Tear Out Your Front Yard!

I just checked out a copy of Ivette Soler’s book Edible Front Yard from the library Friday.  The book is not specific to permaculture though the idea of tearing up your front yard and turning it into a garden definitely is consistent with permaculture principles.

edible front yard

Photo courtesy: the edible office

(I read somewhere today that permaculture is not so much at set of technologies as it is a way of thinking about how these technologies go together. If I read this in your blog, comment to me and I’ll revise this sentence to credit you appropriately.)

I got a chance to skim through the book at lunch. Here’s a few of the big ideas I picked up:

  • Beauty. In a suburban context, your neighbors may not be too happy if you tear out your front yard and it lessens the property values of all of the surrounding houses.  Try to keep your front yard garden neat and design it to be beautiful.
  • Edible Annuals and Perennials. This book really does provide great suggestions of  very attractive edible annuals and perennials for the front yard; what they are, how to grow them and how to use them. She looks at both plants we are used to eating and invites us to “expand our edible palette” by planting some non-traditional edible plants. The pictures are great.
  • Edibles for shade.  I really liked this list (though short) because my yard has lots of shade.  She also talked about tree removal and pruning. This is an issue that not too many people talk about in the permaculture community. For me it also is a dilemma for a suburban garden. Do you cut the trees in your yard to provide more sunlight for your garden?  What do you do with the wood? Mulch it?  That really seems like a waste of a valuable resource.I’d really be interested if others have other ideas for reusing tree trimmings in an urban/suburban context, other than as fuel or lumber.
  • Edibles for winter.  Here in the southern US we should be able to stretch our growing season  well into the winter months.
  • Removing and reusing lawn plants.  This was a concern I had as I consider converting my yard to a permaculture garden.  How do you reuse the plants?
  • How-To’s. Starting about a quarter of the way through the book Ivette provides some great how-to’s.  I was most excited by this section of the book.  Here’s some of her suggested projects:
  • A lettuce lawn. I might try this in my back yard where I have a lot of shade.
  • A tri-fold trellis screen.  This is a multi-function screen that provides privacy while staking tomatoes, peas or beans.
  • A corrugated metal raised bed.  I love this.  I have seen so many of these corrugated metal beds in permaculture videos but had absolutely no idea where people were getting them.  Ivette tells you how to make them. Her suggestion is to place them in the strip between the street and the sidewalk.
  •  A simple compost cage.  Again I love this. I have been

    old and newly started compost piles, july. left pile is enclosed with chicken wire, right pile is not contained at all.

    making compost in a chicken wire cage that I just prop up any old way.  Ivette’s design is easy.  I went a picked up some horse manure from the local horse farm earlier this week to amp up my second compost pile of this growing season. I may try to upgrade my compost cage this weekend.

All and all the book is a great addition to the permaculture library.

P.S.  The compost cage upgrade didn’t happen over the weekend.

Earthship Brighton, What is that?

Solar Panels Earthship Brighton

photo: Dominic Alves

Low Carbon Trust  says:

Earthship Brighton was the Low Carbon Trust’s first project and was the first Earthship to be built in England. The project was built as a community centre for use by Stanmer Organics, built on a Soil Association accredited site in Brighton.

This pioneering demonstration project has evolved over the last ten years and enables people to come and experience a cutting edge eco-build and be inspired to respond to climate change in their own ways back at home and work.

There were several drivers: delivering a sustainable community centre in response to a genuine local need, changing values in the construction industry and inspiring positive action in individuals to generate environmental change through modifying people’s behaviour to less carbon intensive lifestyles.

Throughout the project the focus has been spreading a positive message of climate change education and helping people to modify their behaviour to live with a lighter carbon footprint.

click here for an online tour of Earthship Brighton: