on 22 June 2006
This is a fascinating book for anyone who wants their garden to be as edible as possible. His own story is inspiring, and his wonderfully lazy approach to permaculture is refreshing. Much more than a list of plants, my copy of this book has been read cover to cover, and has now become a great reference for whenever I find a corner of my garden which is in need of something new. With information from planting to tasting notes, this book is the one I rely on. Well worth investing in.
on 29 May 2005
This is one of the handful of books that every gardener (and cook) should have. And I'm a professional gardener with almost 300 gardening books, so I've got more than most to choose from. It wouldn't hurt if some policy makers read it as well.
Ken Fern is a gardening pioneer. He's actually grown not just the dozens of perennial plants in this book, but hundreds more, all of them good to eat or do something useful with, and then shared his favourites.
Most of our food currently comes from a small number of annual plants such as wheat. Nothing wrong with annuals - I wouldn't like to live without tomatoes, or sunflower seeds, or wheat, come to that. But being overdependent on annuals means we have to start growing our crops all over again every year - and that means lots of hard work, and a bigger risk of crop failure in bad conditions. It also means less biomass, far fewer opportunities for other species, and above all far more soil erosion. And of course being dependent on only a few species and varieties is downright dangerous - in the classic example, even though it was made worse by uncaring landowners and politicians, the Irish famine was still originally caused by overdependence on one species and very few varieties.
Ken Fern's book is almost entirely dedicated to perennial species, and a huge diversity of them. His way of growing food means far less work, more resilience and food security, more biomass to absorb carbon dioxide, more wildlife, and almost no soil erosion. Think of fruit trees such as apples, nut trees such as walnuts, or herbs like rosemary and thyme. Think of willows for baskets. But Ken's gone further still, and found plants to give us perennial vegetables, edible flowers, unusual roots and tubers, edible water plants, and much more. The plants are often beautiful as well, so this isn't just utilitarian gardening. One of Ken's favourite edible flowers is the day lily featured on the cover.
There are 47 photos, though far more than 47 plants in the book - but they're excellent photos, and keeping the numbers down means the book's still affordable.
Plants For A Future is well written, too. Reading it is like having a good natter with a friend who just happens to be an expert gardener. (For pedants like me it's a pity the editor didn't stop the use of commas as if they were full stops or semi-colons, but for the sane unpedantic majority this won't matter at all.)
The main text is packed more full of information than most books many times its size, but when you add in the appendices, with all their checklists of plant uses, suggestions for further reading, useful contacts, and much more, Plants For A Future becomes perhaps the single most useful book for the sustainable food grower.
So get this book and get yourself some tasty easy pickings!
And there's always the superb Plants For A Future website, [...] for a taster.
on 4 December 2007
A wonderful book that provides us with a new view on some of the most common, as well as unusual, plants available to grow in a temperate climate. It's focus is mostley on the edibility or medicinal use of a hudge variety of plants, a lot of them in your nearest garden centre. The growing conditions for each plant is also described making it an essential guide book to anybody with an interrest in gardening,natural medicine or food production. A Permaculture principle is for all things to be multifunctional. This books provides us with the information needed to finding other uses for plants than their beauty. Do not buy another plant without it!
on 24 January 2008
This is a very good and useful book.
It is comparable to the quality of its website. WIth still lots of species, very very useful nature and well-written, down to the point and synthetic. With also a personal look and a bit of permaculture/ecological taste.
I give it 9 out of 10. A book that you must have.
However I think it could have a more inspiring and colorful design. It is good text, good presentation with a dozen pages of colorful pictures. Still its very worth to have it.
And if you think you have the website, there is nothing than having the book in physical form, which is more personal.
on 10 November 2009
I recently bought this book as an addition to the earth care manual (which is also very very good). It fills in all the gaps as far as plant choice goes, the book is written in a great way to, even if your not that familiar with permaculture or gardening and just starting out. Brilliant, inspiring, buy it!
on 10 May 2010
I should have bought this book ages ago. I find myself dipping into it all the time and coming back to it again and again when other books let me down!
Concise, clear, easy to read and understand. I don't know why this book is not on every plant lovers book-shelves!
on 10 August 2004
I started to read this with the intrepidation it was going to break down into a list of plants, but surprisingly i couldnt be further from the truth. It starts with what the books about about the soil and then quickly goes into a brilliant array of plants and what they are used for, and how they are grown etc. Its truely amazing, Considering it makes you think at the start that we depend upon mainly 20 species of plants for our foods worldwide. Considering everything else out there thats also edible or has other uses, its amazing, Now this isnt just your stinging nettle made into a soup kinda book, which seems to be for survivalists, it explains about plants which are common or havent been yet used for food but could be. Its Incredible i cant say anymore. Other than if you like John Yeomans book of self reliance you will love this book by Ken Fern.