Smart Permaculture Design


This flower looks like it could be tropical, but I grew in my garden last summer.

My second library garden book is Smart Permaculture Design by Jenny Allen. I was drawn to the beautiful pictures and hoped to find inspiration to beautify my veggie producing space – but the book turned out to be about gardening in sub-tropical Australia (I bet they don’t look forward to getting snakes in the yard like I do). Allen writes about her efforts to convert a traditional yard to a food producing wilderness, describing its end state as “a garden that provides us with almost everything we need: abundant and varied food, entertainment, tranquility, living art and fascinating insights into nature” – exactly what I’m hoping my garden will provide, just in a different climate.

The author defines permaculture as “an ingenious design system based on working in harmony with nature. It looks at a garden as a whole, not just at its parts. Everything interrelates.” – and this book is a beginners guide to permaculture and covers basic concepts. She examines her gardening mistakes with good humor with the hope her readers will avoid making the same mistakes.

We do have some plants in common like the ubiquitous chard, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and basil. She highlights some exotic fruit that I’ve never heard of like chocolate pudding fruits, babaco, Panama berry, choko and midyim berries. Then there are the avocados – I adore avocados and am envious of anyone that can grow them (they are much to large of a tree for me to try growing them as a houseplant, maybe…).

She does discuss two sub-tropicals I can grow in my garden: feijoas and pepinos. Feijoas with fruit that gets compared to a guava, might thrive in the warm microclimate along my back fence, so I’m going to be on the hunt for a couple of these bushes later this spring (I tried growing feijoas from seeds last summer, but they didn’t sprout). Pepino, a plant on the continuum between tomatoes and eggplants, has already been planted in my dad’s greenhouse. For me this plant will be a annual requiring shelter and tastes (so I’ve read) like a melon but grows on a metre tall bush. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

Although I find the plants and wildlife of her garden fascinating, her garden decor is not to my taste – I won’t be posting quotes or investing in statues anytime soon.