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any reviews of Edible Forest Gardens by Dave Jacke?  RSS feed

 
Troy Rhodes
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These books sound good

Can anybody provide a real world review, and how they might apply to a northern tier state like Michigan or Indiana?


I did a search on several of the forums and came up empty handed.

Thanks in advance,

troy
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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there is a thread on here somewhere that I posted earlier this year..I read the two volumes and found that they were very educational, a difficult read, there are a lot of sources that you'll either want to photocopy or buy the books, but photocopy is cheaper, i borrowed them from the library...and felt that was a better move for me.

Honestly if you are just going to have a small  property I feel that library is the best source for these books, if you want to BUY a book, get Gaia's garden by toby hemenway..it has pretty much the same information with less words, easier to read and re read, and fills pretty much every need, however, there are some in depth information in the aformentioned books that I found quite interesting and worth the read..a long read..but worth it
 
David Castillo
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Location: IL/WI Border
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I'm not sure what your plans are, or how much you know about permaculture in general.

If you're just starting I'd recommend Gaia's garden or something a little more basic.

Otherwise
They are extremely in-depth and teach in both a layman (generally sidebars, or table inserts) and techinical way (main text). Everything from soil to planning to plants is covered.

The appendices at the end of the books, especially volume 2, have lots and lots of useful information (Dynamic accumlators, edibles, bloom season, etc...).

Most of it would be extrememly relevant to the locations you asked about.

As for putting what they discuss into practice it seems to be a no-brainer that it would give you a great foundation to build your site upon.
 
Josh T-Hansen
Posts: 143
Location: Zone 5 Brimfield, MA
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Amazon.com has reviews on the set and on the individual books.
Great books, and very relevant to the northern states.  Provides more than enough information and well organized design process technique which allows the designer to go as in depth as desired.
 
Troy Rhodes
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Let's say I was going to buy Gaia's Garden.  Do I need the 2nd edition, or both?  How much difference?

Thanks for the excellent information so far.

troy
 
                            
Posts: 126
Location: Ava, Mo, USA, Earth
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Jacke's books read like engineering texts.  Even though I loved them, I haven't finished the second one after 6 or 8 months of trying to.

Gaia's Gardens:  I've read both versions.  The second is more suburban, the first more rural.  It was a year or two after borrowing the 1st ed. that I bought the 2nd.  I don't think there is any reason to get both.  Even if your rural, most of the information from the 1st is still in the second, but if your suburban then you'd do better with the 2nd.
 
Ran Prieur
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Location: Spokane and near Diamond Lake, WA
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I've read EFG volume 1 cover to cover, and it's got valuable fundamental information on stuff like soils and succession and patterns of nature. The appendix, "forest gardening's top 100 species", is great!

To me, volume 2 feels like a bunch of advice that you could figure out on your own if you understand the principles in volume 1. I'm sure it's more than that but I haven't been able to read it. But the appendices at the end are extremely useful.

The books focus on a range from the Atlantic to the edge of the great plains, and from hardiness zones 4-7, so Michigan and Indiana are included.
 
              
Posts: 52
Location: Australia
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I have volume 1 and 2 but just moved onto the new property so I did not read them in depth yet. They do seem very meaty as already mentioned and with my big move and lots of work preparing the new property I only gave them a cursory glance through and packed them away although I look forward to jumping in once time permits. I have read all the official Permaculture books I bought from PRI cover to cover many times, except for Permaculture One, I have Two onwards to the modern current books.

I have bought, owned, and loaning out Gaia's Garden 2ed. and have read the first. Its a great resource for Americans as it gives you more species and animal issues related to your continent. Also has more photographs and colour so it seems prettier on the surface compared to 1ed.

As you can guess I'm southern, but our far south is like your north, so cool-temperate and our own unique plants and animals to think on but I still consider all books good resources. But its great climate for all the berry species and stone fruits and any trees that need extended cool temperatures during winter to encourage fruit set.

It limits me in choice of passionfruits as I'd love to grow the more exotics, but I've gone with Japanese Raisin trees, Strawberry Cherry guavas and other strange and interesting plants to keep me tied over and being in perfect strawberry country is a plus, double so with all the pines planted on the property providing needles.


Cheers,
PeterD
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I've read chunks of book 1

I thought that Jacke did a noble job of capturing a chunk of ecological theory.  I was trained in that primary literature in university, and was left a little hungry -- I think that they didn't get deep enough into actual polyculture assemblage, and how plants with different strategies coexist or respond to disturbance, or about population strategies of plants.  And the classical 'succession' idea is not borne out in all settings and is kind of old fashioned among modern researchers.  At the same time, they have done a better job of combining ecological theory and plantsmanship to flesh out forest garden concept than anyone else I have read.

I would say that as a scientific document, it is poorly cited and a little wordy, but it is really the first text book on its topic so that is not an insult.  It sits a little awkwardly between accessibility and a truly technical publication.

I liked the examples of reverse succession as a design approach.  I think that is heading in the right direction.  I thought planting in patches was a little bit of a cop out.  I am still hungrey for more observation of teh structural characteristics of plant polycultures.

I use a modified version of their analysis of organic matter pools when I teach a soils class -- very nice idea of looking at system dynamics under different scenarios -- first class idea.

Since I don't live in an Eastern Hardwood system I haven't felt inspired to invest in it as a reference, but we have both in our local library and I check them our form time to time.
 
                              
Posts: 25
Location: near Bellingham WA
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Not that this will help much...

This was actually the first set of books.  I was looking at Edible Forest Gardening before I looked at "permaculture".  I bought the set.  Read pieces of it here and there.  But I lack a plant/gardening background, so I couldn't make full use of it.  I do like the charts that the book has.  And it seemed quite thorough to me, aside from lacking actual horticulture information.  But there was so much information for this newbie, that it was overwhelming, even when I tried to go through the process.  But then, I tend to get easily distracted, and so rather than work through the process, I got caught up looking up "permaculture".

Gaia's Garden (my 2nd purchase) and The Earth User's Guide to Permaculture are both much easier for the average person to read, as well as for a newbie to Permaculture.  But...I still run into problems with the actual implementation side of things.  (I greatly admire hands-on abilities more than theory, but I read more theory than do hands-on.)

However, if given a choice between Mollison's Intro to Permaculture (I haven't gotten to see the Design book yet) vs Edible Forest Gardens, I'd choose Dave Jacke's books.

If given a choice between either Gaia's Garden or The Earth User's Guide, vs Jacke's books, I'd purchase The Earth User's Guide first, then it would be a toss up to me on whether to later buy Jacke's book (more thorough) or G.G. (less expensive).

So ultimately it depends on
how much you like theory and making/reading charts (Edible Forest Garden),
how much you like planning/organizing first (Gaia's Garden),
or how much you'd prefer to feel like your already doing something right from the get go (Earth User's Guide to Permaculture).
Oh, and also how much cost influences your decisions.
 
Briggs Burnham
Posts: 24
Location: Fairfield, IA
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Didn't read all the replies so sorry if I'm duplicating info here.

Jacke's books are jam packed full of good info, but if you're a rank beginner I would also recommend Gaia's garden or doing a lot of internet reading/video watching to get you used to basic concepts.

The first volume is a more narrative book and talks about philosophy, basic concepts, and why he's doing what he's doing.  It also has some good reference material, but once you've read it and understand the ideas you don't really need it around as much.  The second volume has most of the references: charts, lists, a wealth of information he's collected that you can refer to  without having to do all the observation and research yourself.

I'm in SE Iowa and my friends and I have used his books and find his info relevant to our climate which is only a little warmer than yours.

Hope that helps.
 
Bucks Brandon
Posts: 44
Location: Bucks County, Pennsylvania [zone 6]
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I'll throw in my $0.02 worth;

I'm really glad I read Gias Garden first, it's much better as an intro - as others have stated.

I got EFG from the library via the inter-library loan system [when they don't have it, but get it from another library system]. So since I can't just go and check it out again easily, i've been reading like crazy.

Volume 1 was heavy. Academic, even. Not that it didn't have value, but most of what I was looking for personally I did not find or want in volume 1. The big exception was the appendix with 100 most useful plants - that all got photocopied!!!

Volume 2 is much more enjoyable for me. Alot more of the "O" instead of the "theory and background" that I already feel I got from Gias and reading online, other sources, etc....
There is so much useful stuff that I'm probably going to skip photocopying anything in vol 2 and just buy it. It's very solid for the scale that I'm working with and my climate. [half an acre in zone 6].

Your mileage may vary, but I guess my personal recommendation is to borrow Vol 1 and do some copying, and buy volume 2.

Good luck!
 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Im not a huge fan of these books.They are very specific in their application(back yard,eastern hardwood,food production only)for how big and expensive they are.I really love Patrick Whitefields stuff because he is actually doing it and that real word experience clearly comes through.I have lots of other beefs addressed in the other threads about this book.
 
Guy De Pompignac
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Location: SW of France
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Best books of Permaculture ever (specifically vol 2)

maybee it is to be mixed with one book for introduction (gaias garden for example) and the PDM by Bill Mollison for the spirit and eureka of permaculture way of thinking
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
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Location: Stevensville, MT
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Here is an amazon link to the books, for those interested: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN/1890132608/rs12-20
 
                              
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Just to ad to the discussion I'll post my thoughts.

Basically I agree with the general sentiment of everyone else.  I recently finished a biology degree and found the books to read like a summation of my years in school, with a few notable facts to put into play.

Overall Volume 1 was very broad and pertained mostly to the ecology and general idea of growing like a forest.  The second was the "put into practice" volume and honestly I found it almost worthless.  Case in point, I was looking forward to an in depth discussion of constructing swales and overall landscape structuring before planting.  Yet swales in particle (with regards to water capture) occupied but a 1/4 of a page.

Books like Gaias Garden and sepp holzer's Permaculture had much better permaculture ideas to physically put into practice.  If you want a grand history and theory of succession.  Read EFG.
 
                          
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I read both volumes as well as most of the other books noted and also martin crawfords "creating a forest garden".  Edible Forest Gardens was a far heavier read (comparable to university level textbooks) than the rest and imo way better on every level.  I live in Canada just over the border from Michigan and found it highly applicable to the region and am in the process of putting some of it into practice on a ten acre property, equally applicable to suburbia imo though.

Good read, I highly recommend it.

pv
 
kevin wheels
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Both volumes of Edible Forest Gardens are incredible. I would argue that the second volume is going to benefit you in the long-run much more if you were to invest on one, but the first is very good as well, especially if you are at all new to many concepts in this type of gardening. I agree with an above poster who said that the second volume reads like an engineering text; it certainly can at times. It makes for an incredible reference though... It has a glorious appendix and is jam-packed with all kinds of informational tidbits. One example would be that one stinging nettle for every ten medicinally-purposed plants will increase the production of said medicinal properties. It's filled with stuff like that. Mostly though, I would say picking up the second volume is totally worth it. While it has a very academic quality that can be difficult to get through, it's more of a tool than a 'sit down and read' book. I mostly use it for the appendix which neatly compiles information across a broad many a category. Whether it's flowering schedules, appropriate climate zone, water usage, shade tolerance, allelopathic chemicals, what insects like what plants, etc, all of that information is at your fingertips without the need for electricity or internet. That's a pretty solid deal. If you go the frugal route, I would highly suggest at least photocopying the appendix and sticking it in a binder or something.

I do agree with many of the opinions here though. It focuses on a specific climate (USA east coast temperate) and has little to do with other integral concepts within permaculture such as earthworks. However, for what it lacks for breadth it makes up for in depth. Not everyone is a biology major, so plenty of these concepts will be fresh in one's learning experience. If you are looking for a great series that is similar to EFG but on the topic of earthworks, I would highly suggest Rainwater Harvesting in Drylands and Beyond. It has similar depth, but is definitely a lot more accessible than EFG and is on an integral topic in permaculture, whether or not you live in a dry area.
 
Paula Edwards
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I am about to read the first volume and I find it very theoretical. The same amount of information could be transported in giving more practical information, for example guilds that worked. There's lots of stuff you learned at school.
It's still OK and you learn a lot reading it, but I'm missing a bit the hands on approach.
 
kevin wheels
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ediblecities wrote:
I am about to read the first volume and I find it very theoretical. The same amount of information could be transported in giving more practical information, for example guilds that worked. There's lots of stuff you learned at school.
It's still OK and you learn a lot reading it, but I'm missing a bit the hands on approach.


The second volume has more of the in-depth practical stuff.
 
                                  
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I am about to read the first volume and I find it very theoretical. The same amount of information could be transported in giving more practical information, for example guilds that worked. There's lots of stuff you learned at school.


They stress that because this is such a new (actually old, but we're thinking about it in new ways in this century) way of gardening that they don't want to give specific polycultures because they want people to THINK and EXPERIMENT and come up with really good mixtures of plants for specific sites and climates.  Many people know nothing about ecology.  I'm sure it will disappoint someone who is educated about plants and ecosystems, but they are really making an effort to bring this idea to the mainstream. 

I love these books.  I've read all of volume one, and have been about halfway thru the second for over a year (will come back to it this winter).  I would not recommend just reading volume two.  Volume one is tedious, but I'd argue that if you absorbed all of the information in the first, the second is less important, as it's a lot of planting and site preparations how-to stuff that lots of other resources have already covered.  None of that is espeically original. 

Please buy the book directly from Chelsea Green, and not Amazon.  Spend ten more dollars and support a really amazing publisher of all kinds of important books, rather than a soul sucking small book store killing corporate giant.  Just sayin! 
 
Travis Philp
gardener
Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I have read the first volume thoroughly and have read pertinent parts of the second.

Overall I think that anyone wishing to get into forest gardening in a temperate climate would benefit from these books. I think someone else said it; the case studies and plant species index list at the back is worth the purchas alone IMO.

The first volume is a bit dry at times, and if you know a lot about plant ecology it may be a lot of review but if you're new to the concept I could see it being a real catalyst for a mindshift into thinking about plantlife in a whole different way.

As I said, I haven't read teh whole of the second volume but from what I have read, its well worth the read.

When I first heard about the book set I was a poor student so I kinda tricked my college's library into ordering it for their shelves. I said that I needed it for a project (which isn't a lie if you consider life being a project. You may be able to do the same with your library!
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