Edible Forest Gardens (Anglais) Relié – 1 novembre 2005
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My only advice to a beginning reader would be to read the last part (conclusion) of vol 1 before and in between the various chapters in order to maintain motivation and interest in the overly theoretical- but necessarily so- parts of vol 1. That chapter really ties the theory together with your reasons of going into such details as are presented.I found in that chapter my "aha" moment.
Thanks to the authors for these wonderful and helpful books. Are worth their weight in gold- or rich moist forest humus!
I also found it for the most part very boring and even redundant. Based on some of the other reviews, other people seem to disagree with this. But to me in terms of excitement this book is just a shade above a technical manual (except the first section on "Vision," which I found very interesting)
And the thing is, you don't need to know everything in this book to start a forest garden. If you actually want to know what you need to know about making a forest garden, I highly recommend Martin Crawford's Creating a Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops. When I read that book, I realized that I already basically knew what I needed to know in order to actually get started and put plants in the ground. Before I read Crawford's book I felt almost hopelessly lost. I had only been reading Edible Forest Gardens, which makes creating a forest garden seem like a superhuman task. Martin Crawford's book puts it on a more human level. In the end, there really aren't that many really key points to consider in making a forest garden. And the rest is mostly practical common sense. (I'm oversimplifying here. . . there's a thousand different nuances to the theory, but in the end most of these nuances don't directly affect what you're going to put in the ground. They are intellectual candy).
OK. I've blasted the book enough. On to the praise.
I'm very glad to have this 2-volume set. The appendices of volume 1 and 2 are extremely valuable to anyone wanting to create a forest garden, and I personally think that it's worth the purchase price of these books just to get the appendices. The appendices to volume 2 contain all sorts of data about plant species you may want to put in your forest garden (though I've learned that if you really want to make certain about any particular stat, verify it with other sources if you can. . . it's not uncommon to get different data if you look at another source). That being said, it is by far the best compilation of data of its kind. It's an absolutely wonderful resource, and I'm sure it took a tremendous amount of tedious labor to create (I believe Eric Toensmeier is the one to thank there). I have yet to find a species I've been interested in planting in my forest garden that has not been in the appendices.
Also I absolutely love the appendix to volume 1, which is what the authors call the "Top 100" species for forest gardening. If you are new to forest gardening, you will love this. It goes into detail about all of these cool species you can plant, and it's useful later on as well since you can look to this list to find species which for the most part "play well" in the forest garden.
I do also enjoy browsing through the body of Volume 2 (the "practice" volume, as opposed the the "theory" of volume 1) to find material on specific topics of interest, but I would not recommend to anyone that they read it straight through. There's lots of interesting things to consider. It's more of a browsing book than a sit-down-and-read book (at least for me. . . I'm sure there are some out there who would disagree). It's almost like a reference manual, but not exactly.
There's a quote of Peter Bane that's on the back of the book which I find particularly apt in describing it. "This book will define the intellectual territory of it subject for at least a generation." If I knew how to italicize the word "intellectual" I would. I agree with this quote. It's a very important book on this subject, but it's very heady and is not really practical as a "how-to" kind of book, at least not for mere mortals like me. It's a great reference, and belongs on the shelf of any really serious forest gardener, but if you are looking for something that will tell you the basics of forest gardening and get you up and running and putting plants in the ground, this is not the book for you.
Jacke and Toensmeier lay out an incredible vision in Volume I for the potential that permaculture holds for gardeners in the northern US. And they lead the reader through an eye-opening education in the scientific theory which supports that vision. In Volume II, they walk the reader through the process of creating their own unique vision for the reader's own permaculture design. Then they lay out, step by step, how to progress from vision to reality.
Along the way, they range from the theoretical to the highly practical, from how many miles of fungal strands are in a teaspoon of soil from the forest floor, to exactly how to plant a tree so that it not only survives but thrives. And they do it in a voice which is both learned and whimsical, enthusiastic and serious -- and downright fun.
I'm buying a second set of these books. I need to keep one set with me as I build my garden; I learn new things every time I turn the page, knowledge I need on a "how to" level. But I need a second set, so that I can lend it to my friends who would get tremendous insight from reading these books...my order for my second set is going in today!
Full disclosure: I am a very pleased client of Dave Jacke's design practice.
For me, the most valuable aspects of this book are:
-the articulation of integrated design principles (so many good one's under one cover)
-the masterful graphics (who did them all?)
-the development and refining of new language for thinking about agro-ecosystems. E.g. they've taken out the word "invasive" and use the word "opportunist" instead; advancing our approach in this perennial challenge and contextualizing it in a more proper problem-solving/use-based approach, as opposed to the useless conservationist/alarmist approach that can't find the leverage.
-the case studies, although I wish there were more.
-The "top 100" plant list for temperate climates = awesome resource.
-the depth of research (which is fairly mind-blowing) including aspects such as cross sectional mapping of root systems, nutrient flows in agro-ecosystems, and much much more.
It is obvious why this book has taken many years to produce.
I am left with several confusions/questions. One is the name: "Forest" gardening. The authors show the differences between forest and woodland systems (as in % canopy cover) and are clearly explaining strategies for WOODLAND gardening with some light coming in through a partially open canopy. "Edible Woodland Gardening" would make more sense and the term Forest is a bit misleading. (This is not a book about mushroom cultivation, or understory crops alone). Maybe it's simply that woodland is a fairly unused term in the States.
Another frustration is in the case studies/examples. The case studies are few and examples of strategy applications are brief. They are also only from fairly warm-temperate sites: southern England, North Carolina, etc. I did not see any from New England, for instance, where both authors reside. Of course there are not an abundance of sites to use as examples, but there are many more than are shown. I wonder why the Bullock Bros. woodland garden in a temperate region of the US was not highlighted or referenced, for instance. I am hoping that Volume II has more of these case studies.
Overall an incredible work of research with an applied focus and a super useful source of ecological design principles that are crucial for any student in any field connected with biological landscape development.
Whole Systems Design, LLC
Moretown, Vermont, USA