As the snow falls and the wind stings, I’ve been thinking about what to grow in my garden in the coming year. I’ve previously used square foot gardening, but this year an extended time away during the summer meant returning to an overgrown collection of plants I didn’t recall planting. A few books from the library have provided alternative approaches that I’m considering for the New Year:
Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway introduced me to permaculture. In permaculture, the core idea is to design your garden using plant, animal, and fungus-based systems. Done correctly, the plants should provide sufficient food for the gardeners as well as the insects, birds, and other visitors to the garden. And what design effort it requires! Zones, shapes, and the need to make minute observations of your environment make this a very time-intensive approach prior to starting a garden, but Hemenway provides the reader a welcome overview of the process.
Though I haven’t read One-Straw Revolution yet, I found the supplement One-Straw Revolutionary by Larry Korn a fascinating read. Much like permaculture, the core idea behind its natural farming is developing systems of plants, animals, and fungi. However, instead of laborious up-front design, Korn and his mentor, Masanobu Fukuoka, advocate planting a mix of plants and letting nature sort it out. What grows, and where, Korn says, will surprise you in both bounty and self-sufficiency.
If you’ve always wanted to try gardening but haven’t yet, now is a great time to start thinking about what you’ll grow, where, and how. The library’s seed library from 2017 hints at what the library will offer in 2018, and it’s a great way to narrow down growing choices if you’re overwhelmed. Regardless of what you choose to grow—or even if you don’t garden—I hope the New Year is a fruitful one for you.