Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City
When Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates moved into a duplex in a run-down part of Holyoke, Massachusetts, the tenth-of-an-acre lot was barren ground and bad soil, peppered with broken pieces of concrete, asphalt, and brick. The two friends got to work designing what would become not just another urban farm, but a “permaculture paradise” replete with perennial broccoli, paw paws, bananas, and moringa—all told, more than two hundred low-maintenance edible plants in an innovative food forest on a small city lot. The garden—intended to function like a natural ecosystem with the plants themselves providing most of the garden’s needs for fertility, pest control, and weed suppression—also features an edible water garden, a year-round unheated greenhouse, tropical crops, urban poultry, and even silkworms.
In telling the story of Paradise Lot, Toensmeier explains the principles and practices of permaculture, the choice of exotic and unusual food plants, the techniques of design and cultivation, and, of course, the adventures, mistakes, and do-overs in the process. Packed full of detailed, useful information about designing a highly productive permaculture garden, Paradise Lot is also a funny and charming story of two single guys, both plant nerds, with a wild plan: to realize the garden of their dreams and meet women to share it with. Amazingly, on both counts, they succeed.
A Chronicle of Death, Life, and Vegetables
Michael Pollan calls her one of his food heroes. Barbara Kingsolver credits her with shaping the history and politics of food in the United States. And countless others who have vied for a food revolution, pushed organics, and reawakened Americans to growing their own food and eating locally consider her both teacher and muse.Joan Gussow has influenced thousands through her books, This Organic Life and The Feeding Web, her lectures, and the simple fact that she lives what she preaches. Now in her eighties, she stops once more to pass along some wisdom-surprising, inspiring, and controversial-via the pen.
Gussow’s memoir Growing, Older begins when she loses her husband of 40 years to cancer and, two weeks later, finds herself skipping down the street-much to her alarm. Why wasn’t she grieving in all the normal ways? With humor and wit, she explains how she stopped worrying about why she was smiling and went on worrying, instead, and as she always has, about the possibility that the world around her was headed off a cliff. But hers is not a tale, or message, of gloom. Rather it is an affirmation of a life’s work-and work in general.
Lacking a partner’s assistance, Gussow continued the hard labor of growing her own year-round diet. She dealt single-handedly with a rising tidal river that regularly drowned her garden, with muskrat interlopers, broken appliances, bodily decay, and river trash-all the while bucking popular notions of how “an elderly widowed woman” ought to behave.
Scattered throughout are urgent suggestions about what growing older on a changing planet will call on all of us to do: learn self-reliance and self-restraint, yield graciously if not always happily to necessity, and-since there is no other choice-come to terms with the insistencies of the natural world. Gussow delivers another literary gem-one that women curious about aging, gardeners curious about contending with increasingly intense weather, or environmentalists curious about the future will embrace.
Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long, 2nd Edition
If you love the joys of eating home-garden vegetables but always thought those joys had to stop at the end of summer, this book is for you. Eliot Coleman introduces the surprising fact that most of the United States has more winter sunshine than the south of France. He shows how North American gardeners can successfully use that sun to raise a wide variety of traditional winter vegetables in backyard cold frames and plastic covered tunnel greenhouses without supplementary heat. Coleman expands upon his own experiences with new ideas learned on a winter-vegetable pilgrimage across the ocean to the acknowledged kingdom of vegetable cuisine, the southern part of France, which lies on the 44th parallel, the same latitude as his farm in Maine.
This story of sunshine, weather patterns, old limitations and expectations, and new realities is delightfully innovative in the best gardening tradition. Four-Season Harvest will have you feasting on fresh produce from your garden all through the winter.
To learn more about the possibility of a four-season farm, please visit Coleman’s website www.fourseasonfarm.com.
The Resilient Gardener
Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times
Scientist/gardener Carol Deppe combines her passion for organic gardening with newly emerging scientific information from many fields — resilience science, climatology, climate change, ecology, anthropology, paleontology, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, health, and medicine. In the last half of The Resilient Gardener, Deppe extends and illustrates these principles with detailed information about growing and using five key crops: potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs.
In this book you’ll learn how to:
•Garden in an era of unpredictable weather and climate change
•Grow, store, and use more of your own staple crops
•Garden efficiently and comfortably (even if you have a bad back)
•Grow, store, and cook different varieties of potatoes and save your own potato seed
•Grow the right varieties of corn to make your own gourmet-quality fast-cooking polenta, cornbread, parched corn, corn cakes, pancakes and even savory corn gravy
•Make whole-grain, corn-based breads and cakes using the author’s original gluten-free recipes involving no other grains, artificial binders, or dairy products
•Grow and use popbeans and other grain legumes
•Grow, store, and use summer, winter, and drying squash
•Keep a home laying flock of ducks or chickens; integrate them with your gardening, and grow most of their feed.
The Resilient Gardener is both a conceptual and a hands-on organic gardening book, and is suitable for vegetable gardeners at all levels of experience. Resilience here is broadly conceived and encompasses a full range of problems, from personal hard times such as injuries, family crises, financial problems, health problems, and special dietary needs (gluten intolerance, food allergies, carbohydrate sensitivity, and a need for weight control) to serious regional and global disasters and climate change. It is a supremely optimistic as well as realistic book about how resilient gardeners and their vegetable gardens can flourish even in challenging times and help their communities to survive and thrive through everything that comes their way — from tomorrow through the next thousand years. Organic gardening, vegetable gardening, self-sufficiency, subsistence gardening, gluten-free living.
Compost, Vermicompost and Compost Tea
Feeding the Soil on the Organic Farm
Part of the NOFA Guides series.
Information on composting techniques, including:
- Principles and biology of composting
- Temperature, aeration and moisture control
- Composting methods
- Materials (additives and inoculants, biodynamic preparations)
- About costs (site preparation, equipment, labor and time)
- What do you do with it?
- Compost tea and other brewed microbial cultures
- Compost and the law
With extended appendices including a recipe calculator, potting mix recipes, and a sample compost production budget sheet.
Old Southern Apples
A Comprehensive History and Description of Varieties for Collectors, Growers, and Fruit Enthusiasts, 2nd Edition
A book that became an instant classic when it first appeared in 1995, Old Southern Apples is an indispensable reference for fruit lovers everywhere, especially those who live in the southern United States. Out of print for several years, this newly revised and expanded edition now features descriptions of some 1,800 apple varieties that either originated in the South or were widely grown there before 1928.
Author Lee Calhoun is one of the foremost figures in apple conservation in America. This masterwork reflects his knowledge and personal experience over more than thirty years, as he sought out and grew hundreds of classic apples, including both legendary varieties (like Nickajack and Magnum Bonum) and little-known ones (like Buff and Cullasaga). Representing our common orchard heritage, many of these apples are today at risk of disappearing from our national table.
Illustrated with more than 120 color images of classic apples from the National Agricultural Library’s collection of watercolor paintings, Old Southern Apples is a fascinating and beautiful reference and gift book. In addition to A-to-Z descriptions of apple varieties, both extant and extinct, Calhoun provides a brief history of apple culture in the South, and includes practical information on growing apples and on their traditional uses.
Organic Soil-Fertility and Weed Management
Soil is a living organism that loves to cooperate with farmers and gardeners. A green thumb will appear on those who align themselves with its health and requirements. This book discusses:
- Soil habitat
- Sustaining soil fertility
- The soil food-web
- Nutrient availability and deficiency
After reading this book, readers will not only have a different view on soil, but on weeds as well. Knowing and utilizing the energies and characteristics of weeds, as Gilman teaches, will make for a more productive garden, and less stressful gardening.
Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties
The Gardener’s and Farmer’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving, 2nd Edition
All gardeners and farmers should be plant breeders, says author Carol Deppe. Developing new vegetable varieties doesn’t require a specialized education, a lot of land, or even a lot of time. It can be done on any scale. It’s enjoyable. It’s deeply rewarding. You can get useful new varieties much faster than you might suppose. And you can eat your mistakes.
Authoritative and easy-to-understand, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener’s and Farmer’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving is the only guide to plant breeding and seed saving for the serious home gardener and the small-scale farmer or commercial grower. Discover:
- how to breed for a wide range of different traits (flavor, size, shape, or color; cold or heat tolerance; pest and disease resistance; and regional adaptation)
- how to save seed and maintain varieties
- how to conduct your own variety trials and other farm- or garden-based research
- how to breed for performance under organic or sustainable growing methods
In this one-size-fits-all world of multinational seed companies, plant patents, and biotech monopolies, more and more gardeners and farmers are recognizing that they need to “take back their seeds.” They need to save more of their own seed, grow and maintain the best traditional and regional varieties, and develop more of their own unique new varieties. Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener’s and Farmer’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving shows the way, and offers an exciting introduction to a whole new gardening adventure.
A No-Stress Philosophy for All Senses and All Seasons
Thanks to the resurgence of home and community gardening, more and more people are discovering the pleasure of biting into a sun-ripened tomato picked right off the vine, the earthy smell of freshly turned soil, and the cheerful harbingers of spring such as daffodils, irises, and pansies. But they are also discovering that gardening can be a heck of a lot of work. So what happens when keeping up with the weeds turns into a full-time job? What do you do when gardening becomes stressful?
Slow Gardening to the rescue! Inspired by Slow Food, an international movement that promotes local food systems and biological and cultural diversity, the slow-gardening approach can help us all appreciate and enjoy our gardens more, year in and year out.Felder Rushing, a well-known and truly one-of-a-kind garden expert, offers this practical yet philosophical approach to gardening – one that will help you slow down, take stock of your yard, and follow your own creative whimsy in the garden.
Slow Gardening will inspire you to slip into the rhythm of the seasons, take it easy, and get more enjoyment out of your garden, all at the same time.
The Soul of Soil
A Soil-Building Guide for Master Gardeners and Farmers, 4th Edition
Soil is the basis not only for all gardening, but for all terrestrial life. No aspect of agriculture is more fundamental and important, yet we have been losing vast quantities of our finite soil resources to erosion, pollution, and development.
Now back in print, this eminently sensible and wonderfully well-focused book provides essential information about one of the most significant challenges for those attempting to grow delicious organic vegetables: the creation and maintenance of healthy soil.
Chapter 2, “Understanding the Soil System,” is alone worth the price of admission. Gershuny and Smillie give lay readers and experts a clear explanation of subjects–soil life and nutrient cycles–that have confounded most authors. Nowhere will the reader find simpler and more coherent descriptions of key concepts including cation exchange capacity and chelation.
There are other books about soil available, including Grace Gershuny’s comprehensive Start with the Soil, and there are books that feature chapters on soil building. What distinguishes The Soil of Soilis the authors’ concise presentation; they give readers important information, including technical essentials, without getting bogged down in scientific or quasiscientific mumbo-jumbo. In addition, useful tables list specific compost materials, green manures, and other resources that allow growers to translate into action the more general information provided by the book.
The soil-building techniques featured include:
- Organic matter management
- Building and maintaining humus
- On-site composting
- Green manures and rotations
- Cultivation and weed control
- Nutrient balances and soil testing
- Using mineral fertilizers
- Planning for organic certification
Updates to the 1999 edition include analysis of Proposed Rules for the National Organic Standards, and expanded recommendations for private testing services and soil-testing equipment for home gardeners and organic farmers.
All of us involved in the cultivation of plants–from the backyard gardener to the largest farmer–need to help regenerate a “living soil,” for only in the diversity of the soil and its creatures can we ensure the long-term health of ourselves and our environment. The Soul of Soil offers everyone a basic understanding of what soil is and what we can do to improve our own patch of it. Seen in this light, this practical handbook will be an inspiration as well.
Growing Healthy Vegetable Crops
Working with Nature to Control Diseases and Pests Organically
Part of the NOFA Guides. Includes information on:
- Basic concepts of pest control (host susceptibility, soil health, genetic resistance, ecosystem factors)
- Practical approaches (crop cultural practices, rescue treatments, special section on mammals and birds, food safety)
- Farm design for pest reduction (diversity, crop rotation)
- Unorthodox approaches (farmers out of the box)
- Identifying pests
- Crop-by-crop pests and practices
The Permaculture Way
Practical Steps to Create a Self-Sustaining World
The Permaculture Way shows us how to consciously design a lifestyle which is low in environmental impact and highly productive. It demonstrates how to meet our needs, make the most of resources by minimizing waste and maximizing potential, and still leave the Earth richer than we found it.
Year-Round Vegetable Production with Eliot Coleman (DVD)
This filmed workshop on year-round vegetable production offers farmers and gardeners the rare chance to sit in with Eliot Coleman, one of the pioneers of the organic farming movement and author of The New Organic Grower, Four-Season Harvest, and The Winter Harvest Handbook.During his careers as commercial market gardener, director of agricultural research projects, developer of tools for organic growers, and teacher and lecturer on organic gardening, Coleman has studied, practiced, and perfected his craft, and while you can bring Coleman’s books with you into your garden, there’s nothing like getting the advice straight from the man himself. Included in the DVD:
- The history of season-extension farming in Europe
- Information on moveable greenhouses and using fabric covers
- Growing tips in terms of nutrition and marketability
- Rodent control
- Curing and packing using sustainable materials
- How to work with restaurants and chefs (and create a demand)
- Information on tools, soil health, and vegetable varieties that survive well in the cold
- Additional photos, diagrams, and climate maps
And more…Experience a workshop with bestselling author and expert in season extension, based on a filmed daylong workshop and extensive interview. Complete with a slide show, images from Coleman’s own farm over the years, his travels to Europe, and detailed plans for his model of season extension, this film is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sit down with a master.
A Selection, 2nd Edition
This is an easy-to-use guide to selecting hundreds of perennial species. It is indispensable for growers and designers working in subtropical and warm temperate/arid climates, and also includes some cool-climate tolerant species. Permaculture Plants: A Selection details hundreds of common and unusual edible, medicinal, and useful plants.
Organic Seed Production and Saving
The Wisdom of Plant Heritage
Part of the NOFA guides. Includes information on:
- Strengths and limitations of hybrid varieties
- Before you grow the seed (selecting varieties, saving seed and improving crops, intellectual property rights)
- Growing seed (pollination biology, harvesting, cleaning, storage, germination testing)
- Details on individual crops (amaranth, crucifers, beets and chard, lettuce, cucurbits, corn and small grains, nightshades, root veggies)
Plus detailed appendices including more info on seed cleaning, seed companies, and more.
Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (DVD)
Imagine growing vegetables that require just about the same amount of care as perennial flowers and shrubs, need no annual tilling or planting, yet thrive and produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season.
In this DVD—a culmination of workshops recorded in Mexico, Florida, and Massachusetts—plant specialist Eric Toensmeier introduces gardeners to more than 100 species of little-known, underappreciated plants. Ranging beyond the usual suspects (asparagus, rhubarb, and artichoke) to include such delights as ground cherry, ramps, air potatoes, the fragrant spring tree, and the much-sought-after, antioxidant-rich wolfberry (also known as the goji berry), Toensmeier explains how to raise, tend, harvest, and cook with plants that yield great crops and culinary satisfaction. Toensmeier also takes viewers on a plant-by-plant tour of his garden in Massachusetts.
In Toensmeier’s book, Perennial Vegetables (Chelsea Green, 2007), the adventurous gardener will find information, tips, and sound advice on less-common edibles that will make any garden a perpetual, low-maintenance source of food. In his book, readers will find perennial vegetables are perfect as part of an edible-landscape plan or permaculture garden. Profiling more than a hundred species, with dozens of color photographs and illustrations, and filled with valuable growing tips, recipes, and resources, Perennial Vegetables is a groundbreaking and ground-healing book that will open the eyes of gardeners everywhere to the exciting world of edible perennials.