In this book, the author takes the reader step by step into the creation of a forest garden in a cool/cold temperate climate, so to gain the "maximum output for minimum labour". The author traces the path we have to follow for creating a food producing garden mimicking the ecological principles of a natural woodland. Highly practical and inspiring, the book starts from the basics of design, spacing, up to the choice of the plants, the rootstocks used for fruittrees, etc. This book is nearly a classic in forest garden design, the first edition is of 1996 when very little was published on this subject, surely not in such a complete way. We are at the revised reprint of the third edition, and the text is always great. Other more comprehensive works have been published, like Edible Forest Gardens, by Jacke and Toensmeier, but nonetheless this work is still very unique.
A lot of information is shared with great clarity, as for example the information on how nitrogen fixing plants actually function. There are the details of over one hundred plants, from apples to mushrooms, a comprehensive account of perennial and self-seeding vegetables, up to what yield we can expect from single fruit or nut tree species.
Patrick is one of my most loved authors. And reading this book was great. Yes it is less deep and shiny than other books on the subject, but it nonetheless holds a great position in my shelf.
Edible forest gardens by Jacke and Toensmeier, or Martin Crawfords work are great tecnical resources can't be denied but Patrick's work here has a clearness a practicality that is incredible. Simple in its layout and explanation of the ways to design and think of our forest gardens, it is made for a small backyard project or a more professional layout. I think what Patrick did in this book is write down his personal notes on the subject, probably all tried out and decide then to publish it all.
The way the book is written reminds me of the earth care manual, and this book could be one of its chapters after all.
The book starts with the description of what a forest garden is, to pass then to analysis of every aspect of a forst garden, from soil to climate, and plant specifics. the last chapter is about putting it all on paper and designing an actual forest garden, as the author puts it, it is a step by step guide and an actual example of implementation.
Nice boxed information is scattered throughout the book to focus on specific topics. I've always loved the way Patrick explains nitrogen fixing, clear useful and not mythical, practical.
The reader will not find the seven layers of a forest garden like in other books, Patrick is very straightforward and doesn't leave space to complicated and contorted explanations, don't know how to put it, he just takes it down to simple. He speaks of trees, shrubs, vegetables and then adds a fourth layer that is the vertical one.
Yes may this be out of line with orthodox design in forest gardens? yes; does something actually change, no. Patrick teachs us in his work to think, reason about things, not learn of by heart.
One thing I loved of the book is the info on how much a fruit plant can produce, yes I know the data is completely useles in some ways because it depends on climate, soil, age of the plant, even rootstock, but I still found it interesting to have an estimate that i keep in mind with a very nondogmatic view.
I think this book has another strong significance for the fact it is actually after Hart's book on forest gardens probably the first written specific work on the the subject. Since I am a book geek (can one say this?) I love to search the history of books and the publishing story, what edition we are at, etc. This book was first published in 1996 and from then it has done a long journey, it will sit close to my Jacke and Crawford books on forest gardens, and will be looked upon as the big sister of all.
This book is indicated for those that live in cool/cold temperate climates and want to read a quick good book on the subject of forest gardening. Before buying other more costly and enciclopedic works one can start from here.
This book has a very, very special place in my heart. It was the first gardening book I bought when I got my first piece of land in Wales. It was also my introduction not only to forest gardening but to permaculture as a whole, and to Maddy Harland, Robert Hart and to Patrick Whitefield himself. I think it's safe to say that this book changed my life...
Everything in this book resonated with me at a deep level, and opened my eyes to a whole new way of interacting with the land. The only downside, looking back, was that it was written from a very UK-centric viewpoint, and I never realised until after I emigrated how much of what I learned could be applied to other climates. When I sold my land, I gave my copy of the book to the girls who bought the land in the hope that they would learn to care for it as I would have done myself. I don't regret the decision to part with it, but when Permanent Publications put all their e-books on sale to celebrate the International Permaculture Convergence in London I took the opportunity to fill the little void left in me by the book's absence by replacing it with an electronic version, along with a whole load of other books that really deserved a place alongside it.
It's a much shorter, easier read than the two volume set Edible Forest Gardens with 180 pages that guide you gently yet deeply into the world of the forest garden. If you have any interest in the subject at all, I'd heartily recommend this book to guide you into the subject. Green Shopping has a sample chapter available as a pdf download if you go to their ebook page - just go and download it and I'm sure you'll agree it's a beautiful read.
CHAPTER 1 Why Grow a Forest Garden? Introducing the main themes of forest gardening.
A natural way of gardening. Yield of food.
How a forest garden works. What kind of food?
The easy life. Other benefits. Home garden or
CHAPTER 2 The Forest Garden Community. The main components of a forest garden – trees, shrubs
and vegetables – their size, shape and structure. The layers. The tree layer. The shrub layer.
The vegetable layer.
CHAPTER 3 Putting Things Together. The principles of forest garden design – putting the
components together so they work harmoniously in
relation to each other and their environment. The land and the people. Light and shade.
Access. Co-operation and competition. Succession.
Microclimate. Soil. Models.
CHAPTER 4 Home-Grown Resources. Some extra components to consider at the design stage. Plant nutrients. Mulch material. Water.
Pest and weed control.
CHAPTER 5 Preparation, Planting and Maintenance. Mulching. Preparation. Planting. Maintenance.
CHAPTER 6 Choosing Plants. How to select plants and varieties to suit you and
your garden. Climate, microclimate and soil. Choosing vegetables.
Choosing fruit varieties.
CHAPTER 7 The Trees. The obvious ones. The less obvious ones.
The doubtful ones.
CHAPTER 8 The Shrubs. The obvious ones. The less obvious ones.
Growing a native shrubbery.
CHAPTER 9 The Vegetables. Greens. Salads. Others.
CHAPTER 10 Designing a Forest Garden.
The practical process – a step-by-step guide, and an
actual example. Collecting information. Recording. Evaluation.
Design. A sample design: Tricia’s garden.