Growing new ideas – from books

Confucius said: “You cannot open a book without learning something.” And that is why I recently indulged myself in my on-off quest to apply permaculture principles in our garden. I’ve been browsing through online sources (videos and websites), but after a while, you run out of new things to watch and read. So, since I had derived a lot of pleasure and inspiration from a book, The Permaculture Home Garden by Linda Woodrow, (which I wrote about here) I thought it was about time to look for more good books.

Linda’s book was a great place to start, and I still enjoy reading it because I like how she has applied permaculture principles to her garden, and it gives me hope to achieve this myself.

It was this that then drew me to the next book:

Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City
I thought this was written by a pair of gardening geeks, because I caught a video about them at the Geoff Lawton website, but it turned out that they are both very qualified permaculture experts. To my delight, the book was highly entertaining – the tale of the experiences of a pair of friends on a mutual quest to create their dream permaculture garden while hoping to find love along the way.

Why I chose this book:

  • It was recommended by several sources I came across on the Web (if there’s a queue, it must be good)
  • They built up their suburban garden into a permaculture paradise (one of my dreams, although the climate is different from ours)

The main author, Eric Toensmeier, is also a writer, and reading this book was a delight. It was entertaining and informative – more of a novel, so you should be an avid reader to enjoy this book. That said, there is a short, 8-page colour section of photos showing the development of the garden, the plants and harvests, and the people. The rest is black and white text.

What I got out of the book was that it’s possible to build up a productive edible garden even when you start with a small piece of not very fertile ground. Eric, together with his gardening buddy Jonathan Bates, applied their knowledge to develop a garden that would provide them with fruits and vegetables that could be harvested almost all year round. It was interesting to read about what, how and why they did things, and how the garden eventually became a productive place that pollinating insects and other fauna were attracted to – in essence, a natural habitat. This is something that we also see happening in our garden, what with the bees, garden lizards, various birds and creepy-crawlies. The only thing I’m missing are the two-hundred-and-something plants that they have – not that I aspire to grow that many varieties! However, I like the vision that they have – for more people to use the little land they have to grow their own fruits and veggies. Yes, we don’t have large gardens here (by overseas standards), but even the small strips of land by the roads can be, and in many neighbourhoods are, used for growing fruits like bananas and papayas, as well as flowers and herbs. Why not bring the Garden City up to a new level? We can dream, can’t we?

Stay tuned for more book reviews in the coming weeks…

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