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The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe  RSS feed

 
Alison Thomas
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Has anybody read this book "The Resilient Gardener" by Carol Deppe?  I'm half way through and I'd be interested to have other permaculture folks views on it.
 
Brenda Groth
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its on my reading list..what are YOUR opinons of it?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I bought it a few months ago and am already on my third reading.  It's a very good book -- not permaculture, but still a lot of useful information in there. 

I do think that vegetable gardens with annuals still have, and probably always will have, some place in the scheme of things.  What I would like to see for a set-up would be a smaller vegetable garden (to me, smaller means maybe a quarter of an acre, LOL!), surrounded by, or intermingled with, the perennials and tree and bush crops.  Also surrounded by and intermingled with some pasture and hay land for livestock. 

Kathleen
 
jacque greenleaf
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I loved this book. To me, the most valuable thing in it is her description of how she arrived at her staple crops. How she thought this through is a model for anyone trying to grow most of their food. She is also a talented plant breeder and I enjoyed "watching" how she goes about that.

Not strictly permie, but well worth reading and pondering.
 
Robert Ray
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I have read it and though at first blush, her diet sounded limited, but with the variety of potatoes and squash it might not be too bad.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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The five staples aren't her entire diet, just the bones of it.  She raises a great many other vegetables, also, and trades for or buys fruit from the many orchards in the area (I've lived in that area -- agriculturally, it's a wonderful place to be). 

Kathleen
 
John Polk
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The book is on my to-buy list.
Like almost every gardening book, it is aimed at the urban/suburban gardener.
I believe that the book is trying to get people to grow a basic diet (that can be grown almost anywhere).  Most of what is in the book are crops that keep well, rather than volatile crops that have a very narrow window of opportunity.

To me, annuals will always be a part of my gardening.  With proper canning, tomatoes & peppers can be used throughout the winter for spaghetti, chili, soups and stews.  Beans, peas and corn go with any meal.

By combining annuals and perennials, we get choices throughout the year.
Neither one, by itself, would suffice in my kitchen.
 
Alison Thomas
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I just bought it last week and have enjoyed reading it in the main.  There's lots of useful inormation in there - like walnuts go bitter if you leave the husks on for much more than two days after they fall (explains a LOT about our first year's nut harvest!).

But no, not permaculture.  I'm having a hard time working with a no-till approach (for the second year in a row we have no crops) but I still find it hard to read when someone does till, like Carol Deppe. But she gets food - grrrrr.

I'm actually finding that the book has lots of 'odd' things in it - like she tills but can't stand to see top soil blowing away.  She does mulch but not deep mulch - but I can hear what she says on that one because lots of wildlife (slugs and mice) has taken up residence in my deep mulch and has munched all the crops.  It's kinda like she's almost permaculture in technique but not there yet (and obviously is way away from there in terms of actual crops).

I bought Gaia's Garden at the same time and I'm now reading that and it talks so much more to my heart.  But I'm back to wondering if the rest of the title 'A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture' is actually the pertinent bit as I'm trying desperately to see how to grow crops for our animals in 17 acres a permaculture way. The Resilient Gardener talks to me head on that one.
 
Ray South
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Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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I enjoyed the book and found it useful in approach if not in specifics. I like her approach to growing food.
 
Ed Waters
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We have the book, and are following some of her practices, so far we some good success.  We practice alot of permaculture technigues, along with forest gardening.  As long as we are focusing on saving seeds with the annuals we don't get too hung up on that.  We grew painted mountain and oaxacan green corn, and several of the squash she recommended.  Of the squash, costata romanesco has done best, and we have probably dried over 100 pounds of it alone.  Currently using a dehydrator for the squash. 
Fingers crossed on seed saving for the corn.  If successful we will have enough for a much larger planting next year.  Painted mountain variety is giving about 240 seeds per ear, or 1,400 seeds to the pound. 

We have a good stack of books but from a practical standpoint this one has to be about the best.
 
Alison Thomas
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Dammit, Carol has cost me a small fortune as I've just 'had to' go out and buy an Excalibur dehydrator. 

I'm wondering where I get all these varieties of corn and squash over here in Europe. I'm so excited to get going next spring (this winter all the trees go in for the food forest so I'm rationalising a bit like Ed).
 
Fred Morgan
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Well, I went and bought it on line, as well as Seth's book. Got some "light" reading ahead of me. 
 
John Saltveit
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I thought that this was a great book and perhaps the best on how to survive on vegetables.  I have more fruit and berries than vegetables, and there's not a whole lot of permaculture theory, but no one book will say it all.  I would highly recommend it. I loved the varieties of potatoes and the style of rotation.
JOhn S
PDX OR
 
Ed Waters
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Alison, if you run into a dead end getting these seeds, PM me.  Probably easier to just send them through the post office, if the regs into France are tough.  I have gained so much from this site and a little pay back would be a pleasure.

Best
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Some of the ways that Carol gardens are very specific to her climate and soil type and would not work well in a different climate.  The value of the book is that she explains why she does what she does, why that works in her location, and gives you the steps to go through to figure out what is going to work in your location.  She doesn't lay it out in a 'Step 1, Step 2, Step 3' fashion, but the information is there.  It's not instant -- it may take two or three years of experimenting (and it sounds like she is still experimenting with different things even after many years of living in that area, so it may take you a lifetime!), but she does give you the tools to do it.

I was thinking, too, that even though she's talking about annuals in the book, some of the concepts will apply to perennials and tree crops.  So it's really not useless for permaculture.

Kathleen
 
Rita Vail
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I love this book. It is her personal gardening story, but I have come to many of the same conclusions - I also hate drip hoses and quit composting, for instance. I love when she gives you the scientific explanation. And there are cooking and storing suggestions. And she knows what the Indians in her area did. There are tons of tidbits. It is a must read.
 
Jack Shawburn
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A+ - This is one of those books that I go back to from time to time
to read about how she did eg. Beans or Potatoes.
This book has made me realise I really need ducks or chickens now.
Wish there were more such reads around.
A real personal "How to" book on sustainability.
I will be reading chapters over and over as time goes by.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I referred to The Resilient Gardener twice just today.  It's one I won't want to pack away until the last minute!

Kathleen
 
deano Martin
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This is an outstanding book. Like Jeavons (How to grow more vegetables), whether you agree with the techniques or not, if you aspire to growing your own food, you should read it.
From a Permaculture perspective, if 'Every Important Function should be supported by more than one Element', we shouldn't only grow our food in one way.
I have learnt so much from this book, which when combined with Forest Gardening, biointensive gardening, and grain growing using the Bonfils method, should form a sustainable food growing system.
Like Alison, I am trying to obtain the varieties that she lists. Carol is happy to send the seeds, but there is no guarantee that they will clear customs.
All of the best
Deano
 
Alison Thomas
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Ohhh excited here... is that grain growing Bonfils method, the French guy Marc. Is there a book he has - in English? If it's him, he think he lives about 120 miles from us though I know not where.  I'd love to meet him to talk to him.

I went onto Carol's website but it said that the seeds weren't yet available. Is there another way to get them? I've seen other outlets that have some, others have others, but often (probably due to Carol's success - brilliant) they are sold out.  Can't find them here in Europe currently.
 
deano Martin
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Hi Alison
The website for Carol Deppe is here.
http://www.caroldeppe.com/
If you sign up for her newsletter, she will send you her seed list, and prices, when they are avilable. Last year it was Spring.
The only book in English that I know of that describes the Bonfils method is 'The Harmonious Wheatsmith' which you can download here.
http://www.moodie.biz/wheatsmith.html
There is a fukuoka/bonfils thread on the permaculture forum, here
http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/1568_0/permaculture/fukuokabonfils-winter-wheat-method-for-chicken-feed
Hope that gets you started
Deano
http://deanom.wordpress.com/
 
deano Martin
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For Rita
The Indian practices that she lists are from the Book 'Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden'  by Gilbert L Wilson. It's a lovely read, and quite practical. If you think that we have problems, imagine having to hide all of your Winter food, and seed, in dug out caches, to stop them being robbed by raiding Sioux.
All of the best
Deano
 
Ray South
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Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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Another Deppe fan here. I've read both the one referred to here and an earlier one on vegetable breeding and seed saving. I found both books full of useful information.
 
John Wahlmeier
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I have a review of it here

http://uncommon-skills-uncommonskills.blogspot.com/2012/08/book-review-resilient-gardener.html

I think it is an excellent book, but it isn't a permaculture book. One thing that the book does make abundantly clear is that the bulk of food can come from calorie crops, as long as they are balanced for a diet, with variety and other vegetables and minerals provided by other foods. I think that many homesteaders forget this, that we can grow main crops that provide calories and the base of a diet. We usually think of veggies, fruits, and specialty crops rather than main crops, and this book helps bring the ideas of growing main crops back to the discussion.

www.uncommonskills.com
 
Shodo Spring
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Based on the various comments here, I want to recommend Peter Bane's The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country. It IS a permaculture book, covers a wide range of information, is organized by patterns, by a terrific permaculture teacher who spent a lot of time creating a comprehensive book. It seems to be most oriented toward the small farm or suburb. Anyway I think it's the best basic book out there, thoough I haven't read them all. (gaia's garden was fun and inspiring, but not nearly as useful for actually creating your own place.)
 
Brenda Groth
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I got it from the library on Friday and am about 1/2 way through reading it, it is a really good book but definately NOT Permaculture. I guess by now experienced permies can take the good and leave the bad behind.

there is a book with a similar title that is definately NOT worth getting..called..The Weather Resilient Garden..Got that one too and it is really a boring book..took it back already.

I recommend that people read the Carol Deppe book with an open mind and realize that her gardening practices are NOT aligned with Permaculture in any way..but that she has good advice beyond that.

Also you have to really read it ..as some people seem to think that she only uses the 5 basic foods, but she talks about all the other foods she grows too, like brassicas, greens, tomatoes, etc....but those 5 are her MAIN STAPLES..a lot of what she says makes good sense..I took a lot of notes.
 
mary yett
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I found this to be an excellent book that I go back to frequently. I like the way she explains her logic and research. Her comments on variety selection and food storage are sound, even if her cultivation methods are not permacuture ones.

I plan on always having some annual vegetable plots on my permaculture spread, much like Jeoff Lawton's kitchen garden inside a protective wildlife proof fence. I have no intention of giving up potatoes, beans, corn and squash, etc - I just integrate them into a no-till polyculture in between trees and shrubs in the food forest. I also plan on eating a greater portion of my diet from perennials as my plantings mature.

I have ordered seed from Carol for this spring. I am especially looking forward to trying her Sweet-meat Oregon Homestead winter squash. I have been growing and storing various winter squashes such as hubbards and Waltham butternuts, which store really well. I am still eating last year's crop as I write this in late March, but I like the idea of a much thicker layer of edible "meat" than what I currently get out of a hubbard. Did you see her photographs of the inside of these squash? I want that!

She is also currently writing another book about other annual vegetable species she grows and breeds - tomatoes and others. I will buy that for sure.

Manitoulin Mary
 
Brenda Groth
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I didn't realize you could contact her to order her seeds, I just sent her off an email. thanks. I want to try the 3 squashes she has listed and the Hanna Popbeans.
 
John Polk
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Very smart of her to offer seeds.
The biggest complaint I have heard about her book is "I can't find seeds for the varieties she recommends."

She has solved that problem, as well as guaranteeing a residual income for years to come.

 
Mike Haych
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Location: Eastern Canada, Zone 5a
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Everyone in this thread is raving about the book but a number of comments have said that this isn't a permaculture book. I'm curious as to why. What specifically is she doing that runs counter to permaculture?
 
mary yett
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Permaculture is defined slightly differently by everyone who uses the word, which is a good thing and contributes to diversity. On a sliding scale, I would place Carol somewhere between organic farming and permaculture.

Her NOT permaculture things -
Carol's growing methods are organic, but she still grows mainly annuals using monoculture on a small farm scale. She tills the soil, uses only light spot mulch, doesn't use silvopasture or silvoculture, doesn't mix perrenials and annuals together, etc. She doesn't have any earthworks to capture seasonal winter rainwater in the soil and does irrigate a bit when she can in the dry summer. In all fairness, she is limited by the fact that she is renting her main crop field, but I'm not sure she even dreams of earthworks, as she never mentions them.

Her Permaculture-like things-
She is a master vegetable variety breeder and seed saver, always improving her stock to better meet her local conditions. She strongly believes that everyone can and should breed their own veggie varieties to get better food and more independence. She generously spreads this knowledge in a upbeat, interesting way, making potentially dry subjects like genetics and chemistry seem like a good story. She sells her high quality, specially bred seeds at reasonable prices. Her food preservation methods are well researched and presented and she encourages everyone to grow their own food, which she does for herself.

I highly recommend this book for many reasons, including how well written it is - she makes all this stuff interesting and fun. Now if she would just buy land and put in some terraces, swales, hugels beds and lots of trees, shrubs and perennials!
 
Mike Haych
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mary yett wrote:
Her NOT permaculture things - Carol's growing methods are organic, but she still grows mainly annuals using monoculture on a small farm scale. She tills the soil, uses only light spot mulch, doesn't use silvopasture or silvoculture, doesn't mix perrenials and annuals together, etc. She doesn't have any earthworks to capture seasonal winter rainwater in the soil and does irrigate a bit when she can in the dry summer. In all fairness, she is limited by the fact that she is renting her main crop field, but I'm not sure she even dreams of earthworks, as she never mentions them.


Anyone on a small lot cannot silvopasture or silvoculture. In fact, the most efficient use of a small lot is growing annual vegetables. That's where the maximum yield is. There are lots of ways to capture rainwater besides earthworks. 1000 litre food grade cubes do an excellent job and are far cheaper that earthmoving which isn't exactly taking care of the earth. And water stored this way can be used exactly where it is needed. She grows annual vegetables because they allow her to store calories through the winter. While some will argue that food forests do that, they are not as efficient per square foot. You can get a lot more calories out of a 100 ft x 100 ft garden of beans, corn, squash, & potatoes than you can out of a 100 ft x 100 ft food forest. Annual vegetables cannot be on the bottom layer because they need lots of sun. It seems to me that the biggest short coming of her approach is tilling but that goes with annual vegetables unless you do as Emilia Hazelip did.

Her Permaculture-like things-
She is a master vegetable variety breeder and seed saver, always improving her stock to better meet her local conditions. She strongly believes that everyone can and should breed their own veggie varieties to get better food and more independence. She generously spreads this knowledge in a upbeat, interesting way, making potentially dry subjects like genetics and chemistry seem like a good story. She sells her high quality, specially bred seeds at reasonable prices. Her food preservation methods are well researched and presented and she encourages everyone to grow their own food, which she does for herself.


Interesting.

I submit that she's not considered a permaculturalist because she grows annual vegetables and she tills. Growing annual vegetables means that folks like John Jeavons and Emilia Hazelip will never make it to the Permie Hall of Fame. Perhaps permies should look closely at some of the things that they do because they grow a hell of a lot of calories in a small space and regeneratively build the soil.
 
mary yett
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Earthworks done well ARE definitely taking care of the earth - I have seen the results of this at sepp holzer's Krameterhof and other locations. The life in the soil and the plants growing there flourish ( even if untended) after well done earthworks - it restores the hydrological balance of the soil and water is the basis of all life. The results typically last for generations and the soil continues to improve over time.

Once a 100 x 100 food forest matures, it produces significantly more annual calories than a 100 x 100 annual bed.

Also, she rents a farm field, not a small lot. Please note that I said that there are many definitions of permacuture. It appears that mine differs a bit from yours, which is all part of the healthy diversity picture.
 
Dennis Lanigan
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Carol rents and I rent, so I tried all of her amazing suggestions--the corn, beans, drying squash, ducks, all of it--instead of being continually sad I can't buy land and do large scale permaculture.

Next year (if there is a next year) I do plan on making polyculture areas--mixing a bunch of seed together and tossing out---of different storage crops that hopefully will just reseed and spread everywhere in my garden as weeds: quinoa, amaranth, sunflowers, buckwheat, flax, radish, squash, beans, kale, lentils, tomatillos, dandelions, etc. Maybe this would make Carol's strategy more PC (despite the tilling). I was inspired to do this by some amaranth and sunflowers that were planted in the garden three years ago and just won't give up. Hopefully soon my most of my "weeds" will just be mostly self-seeded wild land races along with a bunch of pollinator flowers. (I tried some of this random seed action this year among the Carol Deppe bred Sweet Meat Oregon Homestead squash; mostly bulk bin stuff: black beans, adzuki beans, and buckwheat).

I did do a hugelkulture bed on a small scale: four kale plants have thrived through 10 weeks of no rain, while other plants have suffered...
 
mary yett
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Sounds like you have some great ideas, Dennis. One of the most important PC ideas is learning to make the best out of what you have.
 
Michael Cox
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I've just read this and really enjoyed it. It really helped me join the dots a bit - our current garden basically supplies flavour but not the quantity of calories we need. Yes, this is not a permaculture book, as she uses tillage and field planting but there is a lot of good stuff in there.

I followed it up with her book on breeding your own vegetable varieties - this looks incredibly powerful and could be really useful for expanding the scope of permaculture plantings. I'm going to start another thread on that however!
 
Glenn Underhill
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I have the book and thought it was great. The idea is the five foods- squash, potatoes, corn, beans and chickens or ducks provide most of the food for us and I mean that we can actually survive on. Permaculture is a great concept but how many of us are actually using it for most of our food? I'm one of those people who loves the idea and is going to try it, but I know it will be a long road.

The book was also enjoyable to read.

I also have the Peter Bane book and while it is good, its more "technical" and a sort of like a text book.

I also have Steve Soloman's Gardening When It Counts and I like that also. It's not permaculture however.
 
Mike Haych
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mary yett wrote:Once a 100 x 100 food forest matures, it produces significantly more annual calories than a 100 x 100 annual bed


Hmmmm. What's in your food forest?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I originally posted on this thread when it first began a couple of years ago. Just wanted to add that I still love this book! I've re-read it about once a year, and use her recipe for cooking beans pretty regularly.

I got some seeds from Carol last summer, but she was overwhelmed with orders, and my seeds came too late to do much with them (plus my 2013 garden was pretty much a wash-out, due to being in a new place and trying to get a new garden started, plus having grandchildren visiting all summer), so I'm hoping to see how they do here this season.

It's going to take me a while to get my permanent plantings established, so I want to see what I can do in the meantime with Carol Deppe's ideas and advice -- most of her staple crops won't work all that well in our climate, but potatoes will, and I'm going to try the popbeans. We have chickens (and dairy goats, and I'm raising a Jersey heifer); I might add a few ducks this year, but am happy with the chickens for our place. Beans don't do well here, but I'm going to try favas and soup peas instead. The Oregon Homestead Sweet Meat squash will be our big experiment, as we have cold nights all summer and can have frost in any month, but a friend who lives closer to Klamath Falls says that Sweet Meat squash has done well at their place (we are a little higher up). In addition, for other staples, I plan to rely on other root crops (rutabagas, beets, carrots, onions and garlic, primarily) and on cabbage. I guess in a pinch we could make a complete diet out of all that, but of course, like Carol, there is also a small kitchen garden for greens and such. Tomatoes, cukes, and so on need a greenhouse here, so I don't know what we'll do with that this year. Anyway, The Resilient Gardener and Carol's book on breeding vegetables have become two of the most valued gardening books I have. I think it's because they are packed with practical, usable stuff that most of us can really feed ourselves with.

I'm not going to get much planted for my food forest/permaculture stuff this year due to some extra expenses that have come up, but I should at least be able to grow much of our food with the help of Carol's books. (Now I need to work on growing feed for the livestock.)

Kathleen
 
Sam Boisseau
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I too ordered seeds from Carol last year and received some a bit late.


I finally got around to planting the pop garbanzo beans. Realized that she recommended planting them earlier because they tolerate frost but that's ok.


So I took a dozen seeds and decided to pop them... I heard a couple pops and they didn't look very different but I still decided to risk my teeth and... YUM! Those pop beans are just delicious! A bit like a hazelnut but even more delicious.


Excited to plant her flint corn I received last year too.
 
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