Permaculture Book Review: The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture


Permaculture is an ecological gardening technique that is “ancient yet cutting-edge technology”. Author Christopher Shein teaches gardeners both novice and experienced how to apply permaculture to vegetable gardens in The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture.

Permaculture relies on careful design to put plants into mutually beneficial groupings in the garden. These groups, called guilds, create maximum edible yield in whatever size space you have.

The author begins the book with a description of permaculture for those who are unfamiliar and then goes into more detail. He lists twelve principles of permaculture:

  1. Observe and interact. Look at all the qualities of your site – where the sunlight and shadows fall during the year, how water runs off the land, and much more.
  2. Catch and store energy. Energy includes sun, water, labor, etc.
  3. Obtain a yield. You probably wouldn’t be gardening if you didn’t want a yield.
  4. Apply self-regulation and respond to feedback. If plants fail to thrive in a particular area, ask why. Is it the sunlight, air flow, soil quality?
  5. Use renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste. Planning ahead can reduce the amount of material discarded.
  7. Design from pattern to details.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate. This goes back to the idea of growing in guilds.
  9. Use small and slow solutions.
  10. Use and value diversity.

Each principle is elaborated on throughout the book. Specific examples are shown for designing gardens of several types, from a balcony garden to an acre.

Nearly half the book talks about specific vegetables and how they are used in the permaculture garden. Most of the foods will be familiar, such as lettuce, tomatoes, oregano. Some will probably be less familiar. The tree tomato really caught my fancy.

The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture: Creating an Edible Ecosystem is available on Amazon for about $18.50 paperback or $12 on Kindle. It’s an excellent resource for planning a well-integrated garden.

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