The best permaculture books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about permaculture and why they recommend each book.

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The Regenerative Garden

By Stephanie Rose,

Book cover of The Regenerative Garden: 80 Practical Projects for Creating a Self-Sustaining Garden Ecosystem

Stephanie has taught me so much about gardening that I didn't even know I needed to know. Her beautiful lessons about permaculture, a word that I didn't understand what it meant until Stephanie took the time to teach me! This is a must-need book in your gardening library.

She has created a beautiful garden of her own where she time-tests all her teachings. The climate in Vancouver Canada makes this a great environment. Stephanie and I became friends years ago when she started her blog and she has promoted my work on several occasions.

I trust her judgment and know she knows her subject and then some!


Who am I?

I have spent 25 years working at the New York Botanical Garden! My life’s pursuit of the green has been my greatest achievement. I'm a self-made terrarium designer. I developed my style and skills at NYBG and knew that I had to share this with the world. My books have sold over 14,000 copies worldwide. This is amazing to me and has taught me that my though-ness and step-by-step lessons were worth every word! Horticulture is a subject that comes naturally to me. I happily know the names of dozens and dozens of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, tropical, desert, you name plants from all over the world and I’m learning new ones every season. 


I wrote...

Terrariums - Gardens Under Glass: Designing, Creating, and Planting Modern Indoor Gardens

By Maria Colletti,

Book cover of Terrariums - Gardens Under Glass: Designing, Creating, and Planting Modern Indoor Gardens

What is my book about?

Traveling Workshop Instructor Maria Colletti makes designing your very own interior gardens easy with step-by-step photos of over twenty of her own terrarium designs. Plus, you'll get all the information you need about popular terrarium plants, such as tillandsias (air plants), orchids, mosses, succulents, and ferns.

Growing collections of adorable miniature plants in glass vessels is a great way to bring the outdoors inside and get back in touch with nature—no matter where you live or what time of year it is. Terrariums are a wondrous combination of nature, gardening, and home decor. Whether you reside in a tiny apartment, spend the bulk of your day at an office desk, or just want to be better connected to green living things. Terrarium building and tending are both therapeutic and inspirational.

Edible Paradise

By Vera Greutink,

Book cover of Edible Paradise: How to Grow Herbs, Flowers, and Vegetables in Any Space

I first came across an original Dutch copy of Vera’s book in a charity shop and I bought it despite not understanding the words because it looked so beautiful. In 2019 I finally got the chance to buy an English version and I was not disappointed. Vera is another no-dig, organic grower and this book demonstrates how attractive and abundant such gardens can be. I especially like her sections on her favourite edible flowers and how she groups plants together based on their shape and size but also how they can benefit each other. It’s an all-round beautiful and inspiring book that lives on my easy-access bookshelf!


Who am I?

I’ve always loved nature and the idea of being more self-reliant, so growing some of my own food seemed like an obvious place to start. This led me to permaculture and the treasure box of goodies it provides for each of us to make a positive difference in the world. Almost by accident, I found myself teaching and I loved it so much it became my main vocation. I write to make sense of things for myself and this is how my Design Guide came about. Books are a gift so few of our ancestors had access to. I hope you enjoy my recommendations as much as I have. 


I wrote...

Permaculture Design: A Step-By-Step Guide

By Aranya Austin,

Book cover of Permaculture Design: A Step-By-Step Guide

What is my book about?

Permaculture provides us with a collection of principles and tools to make our world a better, more sustainable and equitable place. However, making sense of that collection hasn’t always been obvious. Intended as a companion volume to other permaculture texts, my book ends that confusion, using photos, flowcharts, and diagrams to guide you through a step-by-step process on your own site. It places the permaculture ethics, principles, philosophies, tools, and techniques directly into the context of the process itself, explaining when to use each one. If you’d like to create an abundant landscape in harmony with nature, this guide is for you. It’s suitable for anyone with a basic grasp of permaculture, but has plenty to offer the more experienced designer too.

Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally

By Robert Kourik,

Book cover of Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally

Its faded spine and tatty pages show just how well-used my copy of Robert’s book has been. While the most fascinating drawings to leap from its pages are of the different root systems of vegetables, there’s plenty more to be found inside. Robert’s ‘Golden Rules of Edible landscaping’ look remarkably similar to many of our modern permaculture principles. He compares different methods of cultivation, reviews companion planting, and provides many lists and tables of useful information such as green manures, soil indicators, and mineral accumulator plants—unusual information when it was published in 1986. It’s the most substantial book on my list for good reason, but waiting for you when you want to learn more.


Who am I?

I’ve always loved nature and the idea of being more self-reliant, so growing some of my own food seemed like an obvious place to start. This led me to permaculture and the treasure box of goodies it provides for each of us to make a positive difference in the world. Almost by accident, I found myself teaching and I loved it so much it became my main vocation. I write to make sense of things for myself and this is how my Design Guide came about. Books are a gift so few of our ancestors had access to. I hope you enjoy my recommendations as much as I have. 


I wrote...

Permaculture Design: A Step-By-Step Guide

By Aranya Austin,

Book cover of Permaculture Design: A Step-By-Step Guide

What is my book about?

Permaculture provides us with a collection of principles and tools to make our world a better, more sustainable and equitable place. However, making sense of that collection hasn’t always been obvious. Intended as a companion volume to other permaculture texts, my book ends that confusion, using photos, flowcharts, and diagrams to guide you through a step-by-step process on your own site. It places the permaculture ethics, principles, philosophies, tools, and techniques directly into the context of the process itself, explaining when to use each one. If you’d like to create an abundant landscape in harmony with nature, this guide is for you. It’s suitable for anyone with a basic grasp of permaculture, but has plenty to offer the more experienced designer too.

The Weekend Homesteader

By Anna Hess,

Book cover of The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency

Even if you aren’t interested in becoming fully self-sufficient, this book is an eye-opening and exciting look at the possibilities available to us. Growing our own food (even some of it) can help us to reconnect with nature. It’s also very empowering.


Who am I?

Holly Worton is an author, podcaster, and speaker. She writes nonfiction books about her adventures to inspire people to get outdoors and reconnect with nature so they can reconnect with themselves. Holly enjoys spending time outdoors, walking and running long-distance trails, and exploring Britain's sacred sites. Travel is important to her: she's originally from California and now lives in England, but has also lived in Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. Holly is a member of the Druid order OBOD, and nature connection is an important part of her spirituality.


I wrote...

If Trees Could Talk: Life Lessons from the Wisdom of the Woods

By Holly Worton,

Book cover of If Trees Could Talk: Life Lessons from the Wisdom of the Woods

What is my book about?

Holly Worton has spent the last few years talking to trees – the birches, the oaks, the beeches, and the sycamores. You’re probably wondering: How is it that trees can talk? Is this for real?

Trees are living, breathing organisms which humans are able to connect and talk to on a deeper level through silent, telepathic communication. Trees have a much broader perspective on life compared to humans. Trees can live hundreds and even thousands of years. This means trees have thousands of years of wisdom that we’re able to tap into. This book is meant to gently encourage you to get back to Nature and turn to the magic and the wisdom of the trees. By reconnecting to Nature, you can improve your relationship with yourself, which will help you make better, more aligned choices in your life.

Grounded

By Erin Yu-Juin McMorrow,

Book cover of Grounded: A Fierce, Feminine Guide to Connecting with the Soil and Healing from the Ground Up

Dr. Erin, a PhD in policy, planning and development from the University of Southern California, shares about everything from goddess history, to permaculture, to the skewed portrayal of spirituality in mainstream media, to how to connect with Great Mother Earth, to how being led to experience an orgy connected her with sacred sexuality. In Grounded, you can prepare to be held in the safest of space as you learn about and navigate so many aspects of spirituality, including spiritual breakdowns, what radical responsibility is, life-changing mantras and body trauma and relationship healing – this book is a favorite for transcending limiting beliefs and taking you to a way of walking the spiritual path with sacredness, ancient truth, embodiment, wildness and integrity. 


Who am I?

I am a shaman, seer, and spiritual teacher who lives in Austin, Texas with my husband Luke Storey, black cat Jelly Bean and dog Cookie. I’m devoted to being of service by living by the calls of inner wisdom, mysticism, energy medicine, and shamanic practices I’ve mastered through studies with spiritual teachers, both of and beyond this world. I lead global courses, events, and talks to reconnect people to their fullest power and confidence through sacred practices. My book was named “a top meditation to try” by O, The Oprah Magazine, and I’ve been called "a leading shaman for expanding others into their full gifts and power" by Forbes.


I wrote...

Animal Power: 100 Animals to Energize Your Life and Awaken Your Soul

By Alyson Charles, Willian Santiago (illustrator),

Book cover of Animal Power: 100 Animals to Energize Your Life and Awaken Your Soul

What is my book about?

Brimming with 100 different vibrant animal illustrations, transformative practices, and captivating stories from around the world, Animal Power is an enlightening guide to the power of the animal realm and how they bring peace, healing, and empowerment to your life.

Learn how to connect with the animal power of the bear for comfort and protection, the leopard for confidence, the seal for healthy relationships, and the peacock for creative inspiration, and many others. The practices are paired with illuminating stories from spiritual teachers around the world, plus sidebars with fascinating details on ancient traditions, global mythology, and scientific trivia. Delivered in an enchanting package overflowing with insight and magic, Animal Power is a celebration of the natural world and an inspiring companion for modern mystics, nature and animal lovers, and the spiritually curious.

The Resilient Gardener

By Carol Deppe,

Book cover of The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times

I have a love/hate relationship with permaculture. I adore the concept...and when I put most authors' assertions into practice, I find that I get a much lower yield than doing things the old way. That's why I enjoy books like this one from gardeners who walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Warning: You will be sorely tempted to buy ducks. Resist, resist!


Who am I?

If I'm honest, I became a gardener because I like getting dirty. Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Tom Kitten is the story of my childhood (and my adulthood too, only now I don't have to pretend I'm going to stay clean). Of course, high-quality soil leads to high-quality produce, and I deeply adore the flavors of strawberries growing in deep, dark soil. Biting into a juicy, homegrown tomato still warm from the summer sun is bliss.


I wrote...

The Ultimate Guide to Soil: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home

By Anna Hess,

Book cover of The Ultimate Guide to Soil: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home

What is my book about?

Grow twice the fruits and vegetables in half the space on the farm, in the backyard, or in your window. Using simple techniques like soil testing, remineralization, no-till gardening, and soil amendments, The Ultimate Guide to Soil gives you the real dirt on good soil. Maybe next year your neighbor will be envious of you!

The Resilient Farm and Homestead

By Ben Falk,

Book cover of The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach

This book has all of the same selling points as Carol Deppe's but is geared a bit more toward those with larger homesteads rather than a simple backyard plot. Even if you're an urban homesteader, though, the title is well worth a read to drum up outside-the-box ideas.


Who am I?

If I'm honest, I became a gardener because I like getting dirty. Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Tom Kitten is the story of my childhood (and my adulthood too, only now I don't have to pretend I'm going to stay clean). Of course, high-quality soil leads to high-quality produce, and I deeply adore the flavors of strawberries growing in deep, dark soil. Biting into a juicy, homegrown tomato still warm from the summer sun is bliss.


I wrote...

The Ultimate Guide to Soil: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home

By Anna Hess,

Book cover of The Ultimate Guide to Soil: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home

What is my book about?

Grow twice the fruits and vegetables in half the space on the farm, in the backyard, or in your window. Using simple techniques like soil testing, remineralization, no-till gardening, and soil amendments, The Ultimate Guide to Soil gives you the real dirt on good soil. Maybe next year your neighbor will be envious of you!

The No Dig Organic Home & Garden

By Charles Dowding, Stephanie Hafferty,

Book cover of The No Dig Organic Home & Garden: Grow, Cook, Use, and Store Your Harvest

Organics, raised beds, permaculture, vertical gardening: there are plenty of exciting new ideas coming out of the veg patch. One of the most persuasive is Charles Dowding’s no-dig brigade. Many of my ‘can’t dig’ friends are joining up too, prevented from wielding a spade by sore backs, arthritis, and other such ailments. This regime of hand weeding and hoeing, and freshening the soil with generous helpings of homemade mulching composts is so much kinder to the planet than plastering it with artificial fertilisers.


Who am I?

Veg. I grow it; I nurture it; I shield it from cold winds, protect it from voracious pigeons, warm it against sudden frosts. And then I share it with friends, family, and neighbours… and we eat it. In between times I might write something gardeny or historical, but you’ll usually find me back on my veg plot, a little urban allotment in the west of England. I do a lot of reading there too! 


I wrote...

Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History

By Bill Laws,

Book cover of Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History

What is my book about?

We give flowers. We spend hours nurturing our gardens. We use plants in dyes, construction, cosmetics, and medicines. And we don’t give them a second thought. 

Here’s the irony – we are entirely dependent on them. Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History examines some of the plants that have had the greatest impact on human civilization. It’s a useful reminder that we should never take plants for granted.

The Fate of Food

By Amanda Little,

Book cover of The Fate of Food: What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World

What’s not to enjoy about a behind-the-scenes tour of an Army research center that takes increasingly detailed biometric data and devises ways to print, on-demand meals that meet that soldier’s total nutrient requirements. The Natick, Massachusetts, lab is only one of the captivating stops on Little’s worldwide search for food innovations. I particularly enjoyed her descriptions of remote-controlled robots in Shanghai and vertical farms growing greens in shipping containers. While most environmentalists ignore farms and food, Little highlights the truth—that “ag contributes more than any other sector, including energy and transportation, to climate change.”


Who am I?

Innovators long have fascinated me. I helped launch a clean-energy startup and advance legislation promoting environmental entrepreneurs. I’ve written biographies of Nikola Tesla (who gave us electric motors, radio, and remote controls) Jacques Cousteau (inventor of the Aqua Lung and master of undersea filming) and George Fabyan (pioneer of modern cryptography and acoustics), as well as a history of electricity (From Edison to Enron). I love reading (and writing) about ingenious and industrious individuals striving to achieve their dreams. 


I wrote...

Tech to Table: 25 Innovators Reimagining Food

By Richard Munson,

Book cover of Tech to Table: 25 Innovators Reimagining Food

What is my book about?

Imagine eating a burger grown in a laboratory, a strawberry picked by a robot or a pastry created with a 3D printer. You would never taste the difference, but these technologies might just save your health and the planet’s. Today, landmark advances in sensors, computing, and engineering are driving solutions to the biggest problems created by industrialized food. Reinvention is desperately needed. Pollution, climate change, animal cruelty, hunger, and obesity have festered under Big Ag, and despite decades of effort, organic farming accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. croplands.

My book offers profiles of 25 food and farm innovations, including supplements that lower the methane in cattle belches, drones that monitor irrigation levels in crops, urban warehouses that grow produce year-round without poisonous herbicides, and more. 

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