Firstly I would like to offer my help with advice or support or in practical ways like seed and plant sharing or swapping. I generally only use a fraction of the seeds in a packet and am more than happy to swap and share these invaluable goodies in order to get them better known and more widely grown. I am not putting any lists on here as they would be hard to keep up to date, but if you are looking for something why not get in touch to see if I have spares? Although I have been sowing out dated packets for my own use I would only send in date seeds to fellow gardeners.
In no particular order these are the most useful books I have read on permaculture, forest gardens, polycultures and related topics:
- Creating a Forest Garden, Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops by Martin Crawford of the Agroforestry Research Trust, published by Green Books 2010. A superb guide to designing and growing a forest garden in the temperate world. Martin has vast experience and knowledge, this is a very practical and well thought out book.
- Edible Forest Gardens Volume One Vision and Theory and Volume Two Design and Practice by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier, published by Chelsea Green 2005. Extraordinarily detailed reference guides on everything theoretical you could wish to know about theory, ecology and design of temperate forest gardens. Not for everyone but if you like detailed information these are highly recommended.
- How to Make a Forest Garden by Patrick Whitefield, published by Permanent Publications in 1996. This is a shorter book which gets straight to the point of planning and establishing a forest garden and covers a lot of ground in a short space.
- Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier published by Chelsea Green in 2007. This is focussed on the perennials that will grow in the United States and therefore is of limited application to the UK and other temperate countries. Nevertheless it is a very comprehensive, meticulously detailed and informative guide.
- The Edible Garden, How to have your garden and eat it by Alys Fowler published by BBC Books in 2010. This is a marvellously enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide to polycultures of vegetables and flowers with an emphasis on both productivity and beauty. Most of the vegetables featured are annuals but she does use some perennials. A lovely book.
- Gaia’s Garden, A guide to homescale permaculture by Toby Hemenway published by Chelsea Green 2000. An enduring manual on permaculture which focusses throughout on building ecological diversity and features growing polycultures, forest gardens, perennial vegetables.
- The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka published by New York Review Books in 2009. This is a classic. Fukuoka describes his life, his philosophy and his experiences of what he termed “natural farming”. Set in post war Japan it is of its time but also timeless. The methods are particular to the locality, the philosophy is applicable the world over. Inspirational and highly recommended.
- Mycelium Running How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets, published by Ten Speed Press in 2005. Paul Stamets is a guru of the mushroom world. This book is impressive and does what it says on the cover. I hope one day to have some time in order to explore the ideas further. Mushroom growing under natural conditions integrates perfectly with permaculture and forest gardening.
- Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture, A Practical Guide for Farmers, Smallholders and Gardeners by Sepp Holzer. Published in the UK by Permanent Publications 2010. Sepp Holzer is another inspirational man who from a young age practised what he later found out to be known as permaculture. He has developed extraordinary methods to produce an exceptional range of crops on an Austrian mountainside alongside massive monocultures of spruce. Some of the methods are transferable to other locations but the whole book is inspirational and bound to make you think differently about your own garden or plot.