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In my last post I introduced you to Michael Judd’s new book: Edible Landscaping With a PermacultureTwist.

When we look at the definition of permaculture we see design principles applied that are holistic. Basically this means all aspects of a landscape’s impact are considered such as: energy needs, climate, water, condition of soil, integrating plants, animals, buildings and humans who inhabit area too.

The Permaculture Institute states: ” Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how to build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more.”

Edible Landscaping gives the reader specific ideas and suggestions as well as tips that show us easy ways to attract and sustain wildlife, conserve water and build soil. These chapter sections incorporate permaculture concepts.

For example, Huglekultur ( p. 107) is an example of creating mounds with buried wood. Buried wood covered with soil and/or compost decomposes and creates a place for fungi to do their “thing”. This means fungi break down these substances and create fertile soil which means plants thrive. Plants can be grown on top of the mounds which is another advantage of using sticks and tree debris in a more useful manner. Michael recommends 6 foot high pile but smaller piles work well too.

When I visited his property he showed us a long pile of tree debris mounded, I’m guessing 4-5′ high by 15′ long. This pile started the previous year at 6 feet in height and now decomposition reduced the height to about 4-5 feet. He had planted vegetable and herbaceous plants which were growing all over the mound.

Several years ago I met a couple who owned a small cottage on a river. Their cottage was considerably higher in elevation than the river below. Therefore the property sloped down towards the river, at least 15+ acres. Over 20 years they created a border, on the right side of the property of tree debris mounded which became a wildlife habitat. Though they did not put soil on top, they had created a useful place to dump debris that eventually decomposed and contributed to soil growth as well as habitat.

I was impressed with the feeling of care in the managed forest in front of their home. The forest before us was pristine and  truly taken care of in a way not commonly seen in the woods we might have near our homes. These folks delighted in the exercise and enjoyed care taking their bit of forest in this way.

The only other time I saw a forest care taken like this was when I attended a basic skills week in Maine at a wilderness school. The owner deliberately kept part of the forest areas clean and showed us an unattended area. The difference was startling and not just aesthetically. Those of us who attended this week of classes felt a respect and co- creative effort with nature, again not commonly seen or taught.

Michael highlights the concept of Hugelkultu:r burying wood. topping with soil, growing plants which creates healthy soil and provides healthy nutrition to the plants. The next two examples, folks created mounds which kept the forest floor or wooded areas clean, built soil and provided habitat. Both offer more holistic ways of using forest and land space.

Last but not least I enjoyed seeing small fruit trees interspersed in his landscape. Michael has a chapter on “uncommon fruits”. He takes us beyond the common fruit trees such as apple and peach and proclaims kiwi, jujube, mulberry for example are relatively easy to grow. They add variety to our table and bring diversity to our landscape. He had figs, a kiwi trellised and persimmon. This chapter could give the seasoned gardener ideas and suggestions for adding variety.

One last note: for those of you who enjoy a whiskey sour or blackberry wine for example, recipes are included.  Michael is a mushroom grower and his book stresses the importance of fungi in our soil. Imagine: Maple Mushroom Martini!

I hope you enjoyed this review of an outstanding book that takes us into new ground, new ways to rethink our landscape, one that helps us to decrease lawn, to increase food and habitat for all species. Any mound builders out there? Share your photos, your ideas. Thanks.

Enjoy. Judith


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