Gaia's Garden, Second Edition: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture / Edition 2

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The first edition of Gaia’s Garden sparked the imagination of America’s home gardeners, introducing permaculture’s central message: Working with Nature, not against her, results in more beautiful, abundant, and forgiving gardens. This extensively revised and expanded second edition broadens the reach and depth of the permaculture approach for urban and suburban growers.

Many people mistakenly think that ecological gardening—which involves growing a wide range of edible and other useful plants—can take place only on a large, multiacre scale. As Hemenway demonstrates, it’s fun and easy to create a “backyard ecosystem” by assembling communities of plants that can work cooperatively and perform a variety of functions, including:

  • Building and maintaining soil fertility and structure
  • Catching and conserving water in the landscape
  • Providing habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and animals
  • Growing an edible “forest” that yields seasonal fruits, nuts, and other foods

This revised and updated edition also features a new chapter on urban permaculture, designed especially for people in cities and suburbs who have very limited growing space. Whatever size yard or garden you have to work with, you can apply basic permaculture principles to make it more diverse, more natural, more productive, and more beautiful. Best of all, once it’s established, an ecological garden will reduce or eliminate most of the backbreaking work that’s needed to maintain the typical lawn and garden.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Become a sustainable producer of resources instead of a wasteful consumer. This wonderful book shows you how by helping you create and enhance beautiful backyard ecosystems within the garden. Put this book into action, and you'll begin to live an example that positively shifts your own community and beyond. Best of all, doing so with this book is simple, juicy, and fun."--Brad Lancaster, author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond and

"Toby's fun, well-grounded, and engaging book is fast becoming a classic, and deservedly so. Practical yet visionary, broad-ranging yet focused on the basics one needs to know, this is a great place to start on the permaculture path. The new edition builds solidly on the success of the first. Congratulations!"--Dave Jacke, co-author of the two-volume Edible Forest Gardens

"The world didn't come with an operating manual, so it's a good thing that some wise people have from time to time written them. Gaia's Garden is one of the more important, a book that will be absolutely necessary in the world ahead."--Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and Hope, Human and Wild

"Permaculture gardens are no longer a thing of the future. They are here to stay and flourish. Gaia's Garden is enlightening and required reading for all people who desire to make their home's landscape healthy, sustainable, and healing."--Robert Kourik, author of Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape--Naturally

"Gaia's Garden is simply the best permaculture book ever written, and is in the running for best gardening book ever written. No one should be without it."--Sharon Astyk, author of Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front

"Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden will be recorded in history as a milestone for gardeners and landscapers--a fusion of the practical and the visionary--using the natural intelligence of Earth's symbiotic communities to strengthen and sustain ecosystems in which humans are a partner, not a competitor. An amazing achievement showing how we can and must live in harmony with nature!"--Paul Stamets, author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

Library Journal
Touting the message that permaculture works with nature, Hemenway's revised edition expands into urban permaculture. With tables, charts, and images. (LJ 9/1/01)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781603580298
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/19/2009
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 73,440
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Toby Hemenway is the author of the first major North American book on permaculture, Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. After obtaining a degree in biology from Tufts University, Toby worked for many years as a researcher in genetics and immunology, first in academic laboratories at Harvard and the University of Washington in Seattle, and then at Immunex, a major medical biotech company. At about the time he was growing dissatisfied with the direction biotechnology was taking, he discovered permaculture, a design approach based on ecological principles that creates sustainable landscapes, homes, and workplaces. A career change followed, and Toby and his wife spent ten years creating a rural permaculture site in southern Oregon. He was associate editor of Permaculture Activist, a journal of ecological design and sustainable culture, from 1999 to 2004. He teaches permaculture and consults and lectures on ecological design throughout the country. His writing has appeared in magazines such as Whole Earth Review, Natural Home, and Kitchen Gardener. He is available for workshops, lectures, and consulting in ecological design.

He lives in Sebastopol, California.

Visit his web site at

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Table of Contents

1. Introducing the ecological garden

2. A gardener's ecology

3. Designing the ecological garden

4. Bringing the soil to life

5. Catching, conserving, and using water

6. Plants for many uses

7. Bringing in the bees, birds, and other helpful animals

8. Creating communities for the garden

9. Designing garden guilds

10. Growing a food forest

11. Permaculture gardening in the city

12. Pop goes the garden

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Customer Reviews

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( 10 )
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  • Posted October 14, 2011

    Take your organic vegetable gardening to the next level!

    This book is a great introduction to permaculture (permanent agriculture). It talks about growing food by observing and imitating nature and modeling our food production after the way nature grows in forests and other ecosystems. You never see neat little rows of one type of plant in nature, what you'll find in a forest or a meadow is a polyculture of different plants and animals that support each other.

    In a natural ecosystem, some plants attract pollinators, others attract other beneficial insects, some plants provide shelter for these beneficial insects, other plants add nutrients to the soil, other plants add nitrogen, other plants provide a ground cover that acts as a natural mulch, and so on. Every plan has a role to play.

    What does that have to do with a vegetable garden? This book talks about how to apply the lessons we learn from nature to our own food production whether it's on a large farm or in your backyard garden. It talks about attracting beneficial insects and other wildlife (birds), it talks about the benefits of some weeds, it talks about which plants benefit each other and how to solve various gardening issues in a permanent way so that you don't have to be importing mulch, compost, fertilizer and other things into your garden every year. Once a permaculture garden is established it practically maintains itself and it's a beauty to behold!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2014

    Permaculture got started in Australia and then did very well in

    Permaculture got started in Australia and then did very well in the UK, so for a long time, all of the permaculture books came from those countries. Gaia's Garden was the first major North American permaculture book. It described a technique that would work particularly well for us; tree guilds, and described how to develop your own, working in a N. American climate. Now, there are other really good N. American permaculture books, Jacke's Forest Gardening & Bane's Permaculture Handbook leap to mind, but for someone looking for an introduction to permaculture in North America, Gaia's Garden is still the best.

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  • Posted May 25, 2014


    Having gardened organically for many years, we are ready to get to the next level. This book is full of good ideas, good illustrations, and easy to follow steps to take. If you're serious about feeding yourself, your family, and a even few neighbors while also making a positive impact on your own environment, this book will be the guide you need.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2014

    An excellent book!

    Just what I was looking for!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Good starting point!!!

    The book provides very good insight of permaculture and recommendations/examples on different scenarios (Suburban, Urban, and city) ). The book is well organized. It describes concept of ecosystem, interaction among creatures and plants in the ecosystem, then the design of the ecological garden. It even covers the implementation of permaculture garden in the city. Definitely it is good book to be in my library.

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    Posted June 14, 2010

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    Posted January 26, 2011

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    Posted March 18, 2012

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    Posted July 20, 2013

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