The Minimalist Gardener is a perfect book for those who claim they don't have the time or space for gardening. Filled with colorful photos and easy to read essays, this book invites you to explore the possibilities of low input gardening. By using plants that want to grow and placing them to make it easy for them to thrive, you can have food from your yard with less work.
The Minimalist Gardener
So what is a minimalist gardener? The introduction of the book talk how friends were visiting the author and his wife at a rented home. While the home had a garden, since they were only staying a short time, not too much was done with it. That said, Patrick still gathered ingredients for a dinner salad out of a semi-wild back yard. Thus began the concept of the minimalist garden – a low maintenance yet productive space. The emphasis is on perennial and self-seeding plants. Soil is rarely disturbed – no double digging here. Mulch and other soil building techniques are welcome, and raised beds and other features such as rain barrels and compost bins have their place.
Topics covered in the book include:
- Gardening in sun or shade
- Raised bed gardenin
- Seed starting
- Dealing with slugs without chemicals
- Perennial vegetables
- Fruit trees and shrubs, including pruning
- Garden planning and design
- Taking permaculture beyond the garden
Some of my favorite bits included the tips for small gardens, and the perennial vegetables and self-seeders. (I found some new ones I'd like to try.)
Peter Whitefield, Pioneer of Permaculture
The Minimalist Gardener is a collection of the writings of Peter Whitefield (1949-2015). Peter worked to apply permaculture principles in the cool, moist climate of the British Isles. He wrote a number of books, including:
- Permaculture in a Nutshell
- How to Make a Forest Garden
- Tipi Living
- The Living Landscape
- How to Read the Landscape
- The Earth Care Manual
He was a consulting editor of Permaculture magazine, featured on BBC, and taught permaculture design courses with his wife, Cathy. There's no doubt he helped make the world a better place by being a part of it.
Starting Down the Permaculture Path
This is an easy read to stir your creative juices and introduce you to low input gardening. If you'd like more permaculture reading material, check out:
- Integrated Forest Gardening
- Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist
- The Forest Garden Greenhouse: Creating an Indoor Permaculture Oasis
Some more permaculture resources on the site include:
- Introduction to Permaculture
- Permaculture Design Elements – 3 Keys You Need to Know
- Our Homestead Permaculture Project – Site Overview
Are you a minimalist gardener, or do you take a more conventional approach? Leave a comment and share your experience.
Laurie Neverman is the creator of Common Sense Home (formerly Common Sense Homesteading). Her gardening adventures include companion planting, wildcrafting (using weeds for food and medicine), vertical gardening, herbalism and permaculture. She grows over 100 varieties of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers in her garden each year.