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This has been my main source for learning about permaculture, and it's been a trustworthy guide all along. The information is clearly presented and easy to understand, and Hemenway includes just the right amount of biology/ecology background to satisfy my taste for trivia and to help make the specific planting advice make sense. I like that Hemenway doesn't take himself or the methods too seriously--he's happy to admit that he cuts corners occasionally when doing so won't lead to any harm. The point, of course, is to have a productive garden that you ENJOY, rather than one that squeezing the productivity out through brute force.
I was fascinated with this book. It's a book that explains and shows how to apply some of the basic ideas of permaculture (sustainable gardening). A lot of the ideas here, however, really aren't as new as permaculture advocates seem to think. My grandmothers were both of them relatively poor but loved flower gardening. They couldn't afford pesticides or fertilizers or weed killer. One grandmother lived in a house with a well and often couldn't water her garden during dry summers (because of the risk of running out of water completely). So, ideas like crush planting, using plants that fit the culture of each microclimate in the garden, and making every plant serve multiple purposes were tactics that my grandmothers used 40 or 50 years ago. But I'm glad to see these ideas coming back. Gaia's Garden is a really thoughtful, helpful book for conceptualizing how a person might use permaculture's ideas in a home garden. It's focused on the western U.S., but its ideas can certainly be adapted to the East. I don't necessarily pull Gaia's Garden off my bookshelf very often to look things up in it, but I wouldn't be the same gardener if I hadn't read it.
I absolutely LOVE this book. It has so many good ideas - I plan on installing the spiral herb garden, using the sheet mulching, and hopefully, eventually installing a greywater recycling system. I highly recommend it.
This book describes how you can have an ecological garden. I have read other permaculture books and have found this one to be the best. It's easy to read and has illustrations that help you understand the fundementals. It touches on how to conserve water, how to bring in wildlife, how to build a forest garden, and how to build a self-dependant garden. Loved it!