Winter Reading

So we are heading into the Big Chill. The gardens are calming down. Hopes of topping 100mpg are to be shelved until late spring’s mild temperatures return. Time to hunker down and do some Big Reading. Mia was concerned that I may be maxing out the hard drive between my ears, but then I reminded her all I have forgotten about turbo chargers, automotive suspension dynamics and tire tread compounds and she felt a little better.

Here is the current Winter Reading Interest List for 2006-7:

Deep Mulch Gardening
Currently en route through Amazon are Ruth Stout’s classic The No-Work Garden Book, who by some accounts is the American equivalent of Japan’s Fukuoka, a folk hero of mine. For a more modern take I also have Lee Reich’s Weedless Gardening coming and the library is tracking down Patricia Lanza’s Lasagna Gardening. I also intend to read F. H. King’s Farmers of 40 centuries. Tracking 4000 years of organic farming should take care of some of my hubris. Finally J.E.B’ Maunsell’s Natural Gardening looks to be a must read if I can find it. I am making Big Plans to No Till my gardens next year, which begs the question on why I am buying forged hoes and shovels imported from Europe… Once a tool guy always a tool guy I guess.

I have really only read 3 or 4 works on Permaculture, and only one by the founders. The fact that I have yet to read anything by Bill Mollison is shameful and needs remedying. So from his works I look to read An Introduction to Permaculture, and then move onto Smart Permaculture Design and if I fall backwards into a giant pile of money I will source the Big One: Permaculture: A Designers Manual.

Sustainable Landscaping
Seeing as I will be charging for this next year, I should really bone up some more. Near the top of the list will be Gayle Weinstein Xeriscape Handbook, followed by Sally Roth’s Natural Landscaping. Others will certainly pop up, it seems that every book I read leads to three more “must reads”.

This should be easy- I made 2 cu yards last year. But I plan on hosting classes in both my Village and our Unitarian Church in 2007 so I should really become more of an expert. Rodale’s Book of Composting is the standard and again is en route. I will also be fabbing up several styles of bins ranging from my preferred uber simple wire fence $10 model to more socially acceptable cedar models in both one and 3 bin versions. Amazon rocks-I have 4 books coming and am only out $20 including shipping!

Well I think that these 2800 pages will be a good start seeing as I will doubtless read the seed catalogs from Seed Savers Exchange and Johnny’s Seeds about 4 dozen times each by February.

Are all gardeners this psychotic? No need to answer that…

2 Responses

  1. Save your money.

    A diverse population of common, mainstream folks have always enjoyed the therapeutic & health benefits of home fruit & vegetable production (gardening), keeping hens for eggs & meat, and composting their kitchen waste. They do so humbly. It is nothing new.

    Plants are smarter than some people think. Like people, they evolve to survive. But, they’re better at it and will be here long after we’re all gone. They develop resistance to herbicides and genetic alteration like our own body’s immune system fights disease. Farmers do not “use increasing amounts of pesticides”, to kill resistant plants. They rotate crops. Pesticides kill some insects, herbicides degrade the metabolism of some plants. If an herbicide doesn’t work, a farmer won’t buy it. They have to be careful with their money.

    Governments could devote some amount of farm program subsidies to support farmers through the three-year transition phase from conventional farming into certified organic farming. It is nearly impossible for most farmers to survive during that time in limbo with low yields and/or no market for their crop. Most farmers would love to get rid of that chemical bill and start getting organic premiums for their crops. Mind you, THEY live in that environment. It’s THEIR land and THEY raise their children in that environment.

    The world receives enormous amounts of rainfall each year. That fresh water is channeled out to sea via bypass levees and aqueducts. Residential development interests contribute lavishly to environmental organizations and lobbyists in order to wrest irrigation water from farmers, for the homes, lawns, swimming pools and golf courses of their sprawling housing tracts.

    The bio-sustainable authors mean well, but by promoting their philosophy in a structure that certifies teachers to go out and teach others, then they go on to teach others yet, and so on; it is simply a pyramid scheme. They trademark what they say & teach, and fiercely protect the copyrights. Follow the money there.

    The utopian approach to food production would certainly cause widespread famine. So quickly we have forgotten. And, we are more people now.

    A fear based viewpoint, promoting a horticultural society for everyone, whether they want it or not. Elitist eco-fascist twaddle.

  2. Interesting, if at times incoherent.

    I am assuming by Eco-Fascists-Pyramid Scheme types you are referring to Bill Mollison. My only, though very significant, criticism of their ilk is the exorbitant charges for their Permaculture courses which leads one to question their commitment to the Greater Good. However, since I have no desire to market my yard as a Permaculture haven I have little copyright concern there.

    Permaculture texts contain deep wisdom that would take others a generation to discover, or in many cases rediscover, on their own. Ignoring the wisdom of others due to some methodological concerns is a folly that we cannot afford in these unsustainable times.

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