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Gaia's Garden- a Review

Updated on May 1, 2011

Gaia's Garden

Toby Hemenway’s newly revised book Gaia’s Garden- A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture is not your average gardening guide.

It will help you grow healthy vegetables, however, the step-by-step manual does much more than that.

So if you are only seeking to maintain a small kitchen garden and that is a great idea borrow a copy of Hemenway’s book from your public library and carefully read the first five chapters. Keep a pen and notebooks handy. You will find much that you can use and need to know to be a successful gardener.

But, if you are looking to enhance your family’s ability to feed itself and increase your personal food security, consider obtaining your own copy and read the book from cover-to-cover.

For people who are city dwellers, the Second edition provides information on how to use permaculture design techniques to build your urban garden. Chapter 11, Permaculture Gardening in the City addresses the issues that are common among many urban gardeners; too little space and intense traffic and usage.

Permaculture design embraces the concept of the multifunctional space and the urban yard can certainly have many uses from playground to dining area to a place for the family dog to romp.

This chapter explores the positive side of what our urban centers have to offer and that is the social capital or as the author says:

the synergies and opportunities generated by creative people working together. P230.

Your urban home may have a small backyard and your first impression is that you will not be able to grow as much food as you want, no matter how creative your garden design is. However, you do have neighbours and it is possible that they are interested in growing their own food but are worried about the same space restrictions you are.

If you are intrigued by the possibilities cooperation among neighbours offers when it comes to growing food then you need to read the rest of the chapter.

Perhaps the most important contribution Hemenway’s books both the original Gaia’s Garden and the 2nd edition make is to help people make the transition from consumers to producers as least as far as food is concerned. You will still need to purchase other items and that is fine, try to buy local when you can and let your money work towards building a strong local economy.

When it comes to food, the city dweller will need to supplement what is grown by buying in the marketplace, let that marketplace be a farmers market, local merchant or direct from the farm when possible.

Gaia’s Garden will teach you how to:

1- Build and maintain soil fertility

2- Catch and conserve water

3- Provide habitat for beneficial insects, birds and animals

4- Grow an edible forest.

You can change your backyard ecosystem into a bountiful and healthy space by working with Nature rather than fighting her.

It does not matter how big your garden is; you can apply basic permaculture principles to make it more diverse, more natural, more productive and more beautiful.


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  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    I agree, it is a useful book, thanks for dropping by.

  • kerryg profile image

    kerryg 8 years ago from USA

    I haven't looked at the second edition yet, but the first was one of the best $20 I've ever spent!

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    It is sad that people are disconnected from their food's source. Thanks for dropping by.

  • profile image

    Nelle Hoxie 8 years ago

    I own the earlier edition and have found it very helpful. I love raising my own fruits and vegetables. When people visit for a summer dinner, they are fascinated to see where their salad grew! It makes me a little sad that they are so excited to see how a cucumber or pepper grows.