I can’t explain how much I love this book.
The author, Michael Judd, sent me a copy and asked me to take a look at it. This kind of thing happens with some regularity, so I have this huge stack of books that are already in my “read and review” pile. I know if you’re a nerd like me, this sounds like the best possible problem in the world, but the truth is I feel terrible about just not having the time to tell the world about every book that comes over my desk.
So now I try to set realistic expectations when people tell me they want to send me a book. “I have kind of a long list of books to review, but sure, send it to me. No promises,” I told Michael.
What arrived was the best Permaculture book for true beginners I’ve yet seen. Edible Landscaping With A Permaculture Twist isn’t a definitive guide to permaculture. It doesn’t get poetic about the philosophy of multi-systems care that underlies a Permaculture system. It does not ask you to draw a complex schematic of your home topography before you take shovel to soil.
Instead, it provides clear, actionable techniques that you can use to bring some easy-care Permaculture style into your garden. You know how sometimes authors tell you too much and then you get kinda intimidated and don’t know where to begin? This happens a lot in Permaculture writing because Permaculture includes, like, everything. All the things get balanced and thoughtfully considered in a thriving Permaculture design.
How do you narrow “everything” down into something a beginner can really grok? How do you boil the the complexity of system-stacking and layering and watershed-style irrigation management and cooperative plant guild design and more into something that makes a beginner say, “hey, that looks fun! I can do that!”
This book has done it.
Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist managed to demystify things that have left me confused for years – like how and why to build swales on the contour of your ground and the big picture overview of what to stick together for a happy fruit tree guild.
For the Permacurious beginner like me, a giant table full of every possible nitrogen fixing shrub doesn’t actually help me to understand how to create my own successful guilds. A picture, a basic “recipe” and a list of a few proven guild companions to start with is just right.
This book is full of cheerfully presented but dead-useful advice, illustrations and photos that really help to clarify key Permaculture techniques and make that system of garden design seem eminently do-able at any scale. I really feel like Michael has managed to strip out everything that didn’t need to be in a practical Permaculture primer and capture everything that did.
I am currently planning to rework the perimeter beds around my patch of lawn (soon to be eco-lawn!) into something a little more food-foresty. The chapter on Uncommon Fruits has been so helpful – I feel like someone else has given me the cheat sheet of what to plant.
So, all in all, a great introduction to Permaculture techniques that will be especially useful to the beginning Permaculturist and folks (like me) who prefer a hands-on approach to learning and just want to jump in and see what happens.
This book will give you the info you need to jump into Permaculture successfully without bogging you down in details you probably don’t need to worry about yet (when it comes time to select that perfect nitrogen fixing shrub, the entire internet is there for you).
Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist has a fun, you-can-do-this tone and the book itself is of good production quality, with full-color printed, gloss pages throughout. The fact that there are periodic cocktail recipes in the book doesn’t hurt my estimation of it, either.
To give you an idea of what’s covered the book, it’s a easy-reading 143 pages long and covers herb spirals, rainwater harvesting, swales and rain gardens, growing specialty mushrooms, food forests, uncommon fruits, fruit tree care and pruning, grafting, hugelkultur, earthen ovens, how to make cob bricks, and a few thoughts on creating high-margin products from your edible landscape to make a homestead life more financially feasible.
Michael, the author, is offering up three free copies of his book to readers of NW Edible. To enter to win, go like the Edible Landscaping with A Permaculture Twist page on Facebook (they post all kinds of good info on useful plants).
Then, come back here and comment on this post. Tell me what you’re most interested to learn about edible landscaping or permaculture and confirm that you like the Edible Landscaping page on Facebook. If you hate Facebook and are a social media conscientious objector, that’s fine too, just let me know.
Fine print: Open to US residents only due to shipping costs. One entry per person, additional entires will be disqualified. Three winners will be chosen. Each winner will receive one copy of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist. Contest open until Wednesday, March 12th, 8 PM PST. Winners will be emailed and will have 24 hours to respond to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen.
If you are not a giveaway winner but want to get your hands on a copy of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist, it’s available on Amazon (check out those reviews! I’m not the only one who loves this book!) or directly from the author. If you buy from Michael, he’ll sign your copy of the book and you’ll get the warm fuzzies of knowing more of your money is going directly to the work’s creator.
All images except cover shot courtesy Michael Judd, used with permission.3
Liking the book on FB… and looking forward to learning more about gardening/landscaping in general, now that I have a yard to do it in!
This book looks like such a great resource. I’d be curious to learn more about edible landscaping in general, especially anything related to drought-tolerant plantings. I don’t “like” facebook, but I do like the sound of this book. Thanks for the interesting review.
Jeff Youngstrom says
I “liked” the facebook page.
I’d love to learn some relatively low-maintenance ways to introduce edibles into our landscaping. I love the idea of growing food, but am both lazy and intimidated by the practicalities.
Kitty Sharkey says
Liked their FB page. Love links to interesting and educational sites. I’ve worked to incorporate edibles in my front yard drought tolerant landscaping (elderberries, currents, edible flowers, etc), but I’m always looking for additional items to add that help diversify the homestead.
Thanks to you, I am trying a half-assed hugelkultur bed, even though my husband is super skeptical. I liked the facebook page not only because of this, but it looked like it had some great info too.
Thanks for telling me about this book. I’m not a big FB user, but I went on and “liked” it. I, too, am interested in permaculture, but I’m intimidated by all the technical stuff. Plus, I live on a small urban lot in Portland. I feel like all the images I see in permaculture books are of vast lots in the country or burbs. I’m intrigued by this book!
I want to learn more about fruit trees! I like edible landscaping Facebook page!
After liking this on facebook (and I like this more than just on facebook!) I raced back to comment here. My husband and I currently live in a condo in the city but are looking for a single family home, where we’re hoping to expand on our gardening efforts, and what a great way to expand further by incorporating our efforts into the landscaping as well! Sounds like this book would be a great resource to get started without being overwhelming. Fingers crossed!
Liked on FB!
I’ve been obsessively working my way through the local library’s selection of NW gardening/temperate gardening/food forest/organic gardening books (my next section is landscape design in general), and I’d love to get some more practically focused material. Books like Gaia’s Garden had some great info, but I caught myself skimming through pages where it side tracked into overly verbose descriptions and abstract exercises (it actually felt like reading some sort of literary garden porn trudging through pages long descriptions of desert/jungle food forests. Wonder if there’s a market for that). I’ve been itching to prove my thumbs aren’t as black as they seem, but it’s been a struggle picturing this super sustainable kickass food forest and coming back to the reality that I need to take baby steps. And I rent. And our entire yard is a clay encrusted soggy shade hole, with semi permanent lake puddles 6 months of the year.
Great post, and going to go back and look for other book reviews. I’ll take any excuse to hit up the local book pimp and/or bolster the home library.
Awesome book!! Spreading the permie word is so needed. OUr world is crazy, every little thing we do helps. permaculture just makes sense! Thank you, very generous!
brittany o says
this looks amazing! I would love to add this to our library!
I liked the FB page and would love to learn more about permaculture in an undaunting way. I’ve been edible gardening for several years but am ready to amp it up a bit without getting in over my head 🙂
Diane Y says
I just liked the page. I’m interested in this book because I’m not even a beginner yet. I’m just at that stage where I’m saying “what the heck is this permaculture thing? Sounds like this is a good place to start!
I “liked” the Facebook page, which looks just great. I’d most like to learn about permaculture for shady areas. I live in the Southeast woods with very little sun, and I’m starting to grow food for myself and some microlivestock. I’m hoping to put in shade-tolerant perennials such as understory trees and shrubs that will feed the humans and small animals. But where to start, and how to create collections of plants that do well together? Dealing with the shade, invasive weeds, and a gentle north slope is making my head spin. Great giveaway!
Sharon Canada says
I am most interested in learning about how I can make changes one step, one project at a time, to an already established landscape that wasn’t based on permaculture, to transform it into a healthier, more sustainable place . The books I’ve looked through seem to assume that one is starting with a blank slate without large, old specimens or other permanent features already in place.
Sharon Canada says
(and I just liked the page on facebook)
I like you them Facebook as Carolsue Anderson (MsCarolsueA)
I found this post really interesting — the medicinal part: Echinacea: The ultimate pollinator plant that pumps out flowers and feeds butterflies all summer long. Also medicinal, used to fight infections.
Intimidated by permaculture, yes that would be me. This sounds like a good place to start. I went over and liked them on FB.
Kate @ Short & Sweets says
I don’t really like things on FB, sorry. But I do want to know why herb spirals are a good idea!
Brittany S. says
I’m a firm believer in always leaving things in better condition that how I found them. I really believe that value is reflected in my gardening. I’ve read enough books, put in enough time, and accidentally eaten enough dirt, to now consider myself a novice gardener. And there’s still so much room to grow to further my knowledge in understanding the world around me! Regardless of whether or not I win this book, I will have it. Having read the comments, and your review, the book seems to contain knowledge that is both easily accessible and even “easier” to execute. I’m excited to enhance and hone my gardening skills to make my garden work, naturally, with and for me. It’s my hope to learn enough to be successful in my endeavors, to make each year more fruitful than the last while retaining and honoring the flow of nature. It’s my hope, that in my success , I can excite and inspire others to explore the rewards of self sufficiency in gardening!
Thank you again for the review! I’ve been a longtime “lurker” of your site and this is my first time commenting. Keep up the great work!
Brittany S. says
Oh! Also liked the page on Facebook 🙂
Liked on facebook. It’s a lot more satisfying to “like” something when it’s as charming as this book!
My sister studied green landscaping in college, but it’s taking a while to carve out the perfect career to benefit the environment and make the world a greener place. Establishing some permaculture in her own back yard will be a great place to start while she works on finding her niche in the larger earth-friendly landscaping scene. Either way, thanks for the book review!
I need this book! We’re starting our very first garden this year, and I’m an info hound. We are definitely interested in having our landscaping be functional as well as beautiful. I have been doing as much research as possible, but this book sounds like what I really need. I liked it on fb and hope to get info from there as well!
We are just starting our journey to being functional and useable. We’d love to have this book and this info! I liked it on FB and I’m looking forward to learning more 🙂 Thanks!!!
I liked the page on Facebook and must say I was quite impressed with the graphic on the page showing a major leap in page likes the day you posted this article!
I like to invest capital up front and watch my returns trickle in. Learning about great plants and landscaping techniques for permaculture will give me a blueprint to invest my time up front and with minimal continued time commitments reap my rewards moving forward.
I have recently retired and moved to 10 acres – on the side of a wooded mountain – which presents many challenges. I am raising chickens – for eggs and meat, and now rabbits. I want to start creating a sustainable permaculture – for me and my animals. I realize I will face some extra challenges due to my terrain and limited southern exposure. I am probably overly ambitious, as my knowledge base is minimal. So having guidance on how to do this right, and work smarter not harder would ensure I do not get frustrated and just give up. Knowing what is realistic for me to attempt, and what is not would be so valuable.
I love your blog! And I love the idea of a permiculture book that doesn’t overwhelm me. My goal in life is to never mow my lawn again. To do this I must replace the lawn with awesome edible and decorative plants. Since my thumb is brown at best, this is proving to be a very slow process. I’ll probably order this book if I don’t win it. I’m already inspired by some of the facebook posts? Oh yes, I liked the facebook page.
I tell ya, as a pre-beginner with a quasi-poential yard, I pretty much need to learn the extreme basics. And then everything else.
But first the basics.
Thanks for the opportunity to win! 🙂
I’m putting this on my list, let the permaculture education begin!
Lucy Soldati says
This book looks like just the thing I need for my small urban plot. I am very interested in permaculture and would love to use it to get a strong start. I am one of those conscientious objectors to Facebook, otherwise I’d give them and you a big “Like”. Thanks for all you do.
Shannon H Like Happy says
I am just beginning to dip my toe into research about permaculture. I have been very overwhelmed and haven’t known where to start, this is very useful. Thank you for the giveaway, I liked his page, and if I don’t win will probably buy the book. 🙂
I would love to win this book! Our yard, over the years has been overtaken with things to eat, which isn’t a bad thing 🙂 but would love to put it all together. My current love is herbs. My husband has done much in the way of vegetables and fruit trees and we are at a loss, haphazardly putting it in – how nice it would be to have some plan and how to’s along with being aesthetically pleasing!
I would “like” but I am one of those conscientious objectors to facebook. Thank you for the opportunity – much appreciated.
Hello, I would like to enter for the book giveaway. We recently moved to a new house and the yard needs a ton of work. It would be nice to do it right the first time!
Sorry but I’ve no account on facebook.
Growing food is my way of assuring I will eat healthy foods, its there so I cant let it go to waste. Would be interested in applying permaculture principles to my garden. Liked on FB.
My front yard is a barren landscape, but I can’t figure it out. I NEED this book!
My husband and I were trained by John Jeavons (bio-intensive farming/gardening), and then we tried applying these practices in Oregon. It’s taken some time, but we’re realizing that we should have put our money into Permaculture education! We’re living in the Willamette Valley- where there’s good soil and water. I’m having to re-learn my approach to farming and gardening and this book would be invaluable as we move forward. Great FB page – I more than like it!
I would SOOOO love to win this book!!! Upon “liking” Edible Landscaping with A Permaculture Twist my biggest complaint is that they don’t post to FB NEARLY enough!!! This is a book I want so badly that if I don’t win it (oh, PLEASE let me win it!!!) I might just have to break down and purchase it new (something I RARELY do). Crossing my fingers and hoping the universe sees fit to have me win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lori Cochran says
Now that the temps are hitting over 50 degrees, I just spent several hours outside to near exhaustion and keep looking at my “permie” style yard edge full of bramble and random ponderosa pine, 3 giant free chip piles left over from last year and can’t wait to get this book and get more ideas and inspiration. Thanks Erica and the Edible Landscaping FB page is an easy “like”.
Sarah Z says
Climate change has me thinking more about resiliency, and permaculture seems to have that built in. I want to incorporate permaculture concepts into my landscape, but have found it overwhelming, as you mentioned. This book sounds awesome and inspiring! I liked the page on FB, so please enter me in the drawing! Thank you!
I want to learn much more about the practical side of permaculture. Too often, for a beginner, the whole concept is unapproachable, as the literature makes it seem over-complicated, when it turns out, it really isn’t hard at all.
The more I get over my original irrational prejudice to permaculture (I think it stems from having first come across a couple of bad blog posts on the subject, and after hearing terms like “guilds” and not seeing explanations to them, nor good pictures or diagrams, I ended up labeling it as a bit of a “hippy” approach to gardening), the more I’m trying to adapt my own garden plans to utilize the good, and practical in permaculture principles.
I am not limited by a suburban or urban sized backyard lot, but I don’t want to squander the space, either (gotta make space for livestock!), and working towards making a garden that runs itself without constant tending (I’m pregnant, a stay-at-home wife, and going to have a newborn when our first harvest season on our acreage starts), so I have rekindled my interest for alternatives to what I remember from my grandpa’s vegetable acre in my childhood: Preparing the dry, spent soil, adding fertilizers, countless hours of weeding, helping him carry water into the garden during dry hot summer days, and lots of time fighting unwanted bugs with various chemical and non-chemical methods. I don’t want to feel like I’m toiling in a “labor camp” ever again.
Every time I look to permaculture and organic gardening methods, many are based upon water preservation, natural means of replenishing the soil, and every garden photo I see (except the aforementioned bad blog posts on the virtues of permaculture, where hugelkultur mounds in photos are never the lush, finished gardens in pictures, but dry piles of dirt and hay), from a gardener that follows organic gardening principles, they’re green, lush, and just make me want to dive in and explore.
Stephanie Tempest says
I am so ready to read this book! I just went and ‘liked’ their fb page. I bought Gaia’s Garden last year and it just wasn’t simplified enough for me; all the charts were really overwhelming. I’m more like you, just wanting to dig in the dirt, do some educated guessing and see how it turns out. I would really love to read the chapter on swales, especially since everyone seems to have a different opinion about their technique and usage. Also, cob bricks? Why didn’t I think about that before!? Genius.
The book sounds intriguing and more practical and hands-on. Gaia’s Garden is wonderful but a bit overwhelming with its content. I would love this book and have liked the FB page.
oh heck yeah – all over this book! Would loooove to see how it all comes together in a back yard and get inspired to do this at my place!
Have had the Facebook page liked for a while now – one of the few things I look for there anymore! I’m fascinated by hugelkultur beds – anything I can do to use up our livestock leftovers and avoid having compost hauled an hour out to our place has to be worth a try! This book is definitely on my wish list for 2014.
I’m pretty sure we’d use this until the pages fell out! My wife is eager to build a hugelkultur bed.
Natalie C says
I liked on FB and would be so excited to read and use this book. I’m interested in almost every aspect that you listed in your review. Thanks for the giveaway.
We bought a 1/3 acre property from an older couple who had planted primarily rose bushes and lavender. My dream is to turn it into a food producing, homesteading haven. I planted most of my fruit trees and berry bushes in the past 3 years but I need help with filling in the food forest. We still have a lot of lawn taking up valuable sunny space and, as it is just me freewheeling it, I need help coming up with some more permanent, tummy-filling, critter friendly, planet loving ideas. The book would be great, the FB page will likely provide lots of helpful tips. Thanks.
Liked the page on FB! I have nearly an acre in a suburban neighborhood, and I have to balance my interest in edible landscaping, permaculture, no-till gardening, composting, etc. with maintaining a similar aesthetic with the rest of my neighborhood. It’s a struggle and few gardening authors address that.
tracy robinson says
liked on facebook…. anything having to do with using the earth to feed our bodies is knowledge that should be learned… thank you!
Even if I dont win the book I already am a winner by being directed to the Edible Landscape page 🙂 Due to having a tiny lot Ive been trying to ensure everything I plant is edible and/or useful. We finally got rain a couple weeks ago & a friend tilled my front yard. Im still cleaning out weeds & roots but hopefully I will be able to plant soon & Ive been grasping for info on how to & what to … this is going to be year 2 for me gardening (started last February in an attempt to keep sane while being unemployed & my son was deployed) We ate and/or shared just about everything (broccoli bolted grrr) Im looking forward to this year 🙂
Jackie Isler says
I need help in learning what plants are grouped together to benefit each other….