Ross and Jenny Mars “Getting Started in Permaculture”

ISBN 978 1 85623 035 3. “Getting Started in Permaculture” by Ross and Jenny Mars was published by Permanent Publications in 2007. Originally published in Australia in 1994. 103 pages long and subtitled “Over 50 DIY Projects for House & Garden using Recycled Materials” this work was originally prepared for an Australian audience so it has undergone a minor conversion to make it fit the Northern Hemisphere. This book sounds really exciting and useful if you read the cover. However you do quickly tire of its “101 uses for a plastic bottle” approach. Many of the projects are better covered elsewhere – indeed some of them remind you of do-it-yourself projects from Children’s Television. The coverage of each project is very lightweight so it can only be used as an approximate guide for the sort of things you may wish to try. It is really for ideas rather than guidance. If you are looking for guidance on how to grow lots of food organically then this is not it. In fact it contains little or no information on how to grow food. Sure the related topics are covered, such as mulching and composting, but this book’s main thrust is as a DIY book. This represents little more than a collection of leaflets hence the cover price of nearly £10 is a bit outrageous. Many of the projects do seem to assume an almost endless supply of stuff. I doubt many readers will be readily able to “recycle” this from whatever they find lying around. Some of the areas do seem to be quite outside what we might think of as being “permaculture” as we get an insight into how to make paper – by taking paper and liquidising it. How pointless. It all comes over as a random collection of fun-things-to-do for anyone who is exceptionally bored and with time on their hands. However you feel short-changed. For any beginners in permaculture this is probably not really recommended as I am sure we would like to know how to lay out a garden and what sort of things to grow, and how. So the title “Getting started” is quite misleading. It looks as if you could try all 50 projects and not have generated a morsel to eat. It barely touches the surface nor does it really cover Permaculture that well. A few of the basic principles are covered but remember that the authors have a farm to work on. Do not expect to roll out some of these ideas to the average British garden. I guess this is a problem with any books coming over from the U.S. or Australia, they have a different sense of scale and their climate is different. I can’t see the average Londoner planting a screen of trees to prevent bushfires. Leave this one on the shelf.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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