Monday, May 23, 2011

Book review - The permaculture home garden

In the book The Permaculture Home Garden by Linda Woodrow, readers are guided through the steps to building a complete gardening system that she designed and used in her own home. Along the way elegantly describing the principles behind the system and permaculture.

The single most distinguishing feature of this book for me is that it describes a single system and a single way of doing things. Now that may sound a little dull and limiting but I found it refreshing and exactly what I was looking for. I have read numerous other gardening books and majority cover a variety of options from growing in pots to wicking beds. As a beginner gardener by the end of these books I feel excited by the diversity of gardening but overwhelmed by the vast knowledge that I must retain and am left confused as to where I should even begin.

In stark contrast Linda's book is like reading a recipe for a garden, listing the ingredients and describing a step by step like process that can be easily followed. Taking you all the way through from design to harvesting and everything in between. With every detail covered including exactly what you are going to grow and where. The only thing Linda leaves you to decided is where to located and to what size you are going to make the garden.

Now that may sound a bit impossible particularly as things very depending on climate and conditions. So I don't expect all of it will work for me exactly as described but for the bits that don't I can learn first hand how to adapt it to my particular environment.

As a result of this clear approach I was left lifted with a feeling and attitude of... LETS GO! I guess that is why Melanie and I found the decision to tear down our existing garden, destroying hours of work, to start a fresh was so easy.

What about the highly experienced gardener? Well not being one (yet) I will have to speculate. But for the same reason a professional chef would still read recipe books I believe this book would be a great source of ideas and inspiration. Particularly the more traditional gardener wanting to branch out into permaculture.

I found Linda to have a deep understanding of the relationships within nature and the permaculture principles, and a way of communicating them that strongly resonated with me. So much so that I heard the click from the light switch in my head when reading.

All of this, not that I find it that important in a gardening book, is wrapped up in an entertaining and slightly humours package. My only complaints is I would have likes to have seen some photos of the garden it describes. I highly recommend this book giving it 5 out of 5 stars.

Have you read it and what did you think?


  1. I have borrowed it from our local library before, I am inclined to just pick bits from books that would work in my garden without starting again from scratch, another good book is the bill mollinson one introduction to permaculture.

  2. I've read it and I think she is a bit prescriptive :). I like Kellee's attitude - every site is different and being creative is one of the great joys of gardening. Having said that though, I cook like that - find a recipe and follow it until I get the idea, then go nuts with my own interpretations and riffs on it. I always sign books with "Have Fun!"

  3. Kellee you might have noticed the library sticker on my copy of the book. In fact we have two borrowed copies in the house the other from a friend. Otherwise the book would have got damaged from Melanie and I fighting over it. And don't worry Linda I will be buying a copy. I agree Kellee the Bill Mollinson book is a good one if you are into picking out bits or using it as a reference.

    Linda are writers allowed to comment on reviews? :) I think your point about learning a recipe is a good one. I see gardening, and cooking in fact, as a form of art. Picasso for example started painting in a realistic manner very common at the time. Only after some maturity did he start experimenting with different theories, techniques, and ideas, pioneering styles like Cubism. And agreed we should all find the fun in everything we do. What's a gardening book that has really inspired you Linda?

  4. Jason, great review, and as you know, we're big fans of Linda's book as well. After reading it, my Pete went from "we're never having chooks" to "we need to get six chickens now!". :)

  5. Celia Thanks. Pete and I obviously got the same feeling from the book. It was like I finally had all the knowledge I needed to really get started and now!

  6. It looks like Linda has a blog of sorts with pictures...check it out -

  7. Oops, never mind. I see that you are probably already aware of her site as she left a comment for you. The book sounds very interesting and one that I will have to read.

  8. Mr.H. Yes I am aware of her site. But I do appreciate the thought. Her site has some great recipes for what is in season.

  9. Hi Jason, there's a Facebook permaculture library group, if you use Facebook. My guru is David Holmgren. To my mind, Principles and Pathways is one of the most profound bits of philosophy ever.

  10. Linda I don't use facebook, but you may have given me a valid use case. I will definitely check out Principles and Pathways. Thanks.


If you don't know which option to select... Name/URL is a recommended option. And you only need to provide a name.