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Grow your own seasonal food in a low maintenance, nature friendly garden that feels like a woodland glade. Alan Carter shows you how to plan and plant a temperate forest garden for any sized plot, from small terrace or allotment to smallholding.

Learn how to successfully layer root crops, fruit, perennial vegetables and edible shrubs below tree crops, cultivating an edible garden that doesn’t look like a traditional vegetable plot. A forest garden is wildlife friendly, provides nutrient-dense and often unusual food through every season and requires minimal work to maintain.

The first part of this in-depth practical guide explains how a forest garden works, how to map your own climate and design your own plot, and how to manage it with pruning, mulching and weeding. What’s not to like about Alan’s motto of ‘the more you pick, the more you get’, and intriguing concepts such as the Panda Principle?

The second half of the book is a detailed directory of more than 170 plants and fungi suitable for a wide range of temperate climates, complete with growing, harvesting and cooking tips based on over a decade of Alan’s own experience. Learn how to incorporate traditional fruit and vegetable crops, such as beans and strawberries, into your forest garden, and how to weave in more unusual crops, such as shiitake mushrooms and ferns.

Techniques from agro-ecology bring regenerative farming into the backyard, helping you to work towards greater self sufficiency. Useful tips on seed saving and propagation help keep plant costs low and there is practical advice on soil health, compost – essential for all no dig, organic gardeners – and pests and disease.

Written by Scottish plant expert Alan Carter, A Food Forest in your Garden will help you create your own productive forest gardens even in cooler climates.
Where to get it?
Permanent Publications
Chelsea Green
Food Forest Garden
Apple books

Related Videos

Related Threads

Forest Garden Forum
Perennial Vegetables Forum

Related Websites
Alan Carter's Webpages
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Posts: 3644
Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland. Nearly 70 inches rain a year
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I give this book 9 out of 10 acorns.

I bought this book as soon as it came out - having followed Alan Carter's original 'blog 'of Plums and Pignuts' now relocated to Food Forest Garden I was really excited when I heard Alan had been able to make good use of 'lock down' to write a book. Alan has created a Forest Garden on his allotment in Aberdeen and this book draws on his experiences growing more unusual edible crops in an unusual way.  What makes it so relevant to me is that Alan is also in Scotland, so has a short cool summer.  All the plants he suggests in this book are therefore relevant to my garden also.

Although I have been gardening for many years, and have had an interest in Forest Gardens for about 20, I still made copious notes whilst reading this book for the first time. I learnt things such as you can pickle green elder stalks, stir fry immature scots pine pollen cones, eat immature skirret flower stems, and that nasturtium leaves are milder when cooked. I've also now got another long list of new plants to try growing myself!

Alan starts off with a basic overview of Forest Gardens, with discussion of soil types, climates, and how growing and harvesting are done in a different way in a Forest Garden. A vast array of plants are discussed, almost all from the author's own experience, including some conventional crops and how they can be practically included in your Forest Garden. He writes in a whimsical style which makes the science he includes easy to digest.

Alan on
brambles: "a cross between creeping buttercup and barbed wire"
Grains "grasses have domesticated humans"
and not forgetting "The Fiddly food weight control diet" !

The only caveat I may have is that the book is written for smaller plots - so will suit those with limited space rather than those with broad expanses, and does cater mainly to those with a simlar mild damp climate to  the UK. If you do live in a temperate maritime climate and only have room for one book on Forest Gardening then this would be a definite contender. It is accessible to those with little gardening knowledge and deep enough to satisfy those with more experience.
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Location: Zone 8b, South West Scotland, UK
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I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns.

This book is perfect for people who live in a mild, wet location where summer rain is more guaranteed than sun and "You still want to be able to pick after a rainstorm on a summer's day when the plants are grown up on all sides, dripping wet and cold."

The cool-temperate range is so huge and even within the comparatively tiny UK, there is a big difference in summer sun and winter chill levels, never mind rainfall amounts. Until now there hasn't been much research done in more northerly, maritime regions and having read other forest gardening books and planted a small forest garden myself, I feel this book fills that gap and gives a much more accurate picture of forest gardening for my climate. I wish I'd had this book years ago!

Among the many gems are:
- how to use your forest garden as a "compressed foraging resource" with a very useful "The Forest Garden Year" table showing perennial crop availability over the seasons and how they fit with annual crops
- that it’s ok not to have all the recommended layers of a forest garden if light levels mean that two may be sufficient
- how to manage fertility by composting directly in the beds
- how to use sun loving perennials as a buffer bed between shady perennial slug habitats and annual veg
- how to prune raspberries so they can be allowed to ramble without needing support; and native brambles to stop them taking over
- why you should pick the whole shoot tip if you want continuity of production
- really useful 'how to eat' chapter to make full use of your unusual produce
- the plant list with comprehensive details on whether the author has found the plant worth space in his forest garden or not.

I think this book would be excellent for beginners and more experienced forest gardeners, with enough theory to explain the principles and plenty of practical guidance on how to get started, including how to avoid some of the common mistakes.

Wonderful book and I wish all climates could have a book like this to cover their local conditions. Maybe then forest gardening would become as popular as it should be.
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Location: Japan, zone 9a/b, annual rainfall 2550mm, avg temp 1.5-32 C
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I give this book 8 out of 10 acorns.

This book is great. The only caveat is that it is written primarily for people in the UK, especially Scotland. With that in mind it is still extremely useful as a reference for designing, redesigning, or eating from a forest garden.

I enjoyed Alan Carter's writing style. I find it informative, honest, and easy to read and understand. He doesn't play up anything and adds cautions and warning where appropriate without making the prospect of expanding your diet too intimidating.

And expanding my diet is what this book made me want to do. I was familiar with a tiny fraction of the edibles listed beyond the obvious fruits and vegetables, partly because he makes repeated reference to Japanese sansai. However he goes into a lot more detail than I have read here in Japan for a few, like udo, which I greatly appreciate. The notes on cooking and taste are also greatly appreciated so the reader has an inkling of an idea if it's a plant they might be interested in or not before making the dive and ordering seeds or seedlings from a country far away.

He also talks about selecting cultivars within the more common plants and their availability... which if I were in the UK I would really appreciate, but since I'm in Japan the applicability is questionable for me.

Nevertheless I find myself going back to the book and re-reading some sections over and over, getting inspired and considering how I can fit them into my own already overcrowded lot. To this end I really appreciate the organization of the plant listings. They are grouped based on where they fit into the garden, as opposed to a taxonomic or scientific grouping alone.

I have nothing bad to say about the book. Mostly just that I wish he lived in Japan and wrote the book for me personally! Selfish asides aside... I recommend this book to anyone interested in a forest garden, and especially to those living in similar growing climates as Aberdeen Scotland.

Edit to add: I also want to say I was a lucky winner that received this book as a part of Alan Carter's promotion here in Permies. Thanks again to everyone involved in the promotion!
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