My husband may be wishing that I had never requested a review copy of Edible Landscaping With a Permaculture Twist because it was so inspiring that I have all sorts of plans for our flood-prone front yard, which means more work for him. I’ve read a few books on permaculture in the past, but none got me as fired up as this one. Maybe it’s because he focused on landscaping. Being the practical person that I am, I never would have wanted to read this book if it did not have the word “edible” in the title, even though I’ve been frustrated for years with our front yard.
The book doesn’t contain a ton of new ideas, but the strength of this book lies in the packaging of the information. When reading permaculture books in the past, it never occurred to me that they could solve our landscaping problems. Frankly, I didn’t feel like I had time to even think about our landscaping problems because I have food to grow, goats to milk, soap to make, and other important stuff. Landscaping is for suburbanites who don’t have a real life. Well, maybe not!
The really cool thing about author Michael Judd is that he works with lots of suburbanites who are interested in creating edible landscape. And when you look at the beautiful pictures in the book, you can see that you would not have neighbors complaining about your “vegetable garden” if you used his techniques. His designs could stand up to scrutiny in the snazziest neighborhoods, even though they are incredibly practical and sustainable.
The first thing that got me excited was in chapter 2 when he gives plans for what he calls a starter swale. Swales are used to catch water that is then stored in the ground and consumed by plants as needed. But most permaculture books just show you the big, long swales that look like you’d need heavy equipment to build. A starter swale, however, can easily be done by the average person. If you have a downspout on your house, this can work for you! About ten to fifteen feet from the downspout on your house, dig a trench that’s five or six feet long and shaped like a smiley face so that it catches the rain from the downspout. The dirt that you dig out goes on the bottom of the smiley face, and that will be a natural raised bed where you plant whatever you want to grow. Judd predicts that after you see how well it works as a self-watering bed, you’ll be creating another and another.
The book also contains chapters on how to create an herb spiral, growing mushrooms, food forests, unusual fruits that work well in a permaculture landscape, hugelkultur, and building earthen ovens. At less than 150 pages with lots of beautiful photos and drawings, it’s a quick read.