161 of 161 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
a readable guide to gardening with food-producing plants, 13 May 2002
This book is inspirational and practical. It shows how to create an ecosystem of food-producing plants, whether you have a large garden or a few yards of spare ground. The plants are arranged to replicate a woodland or forest environment, with the emphasis on low-maintainance and production of food (fruit, nuts, vegetables) throughout the year. The first chapter considers the environmental philosophy of this type of gardening. Subsequent chapters cover the plant types suitable for the UK, divided into categories of trees, shrubs and ground-layer plants. Each plant type is described in a very readable manner, with details such as basic growing requirements (soil, light, water), eventual size and yield. Although familiar plants such as rhubarb, raspberries, apples, plums are described, less common but equally viable varieties such as medlar and quince, even kiwis, are treated in equal detail.
Most of the emphasis is on the smaller trees which grow to about 3-4 m height. Larger trees such as chequer and walnut are described only briefly. The chapter on vegetables deals with perennial and self-seeding varieties, rather than the annuals of a typical vegetable plot. Particularly useful is a chart showing at what time of year each type of fruit can be harvested. More sketchy is how long it takes from planting the trees to when they start bearing fruit, however, for most varieties this would seem to be about 5 years. The last chapter deals with planning and gives an example of how a medium-sized garden could be adapted for this type of food production. The last few pages give details of nurseries that can supply the plants, so if you want a change from the shiny citrus fruits at the local supermarket, a garden of mulberry and medlar is only a phone call away.