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 January is ending. Catalogs are in. There’s still time to grab a book and read while the arctic weather keeps us inside. This book is beautifully photographed and illustrated with easy to follow instructions and inspirations for creating useful landscapes.

I am excited to share a review of this new book by Michael Judd.

His official title is : Edible Landscaping With A Permaculture Twist.

Michael has been working diligently to get this body of work to publication. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts I had the good fortune to attend an open house at Michael’s gardens where he highlighted many of the practices included in this easy to use guide. He showed us his mulching practices, swales, mounds and ovens, not to mention the variety of plants whether herbaceous or small tree fruits included in a landscape and of course mushrooms. I was impressed with how he used spaces that not only provided edible treats such as mints, herbs, and onions but how the use of dried stalks and other foliage and stones created habitats for the varied wildlife that supported his gardens. It was truly a holistic setup.

His table of contents demonstrates a topic fully photographed and illustrated often accompanied by tips and how to steps.

His chapter on Food Forests, for example, highlights using small spaces for small trees fruits and companion plants. I found myself intrigued in his use of small spaces such as 8′ x 8′.This space can be marked and then common materials such as cardboard, newsprint, various mulch, manure or composts (these are listed as suggestions) and even the option of adding fungi (fungi will naturally be produced when using the above materials) when layered produces black soil in a relatively short time. He gives a recipe that most gardeners can easily reproduce.

Our soils are being depleted at an alarming rate. I cannot say this enough. Soil is the life force of this planet. One rsz_judith_bio_shots_in_garden_008third of all topsoil on the earth is gone and only in the last 100 years. We have not seen anything like this for eons. The use of pesticides has been proven to chelate the minerals out of the soil. Therefore minerals are missing or depleted in the food grown. What are the health concerns we are seeing? Naturopathic physicians, licensed to practice medicine in some states, often see mineral deficiencies and treat accordingly.

Once this space is ready for planting Michael suggests we plant groups of perennial companions. In permaculture this is known as “guilds”. ( EL: p.65)

When we combine 4 or more plants with this structure in mind we can reduce pest and disease and increase soil fertility. Again these systems are supportive to the myriad of interconnections that take place to provide nourishment to and for each other and other species such as humans and can conserve water.

I have been involved in Master Gardener Programs in two states where the specific counties I lived in provided and maintained demonstration gardens. The folks who managed the compost bins are passionate and proud custodians of the soil they help create. Those of you who organically garden know what I mean. To hold this black earth in our hands is a treasure; to plant and nourish garden beds and then harvest and taste the food grown therein is a gift.

I’ll share more on my next blog. In the meantime I highly recommend this book for those of you interested in adding food to the landscape and a great garden reference book to your bookshelves.. In Michael’s words: “It’s a book to be carried out into the landscape, propped open with a rock, dog-eared, penciled in, smudged with dirty fingers, and pelted by the occasional rain.” 

Happy reading. Enjoy. Judith


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