that gives me a vague idea of what to do. I use Jacke's books all the time. Today was the first time I took down Hart's book in about 8 years.
(Buying directly from Dave at http://edibleforestgardens.com costs only a bit more than on Amazon, and Dave gets about 7 times the income from it. And I don't get anything for touting it!)
No question - don't waste too much of your cash flow on 'inspirational' books - that's what the libraries are for, spend it on heirloom quality knowledge repositories. And take a hint from Jacke - spend a lot of real time in the forest. That's about all the inspiration you need to want to get busy replicating the magic closer to home. And once that kicks in, all the rest follows.
And as far as flushless toilets go, the major value to them is to demonstrate to folks how little waste we actually produce as humans. Compared to the energy and resource squandering and expense that water based sewage management entails, flushless is almost bordering on magical in its incredibly small 'footprint'.
Done right, in 5 years, one hobbit's kitchen and toilet waste will generate MAYBE 16 cu ft of solid so called "waste" transformed into pure concentrated humus !!! That's just a wee, wee pile of stuff to deal with, barely enough to fertilize the plantings of a dozen trees and bushes once every 5 years. If that doesn't put the "problem" of human waste management in the right perspective, then nothing will. All the hullabaloo I've spent a career chasing down as a plumber/engineer/designer for village scale sewage management was just a bunch of unnecessary smoke and mirrors, wasted time and money to manage the ignorance of complacency that surrounds this aspect of rural living. It may be comforting in a myriad of ways to just flush it all away - till one day you wake up and realize that 'away' place is in fact just yours or another fellow human being's front yard. Then the horror of knowing that every flush is actually unnecessary, and never was for 100's of thousands of years of sane and safe human rural living... All toilet and kitchen waste takes is creative management that builds in the cycles and timing that mother nature needs to re-absorb it all with great grace and ease.
Well, the usefulness of Robert's book all depends on how quickly you pick up information. It tells you most of what you need to know about design concepts - all the rest can be gleaned from the internet.
The world will be inherited by the Foresters of the Future. And I am quite certain none of them will be using books to figure out what to do. In the meantime, however, we will need inspiration, encouragement and hand holding. And for that, books and other forms of publications of other's successes and failures in forestry are invaluable.
After all.... life at it's best is always a great conversation, never an argument.
My library is my friend. I cannot go out and meet all the people having ideas out there. My project is almost more than I can handle. My books have been my connection with ideas and mistakes. That helps me because they help me avoid costly errors.
I admit that my greatest inspiration comes from walking in my woods. That said, I must admit that I have been inspired to action, not just appreciation, by the actions of others that I have read about. Reading about the courage of my fellows give me courage.
It would really be of value to crawl around one's local foresty/woodsy/meadowy places. An observant person can learn a lot.
My Blog, Natural History and Forest Gardening www.dzonoquaswhistle.blogspot.com "Listen everybody, to what I gotta say, there's hope for tomorrow, if we wake up today!" Ted Nugent "Suck Marrow" Henry D Thoreau
I gave in to temptation and ordered the new Creating a Forest Garden book by Martin Crawford. I actually really like it, but it's definately aimed not so much to the permie market but to the UK gardeners market. It's a nice bigish, glossyish book full of colour photos and lovely silky paper, obviously designed with christmas presents in mind, and I'm certain that pretty well *any* keen gardener in Britain would love to own it. And bearing that in mind, I think it's going to be highly effective in promoting the idea of forest gardening within the UK.
The plants listed seem to be chosen mostly for warmer parts of UK and include things that I would never even have considered in Wales but discount things that need really hot summers, so it's not a perfect guide for me now I'm in Portugal even though the winter temperatures here aren't much different to the warmer bits of Britain. The book is very nicely written and presented, nothing too technical and not preachy in any way, just presenting the information you need to design and plant up a nice forest garden and make you feel nice and glowy inside because your new garden style is also 'green'. There were loads of native plants included, to the extent that reading it was a bit like taking a virtual tour back to the UK and I went all nostalgic remembering days spent collecting samples and seed from hedgerows and persuading them to grow in my old garden. I even managed to figure out a few which would also grow here, hopefully, so there's a few seeds on order now.
I find it hard to read anything 'heavy' these days but this book was really easy and I read it cover to cover in one day and then went through all the plants again happily making lists and then hitting ebay for seed supplies.
Is it the definitive book on forest gardening? Well, I could actually afford this one, just, wheras I never managed to scrape the money together for Edible Forest Gardens so I can't compare, but I suspect that it's going to be the definitive guide for the UK, and being a Brit myself, I can see that most Brits would believe that would also make it *the* definitive guide. We are a little insular after all.
Thanks for the update on this new book, and the great review.
My personal aversion to opinionitis leaves me quite amazed at your well crafted trip around the mulberry bush with your review. Tells us virtually everything they need to know about your experience with the book. And in the process, presents to folks whether there is investment potential there for them. Thanks for doing that. The book most certainly fills a niche...
On the other hand, Jacke's book was, at the outset, meant to fill a void in the professional world of man-made human supporting forest system designs. I have no opinion as to whether it is the ultimate void filler... and see no point of trying to imagine there is one author that could possibly serve all needs on such a topic. An honest effort from a well endowed individual expressing a deep love and understanding of the minutia their subject demands with a clear big picture purpose outlined and fleshed out - what more can you expect from a soul if it's their kind information you've found a need for? Whatever the scale of the effort, it's all good if it's good.
Now it's just the small matter of demonstrations that persuade humankind to take up the only mantel worthy of the crown of creation. And that, my friend is where it all matters. Like I said before in a sneak attack fit of opinionitis, it can only be the Foresters of tomorrow that will inherit this world - after and forever more. The self consumptive dross of bumbling throngs & pretentious fools will be subsumed.
"I've little respect for opinions - but observations - well, you could say I've got a few of them to share... LOL" - God.
Wow,Im really excited to check it out(Martin`s book)as Agroforestry News has ,hands down,been my most important texts.Patrick`s book is great too.Robert`s book is very theory but there in lies its beauty.Each site is different and I like to think in terms of potential tacticts rather than a right or wrong way.Each person develops their own relationship with their landscape so books that hone in on a specific right way(like David Jackie`s)to be a waste of paper.The Edible Forest Garden books are also East Coast specific so are my least favorite.This isnt science folks,its a personal relationship.
There is nothing permanent in a culture dependent on such temporaries as civilization.
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