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Forest gardening book reviews
Please only add works which are dedicated to forest gardening / food forests.
Forest Gardening (Hart)
- Hart, R (1996). Forest gardening : rediscovering nature and community in a post industrial age. Green Books. ISBN 9781900322027.
Hart is famous for coining the term forest gardening and applying it to temperate climates. First published in 1991, this revised and updated edition was published in 1996. Hart died in 2000, so this was one of his last publications. The first 3 chapters of the book serve as an introduction to Hart's world view and his understanding of biological systems, with spiritual and philosophical thoughtfulness interwoven. Hart writes with a love for the past and culture, and indeed an optimism for the future. This book is dotted with anecdotes. The reader learns of Hart's deep interest in herbalism and rural culture of ancient peoples and of the more recent past. Some of his views however do not represent modern, mainstream scientific understanding. Dubious statements are occasionally present, e.g. "[F]luids, whether blood, sap, lymph glandular secretions that constitute a large proportion of [...] total substance are in a constant state of free circulation. Therefore one of the main physical causes of all disease is any clogging of the bodily channels that allows a buildup of antagonistic factors." Hart goes on to claim acid based diets cause "clogging" and disease and advocates for alkaline based diets.W Generalization between the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems of e.g. a mammal with the xylem and phloem of plants is highly problematic, and the claim that all disease is based on clogging of bodily channels secondary to consumption of acid foods is markedly ignorant of scientific understanding. It becomes clear that Hart has great interest in human physiology, nutrition and disease prevention, but sometimes has an open mind towards fringe and pseudoscientific belief systems. In chapter 4, he describes his life long learning journey (the reader also learns some of his life story in the process) and how he came across the idea of forest gardening. Humbly he places much of the credit on others, particularly Toyohiko Kagawa.W In chapter 6, there is a detailed history and description of his forest garden at Wenlock Edge in Shropshire. Parts of this chapter may be of some practical use to readers who wish to learn about design and planning of a temperate climate forest garden, although other sections are of little use such as the list of individuals to whom Hart dedicated trees.
Creating a forest garden (Crawford)
- Crawford, M (2016). Creating a Forest Garden: working with nature to grow edible crops. Green Books. ISBN 9781900322621
Crawford has decades of study in agroforestry, and is the director of the Agroforestry Research Trust, UK. This is a registered charity founded in 1992 with an "educational and research" mission statement, however appears to have conducted very little research to date. In this cynical world, it is also hard to not notice that the organization appears to be disingenuously profit driven in the sale of videos, courses, learning materials and consultancy. This textbook is his main work (although he has authored several other books, they heavily borrow from sections of this book). Crawford's approach to forest gardening is both scientific and pragmatic. It is evident while reading the book that he has both excellent academic knowledge and years of first hand experience of the subject. It is unsurprising that some have described him as a world authority on temperate climate forest gardening. The language is no-nonsense and clearly written. Despite its textbook nature, it feels easy to read through the entire book. Part 1 is entitled "How forest gardens work" and the chapters describe the general theory of forest gardening. Especially for those without formal training in horticulture, it is an invaluable insight. Part 2 is about designing and starting a forest garden. Crawford begins this part by discussing how to prepare the site. Propagation and grafting are discussed, and how to begin planting. Chapter 9 is about initial and overall design. Windbreaks are discussed in chapter 10. Chapter 11 begins the main purpose of the book: a long list of recommended species for each layer of the forest garden along with specifics of design pertaining to each layer or type of plant. Chapters 11 and 12 are about the canopy layer, Chapters 13 and 14 are likewise a recommended species list and design discussion for the shrub layer. Similarly chapters 15 and 16 are for the perennial and ground cover layer, and chapters 17 and 18 for the annuals, biennials and climbers. Chapters 19 covers the design and importance of clearings, and 20 design of paths. chapter 21 covers fungi, both the importance of mycorrhizal fungi, and also discusses fungi in terms of an edible crop. The final chapters cover specifics of harvest and preservation of forest garden produce, and maintenance tasks and strategies. Numerous appendices offer useful aids for those who wish to design a forest garden. Overall this textbook is an absolutely essential resource for anyone wishing to manifest a forest garden in a temperate climate broadly similar to the UK, and cannot be recommended highly enough.
Food from your forest garden (Crawford, Aitken)
- Crawford, M; Aitken, C (2013). Food from your forest garden : How to harvest, cook and preserve your forest garden produce. Green Books. ISBN 9780857841124.
A "cooking book for gardeners", this book seeks to address a perceived gap in information available to amateur forest gardeners, i.e. actually what to do with all the esoteric and wonderful plants they have just planted. This book is firmly about temperate climate forest gardens, with a particular unspoken focus on the UK climate. Really it can be considered an expansion of notes regarding culinary uses of the plants covered in Crawford's main textbook "Creating a Forest Garden" (see above). However, some of the plants are not covered in any great detail, merely listed in a prolonged table in the appendix. Despite the subtitle, there is disappointingly little extra information about harvesting ... there are only 3 pages in the chapter dedicated to harvesting in general terms, and perhaps a few sentences in the introduction to each plant. For more in depth advice about harvesting, readers will need to seek other sources. Chapter 2 discusses jams, jellies, bottling, fruit cheeses, chutneys, pickling, and vinegar and alcohol infusions. Chapter 3 discusses drying of fruit and nuts, and chapter 4, Fermenting. More detail is provided than the harvesting chapter, however these sections probably can only provide a brief introduction to the topic and readers may again have to seek a more dedicated source on each if they wish to dig deeper. The main chunk of the book is recipes, helpfully laid out in a 4 season format. The instructions provided are not that of an advanced cooking text, no significant culinary prior knowledge is assumed. Those generally unskilled in cooking should be able to easily follow along. The receipes sound and look healthy and flavoursome, and many appear relatively quick to make. In conclusion, potentially this book is of most use to those with an already established and productive forest garden, struggling to make use of their harvest. However, as Crawford suggests in his main textbook, some of the very first steps before embarking on designing a forest garden are to establish the aims of the project, and what plants are to be included to provide those aims (Creating a Forest Garden, p. 92). Arguably, an important part of this initial planning stage would be to consider in at least broad terms what meals and food can be provided by the plant choices, as this direcly influences plant choices, and the number of plants of a particular species required.
Woodland Gardening (Plants for a Future)
- Plants For A Future (2013). Woodland gardening : designing a low-maintenance, sustainable edible woodland garden with fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables. Plants For A Future. ISBN 9781484069165.
Plants For A Future is a chartiy which maintains an extensive online database of edible or otherwise useful perennial plants.