The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Creating a Forest Garden

Creating a forest gardenI started out my forest gardening education with the two volume set of Edible Forest Gardens, which is so full of information that I've recently been considering refreshing my memory with a reread.  Instead, I settled on trying out a different point of view --- Creating a Forest Garden by Martin Crawford.

Creating a Forest Garden is a very different book from Edible Forest Gardens, and I think I'd recommend the former for nearly all beginners.  Crawford describes forest gardening in a very simple way that still manages to hit all the highlights of the whys and hows of forest garden theory.  While Jacke and Toensmeier revel in complex landscape design theory, Crawford cuts through to the ecological basics.

Unlike the authors of Edible Forest Gardens, who are essentially consultants working with other people's forest gardens, Crawford has been managing a two acre forest garden of his own for two decades.  As a result, his book is full of more depth and more realistic long term information, countered by less breadth (especially with regard to gardening outside England). 

On the down side, about half of Crawford's book is species lists, which (in my experience) should not be read during the initial planning stages --- you'll get too excited by the possibilities and lose your focus.  (Plus, be sure to look at the zones listed --- perhaps half of the plant species aren't cold hardy enough for our farm.)  The price tag is also pretty high since the book was published outside the U.S., and I have several nitpicks about the information itself (which I'll mention later).  But, overall, Crawford's book is worthy of five stars.

This week's lunchtime series hits the highlights of Creating a Forest Garden from the point of view of someone who has already been wowed by the awesomness of forest gardening elsewhere.  If you're just hearing about forest gardens for the first time, you might start with this post and work your way back through the links to bring yourself up to speed, and if you're a long-time forest gardening experimenter, I hope you'll chime in with your own experiences!

The Weekend Homesteader suggests fun and easy projects to start you on the path to self-sufficiency.

This post is part of our Creating a Forest Garden lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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