I'm a voracious reader. On topics that I am interested in, even more so. I have consumed dozens and dozens of gardening books over the years. Most are pretty mediocre. This week,however, I am halfway through what I think is possibly the best book on gardening I have ever read. The name of the book is Gaia's Garden-Second Edition.
The book's focus is on the central message of permaculture, which is to create fantastic garden spaces by working with nature and not against it. Think of it as a combination of all of the best features of wildlife gardens, edible landscapes, organics, and conventional flower and vegetable gardens. Its about working with nature and restoring the soil and its nutrients while at the same time having a landscape that is not only pleasing to the eye but also sustaining to your local wildlife and your family's bellies.
It is not a book that will teach you how to plant a seed. You need to know that already. It is not a book that will direct you to rip out your yard and replace it with yards of corn. It is not a book that will tell you to rip out your lawn and fill it with native grasses and native flowers. It teaches you can absolutely have landscaping that looks great, is low maintenance and still feeds you. Without the need for carcinogenic sprays and dustings, expensive amendments or wasteful practices.
I like that the concepts in the book are for the average lot size and there are plenty of tips for those with urban sized lots. This book will leave you feeling OK about your current lot size and climate. You need neither expansive acres nor tropical zones to accomplish its goals. The book has very few pictures but it more than makes up for that with the dozens of extremely helpful tables. It is LOADED with information which means it is not a fast read. Its the kind of book your read a bit and then think a bit.
Basically it is geared towards those of us that want our home to have attractive landscaping AND want it to give food AND want it to be low maintenance AND want it to support some native insects and wildlife AND want to do it without a need for dumping "stuff" on it ever week. The best thing about this is that you can approach it in baby steps, little bits at a time.
As I read it I have been stuck by how easy it is to accomplish all of the above. I've been struck by how far we have strayed from these easy, common sense methods. Instead resorting to damaging practices for quick (and temporary) gains. These days I'm talking about this book anytime I'm around people with yards. The ideas in it are so great and could serve us all greatly should they become the new norm.