Nice review in Permaculture Activist

Jonas Carpenter writes a lovely review in the Spring 2013 Permaculture Activist. Here’s my favorite quote from it:

“The subtitle [Two Plant Geeks, One Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City] hints at the passion Eric and Jonathan have for plants, but it becomes obvious that these fellas aren’t just plant geeks, they’re mad scientists.”

Hardy kiwifruit recommendation

Oops, one more error to correct. In chapter 20 I discuss the hardy kiwifruit (Actinidia arguta) and its sometimes alarming rate of growth, and mention the arctic beauty or super-hardy kiwifruit (A. kolomitka) as an alternative. On page 131 a line reads “I’m not recommending this species [A. kolomitka] in my workshops as an alternative.” This line should read “I’m now recommending this species in my workshops as an alternative.” Which is in fact what I have been doing.

Arctic beauty kiwifruit (Actinidia kolomitka)

Young fruit forming on arctic beauty kiwifruit

A critical influence on permaculture

My copy of Paradise Lot arrived a few weeks ago and I started tearing through it. The first time you read your newly printed book is quite an experience – very exciting of course, but you also find all the mistakes you now have to live with forever. In this case, what struck me was reading the list of foundational texts for permaculture that inspired me, and realizing I left out Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture. Probably the most important one of all. My copy has a cracked spine and is full of underlines, highlights and scribbled notes. Written in 1927, this book did more to lay the groundwork for my life’s efforts than any other book before Mollison and Holmgren.

If you’ve not read it I highly urge giving it a try. If the world had paid serious attention to it when it was written, we might have avoided multiple environmental and social problems, up to and including climate change.

Excerpt from the book up at Scribd!

Now you can read the first ten pages of Paradise Lot: “Germination” at Scribd.

“Few gardeners would have looked out at the small, flat expanse of compacted land and thought, “It’s perfect!” The front yard was a short, steep slope of asphalt with a tiny strip of sterile gravel and sand subsoil. Two shady side alleys led to a backyard that looked like a moonscape, sparsely populated with tufts of crabgrass. Two large Norway maples, reviled as weeds that poison anything growing beneath them, hung over the garden from the north side. And the house itself was soulless, all straight lines, devoid of personality. It was exactly what we were hoping for…”

backyard before overview before front yard before

Cooking from the bioshelter

We got snowed in this weekend, plus it was Jonathan’s birthday.  What better thing to do than cook lots of food?  And what better food to cook than food fresh from the bioshelter?

Saturday night Eric and I brainstormed a magnificent Thai-inspired coconut fish soup.  Eric made his trademark sticky rice to go with it.  We used chicken broth, grated ginger and galangal, winter squash, potatoes, tilapia and vietnamese catfish (which we will soon be raising ourselves!), salty little shrimp, and fish sauce.  Right at the end we dumped in a bowl of greens from the bioshelter, including tatsoi and purple mustard.  Each person added their own toppings of ground peanuts, hot sauce, sardines, and our own fresh cilantro.  Fantastic.  And fun.  A bunch of friends came over to share the bounty and be cozy in the blizzard.  Oh, and we made a local blueberry pie for dessert.  Oh yeah.

I was still feeling the cooking bug today, so I created a homemade polenta casserole.  I had never made polenta myself before and it was much easier than I thought it would be.  While I was stirring the polenta, I sent Jonathan out to the greenhouse for a pound of mixed greens.  He came back with a bounty of ethiopian kale and tree collards.  I quickly blanched the greens, chopped them up, and mixed them with ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest, cayenne, salt and pepper.  I dumped half the polenta in the bottom of a baking pan, then spooned on the cheese and greens filling, and then topped it with the remaining polenta and some cheese for good measure.  All baked up it tasted so good!  At the last minute I made a quick tomato soup to go with it.  Yummmm.

The bioshelter is so good for our stomachs and souls this time of year!  Viva Paradise Lot!