Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #251

Practical Permaculture by Jessi Bloom, 2015

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson
Review date: 2015-10-01

Practical Permaculture cover

What is Permaculture? The authors of “Practical Permaculture” go to considerable effort to define the evolving meaning of this term, while emphasizing the ethics and principles on which proponents mostly agree. The most important are care for the earth and the care of people.

The introduction continues with the basics of nature and how the earth “works,” and then the principles of design, using co-author Jessi Bloom’s house as a case study. After that a wide range of topics are considered, and options discussed for sites from the tropics to mild temperate zones – all ways to illustrate how working with our environment instead of against it has proven successful in many different settings and with many different peoples.

The book goes far beyond gardening to consider energy sources and their alternatives, the design and construction of homes, even the processing of human waste – essentially a handbook to all physical aspects of life, including our social structures. Near the end is a list of fifty plants that they consider useful for permaculture landscapes. The list was not what I expected – many of the plants were unfamiliar, especially those that will only thrive or in some cases survive in a tropical climate.

Does this all work? This certainly is a book for generating ideas. I would want to vet the list of the recommended plants carefully. Will they survive? Will they become invasive? If nothing else, this book will make you realize there’s much to consider in all of your gardening decisions.

Excerpted from the Fall 2015 Arboretum Bulletin.

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