I am looking at buying some books for studying permaculture. I already ordered Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway since it seems to fit my situation better (small property). I was looking at Sepp Holzer's book (english) and David Holmgren's Principles and Pathways. Anybody able to give me some insight on these books would be a great help. Love this site!
Location: near Bellingham WA
posted 9 years ago
I have Holmgren's Principles and Pathways. I read up to Principle 7, then set it back on my bookshelf. It's not serving my purposes, which is to find a plan for application of principles, and help interest my daughter to learn with me. However, it's worth at least a read. It supposedly delves further into Holmgren's version of the principles, but I was surprised by how much...randomness...was in it. Meaning topics were included under a specific principle that...well..I couldn't figure out how it really related to it. You'll get between 10-20 pages or so per principle. But in all honesty, his site has a free pdf download that gives a decent summary of what's in this book. I do like the memory cues of pictures and quotes though, and those are also in the free pdf summary of the book.
Other books that you may be interested in might depend on how theoretical you like to get, or how many diagrams you prefer over written word, etc etc.
Earth User's Guide to Permaculture by Rosemary Morrow offers quite a few diagrams and hand drawings and tables, in an easy to read almost simplistic looking format. Simplistic yes, but it gets the points across. Her book is Australian based.
Or, if you want something more..er..scholarly feeling to it...and need info more geared towards colder or temperate climates, then there is The Earth Care Manual by Patrick Whitefield. There is far more written word in this, and the typing and layout is more textbookish than Morrow's book. It's UK based.
If you're interested in a more narratory approach to learning how to observe, and how to read landscapes, Patrick Whitefield has a UK based book titled The Living Landscape: How to Read and Understand It. I actually really like this book, even if it refers to places and plants that I haven't a clue about. I've only gotten to page 32 so far, but have already surprised myself when I noticed ..I mean actually noticed!!!..the hills and valleys in my immediate area, and could actually apply some information from the book to it. Such as knowing the hills are formed by hard rocks while the little valleys and pits were formed by weathering of soft rocks, and what this might mean in terms of nutrients in the soil. I just never really thought of it at all...and had no info to apply to what I did see. And with this book, Even in the first few pages (314 pages of text) I've learned more than I've ever considered of landscapes. It is primarily narration, easy to read, with a few diagrams or sketches here and there. It's one that I might be able to get my 15yo daughter to read one section a day or so and she'd be able to grasp much of the info..and enjoy showing her new knowledge off to some of her friends.
Ross Mars has a book titled The Basics of Permaculture Design, which is much like a summarized version of the huge textbooks. Lots of diagrams and sketches in it too. I would say that it is worth a read, and if you can find it used or at a price discount and you have the cash and space, at least consider it. But it would be more of a supplementary book if your a collector rather than a primary text, imo.
My favorites for simple style and easy reading for my 15yo would be The Living Landscape and The Earth User's Guide.
But note, before I got the above, I started with Gaia's Garden. While I had liked the guiding questions and such from Gaia's Garden, I find myself turning to The Earth User's Guide much more for perusing through the topics.
However, with that in mind, I'm focusing on Zone 0, inside my home, first, and will only be mapping my .2 acre plot this summer. I don't have much time or energy to spend studying and researching, and my immediate concern is reducing monthly costs/expenditures. Perhaps when my focus changes to actually getting my hands dirty in the yard, then my book preference might change? Who knows. But for now I'm learning lots from the Living Landscape book, and use the Earth User's Guide to aide in daydreaming,
Dealing w/ less than .17 acres, mostly shady, sun blocked by trees, annoying by-laws, about 1/3 of land covered by house and sheds, and very very minimal finances and labor options. Time to get creative!
I actually really like Mollison's "Designers Manual" though it is an expensive textbook (ouch!) and contains a lot of information on the tropics which may not be all that relevant. Parts of it are heavy on theory (which I tend to skip over).
i borrowed dozens of permie books from the library and still felt that for a smaller property Gaia's garden has most of them beat handsdown.
Dave Jacke's Edible forest garden books are good but are a difficult read and expensive so borrow them from the library if you get them...if you have a printer you can save any charts you want, i did, and take notes.
I liked Sepps book but wouldn't necessarily recommend it
Bloom where you are planted.
Two very useful books, for backyards and small properties, by Lee Reich, a long time permie and friend of Martha Stewart "Weedless Gardening" "Landscaping with Fruit"
he's not afraid to ask the question "Do I really need to do that?" when it comes to growing things
When asked about what type of apple would he recommend to plant in the yard, he said "I wouldn't recommend any, if you live east of the Rockies, due to the disease pressure. Plant something that you don't have to spray as much and buy your apples."