Permaculture for Rationalists?
June 17, 2008 1:23 PM   Subscribe

GardenFilter: Gardening noob wants to start a permaculture garden, what to read?

I've recently moved, and have now have a big yard. I'd love to grow a ton of tasty food, but I'd like to do it the most ecological/efficient way. What books, websites, resources should I be studying to get up to speed? Bonus points for references that don't spend a long time on the spiritual aspects of permaculture or organics.
posted by gofargogo to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Something I've found very useful are old books on gardening from the pre-industrial age. While you do have to adapt to a lack of large amounts of readily available manure and heirloom varieties for a large part, these books can give you great insight into what to grow and when, how to enrich your soil naturally, how to prevent pests without pesticides, etc. Scour some older bookstores and look for pre-WWII books.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:40 PM on June 17, 2008

Where do you live?
posted by melissam at 1:49 PM on June 17, 2008

Best answer: How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine by John Jeavons is a must-read. It's not strictly permaculture per se (afaik 'permaculture' is a registered trademark) and there are aspects of permaculture which are missing from Jeavons's book, but he gives an excellent introduction to organic raised-bed gardening.

Several good books, including permaculture, are at home and I can post ISBNs this evening.
posted by anadem at 1:51 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: where are you located? the thing about permaculture is that you want to be taking into account your local environment, seasons, etc. - most of the original books on permaculture were written for an Australian environment (b/c Bill Mollison, the granddaddy of permaculture, was from there)

that said, Chelsea Green is one of the best publishers for this kind of material in the U.S. & many of their more recent works are geared for North American environments - here are some great books, all very practical & straight-forward:

- Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture
- The Permaculture Garden
- Perennial Vegetables

if you want to get really serious, check out the bible for North American permaculture - Edible Forest Gardens
posted by jammy at 1:57 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm in Sonoma County, California (and I meant to include that in my original post, d'oh!)
posted by gofargogo at 2:03 PM on June 17, 2008

hey, there's a permaculture organization in your neck of the woods - maybe they'd be worth a visit?
check it: Occidental Arts & Ecology Center
posted by jammy at 2:28 PM on June 17, 2008

Anadem got there first. "How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries (etc)" is basically an eco-conscious veggie-gardener's bible.
posted by GardenGal at 4:36 PM on June 17, 2008

check out stuff from rodale press (
the book Rodale's Vegetable Garden Problem Solver is a great reference to have on hand when you're actually growing something and then it starts to die, it offers all organic solutions.

they also have a title i enjoyed which was something like 50 projects to make/build/do in your garden, which seemed like a very good basic organic gardening thing. starting with basic soil building techniques, small scale bed-building and expanding from there, including witty little projects along the way.

i recommend getting some seed catalogues and going crazy! like, seeds of change, high mowing, or seed savers
posted by dahliachewswell at 12:29 AM on June 18, 2008

are you sure permaculture is best? I am trying out hydroponics at the moment, but recycling urine as the basis of the nutrient solution, so not much 'imported' fertiliser.
posted by daveydave at 7:59 AM on August 1, 2008

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