Permaculture, Self Sufficiency And Sustainable Living Books
See Also: Australian Field Guides and Nature Books, Survival Books, and My Top Two Survival Books.
This page will contain mostly Australian books, and some international books. The Australian books are mostly still relevant in other countries though. Permaculture was invented in Australia so many of the classic (and best) permaculture books are Australian. The page suggests some books to get if you are interested in learning more about the permaculture and sustainable living information that you see on survival.org.au.
In many bookshops (especially online ones) you are presented with hundreds of books and not much idea which one(s) are the best to get. So here I have described the books that I myself have used to learn from, and that are the most popular and the most recommended. (Since I have spent a ridiculous amount of time over the last several years looking into what books are available). The prices are current as of when I have last updated this page, so they may possibly change when you click on the links.
This page is only new and I will be adding lots more books in the near future. My personal book collection is ridiculously large, so by the time I list everything that I own and have read (or at least read some of) there will be a lot of material here.
Categories Found On This Australian Nature Books Page
Self Sufficiency and Sustainable Living Books
Organic Vegetable Gardening Books
There are several newly added books here that I will describe more fully soon... You can also buy Bill Mollison's books (and some other books) sent from Australia directly from their website at www.tagari.com.
Permaculture: A Designers' Manual by Bill Mollison [Amazon] $87.95 USD. This is the "bible" of permaculture, which covers basically everything that people will need to know to create a world without fossil fuel-based economic growth and the modern technologies which these unsustainable (and soon to be gone) practices have made us dependent on. It seems a bit intimidating at first (perhaps a lot intimidating if you are not really a book person), but once you start to become familiar with it, a whole new world opens up. The best way to get familiar with it is to study a Permaculture Design Certificate course (PDC), for which this book is the textbook. The PDC course goes through most of the book in summary form, which then gives you the background needed to open the book up and feel right at home with it.
Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison [Amazon] $37.49 USD
Permaculture Two : Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture [Amazon] $21.95 USD. The first permaculture book was called "Permaculture One", which is now out of print and has been replaced by "Introduction to Permaculture" (which is basically an updated version of it). So the two introductory permaculture books are now Introduction to Permaculture, and Permaculture Two.
Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren [Amazon] $17.67 USD. Some people really love this book, others find it a bit too abstract. Its more about the principles and how they can be used, quite generally, and applied to a lot of things. Its not so much of a practical how-to-grow-stuff type of book.
The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka [Amazon] $10.85 USD
Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening--With information on mushroom cultivation, sowing a ... ways to keep livestock, and more... by Sepp Holzer [Amazon] $19.77 USD
Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set) by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier [Amazon] $92.69 USD.
Water For Every Farm: Yeomans Keyline Plan by P. A. Yeomans [Amazon] $49.95 USD. This is the original text of the keyline method of harvesting water that is taught in permaculture courses. Its not the most readable book ever but the information it contains is hugely important (though you might not need to know it in this much detail).
Back from the Brink: How Australia's Landscape Can Be Saved by Peter Andrews [Amazon] $34.95 USD
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape by Brad Lancaster [Amazon] $18.91 USD. This is a preorder, and comes out in March 2013. The first edition is available, but quite expensive (about $69 USD compared to $19 for the new edition).
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond (Vol. 2): Water-Harvesting Earthworks by Brad Lancaster [Amazon] $21.75 USD
Design & Construction of Small Earth Dams (Practical farming) by K. Nelson. Out of print, may be available occasionally on [Amazon]. According to Nick Ritar of Milkwood Permaculture, this is one of the best books ever about how to build small farm-size dams. Its hard to find though.
Forest Gardening by Robert A. Hart [Amazon] $20.95 USD. One of the original classic permaculture books. It's not that much of a practical how-to-garden type of book though.
The Permaculture Home Garden, Linda Woodrow. This is an extremely practical book, more so than Rosemary Morrow's Book and the books by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren (which are great books, but more like design books). The spiel for this book says "A totally integrated system of gardening - a labour-saving way to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs that taste great and help to keep the environment healthy".
Click here to purchase from Australia $35.99 AUD
Amazon $43.25 USD
Earth User's Guide to Permaculture, Rosemary Morrow. This is another of the classic permaculture books. It is Australian but could be easily applied to any country. It is in between a theory/design book and a practical book and covers the same kinds of topics as you learn in a Permaculture Design Course (PDC).
Rosemary is one of the original Permaculture teachers in Australia (or anywhere) and has vast experience with teaching people the principles of permaculture. I went to the launch of the second edition of this book, and I also caught up with Rosemary at a group workshop, "The Work That Reconnects", run by Clare Power of Transition Blue Mountains. The workshops (which I highly recommend) may possibly run again in future, there are details here of the one that I attended.
Click here to purchase from Australia $30.49 AUD (Out of stock here last time I looked)
Purchase from Amazon.com $25.05 USD
Self Sufficiency and Sustainable Living Books
You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise by Joel Salatin [Amazon] $22.15 USD. A hugely inspirational book about how to succeed in farming. Keep in mind that after the crash, farming will become one of the most in-demand occupations.
Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm (DVD) by Marjory Wildcraft (Actor), Marjory Wildcraft (Director) | Rated: Unrated | Format: DVD, 2 Discs. [Amazon] $59.95 USD. I haven't seen this one, I found it while I was looking up links for this page, and I plan to order it soon. It looks really good and has amazingly good reviews (221 out of 226 are 5 star, which is amazing).
City Goats: The Goat Justice League's Guide to Backyard Goat Keeping by Jennie Palches Grant [Amazon] $13.10 USD
Backyard Self Sufficiency, Jackie French. There is now a 2009 update of this classic self-sufficiency book. This is a great book that covers a whole range of topics including "Small animals for small gardens" and "Growing in adversity". The section about how to start a box garden from this book is reproduced here on survival.org.au.
Click here to purchase from Australia $19.99 AUD
Amazon $20.18 USD
Living the Good Life: How One Family Changed Their World from Their Own Backyard, Linda Cockburn. This is a great book describing how Linda Cockburn and her family (her, Trevor and Caleb) went on a mission to live for six months without spending any money at all, while living entirely off the produce from a large-ish suburban backyard (not on acreage). It is written in diary format. Highly recommended. Their website is lintrezza.blogspot.com.au.
Click here to purchase from Australia $26.99 AUD
Organic Vegetable Gardening Books
One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square by Lolo Houbein [Amazon] $13.83 USD. This book is kind of the opposite of "Gardening When it Counts" (see below), which is about how to grow food with hardly any water, by using more space than what most people use in modern town-irrigated times. One Magic Square is about how to grow food using hardly any space, which is very good if you have some water but hardly any space.
Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times, Steve Solomon. This book covers exactly the things that people will want to know about gardening in a few years time when the food in the shops starts to run short. This is one of the three or four books on this website where I say "don't even think, just get this one".
When I first started growing vegetables again (again meaning as an adult rather than helping my Dad or my Grandfather), the thing that really concerned me — and depressed me — was how much water was needed to keep them alive in the summer drought. The methods taught in this book are exactly the thing that I have been looking for all this time.
The back cover comments say "Applicable to most areas in the English-speaking world except the tropics or hot deserts [so take that into account if you live in either of those climates], this book shows that any family with access to about 400 square meteres of garden land can halve their food costs in most climates using just the odd bucketful of household waste water, a few hand tools, and a few hundred dollars per year spent on supplies and seeds — working just an average of two hours a day during the peak growing season."
More from the back cover: "The decline of cheap oil and the threat of harder times to come is prompting people to grow more food themselves. But currently popular intensive vegetable gardening methods depend on cheap oil, requiring high inputs of water, fertility and organic matter. Prior to the 1970s, home food growing used more land because wider plant spacing reduces the need for irrigation and requires lower levels of soil fertility to be productive — and well-spaced plants can be weeded rapidly and conveniently with hand tools while standing upright. But these efficient systems have been largely forgotten."
"It covers a host of material, including:
- Vegetables ranked by how difficult they are to grow
- Root systems as the key to gardening mastery
- Seeds, spacing and irrigation
- Home made organic fertiliser that really works
- How to choose, use and sharpen hand tools
- Compost making, root-cellaring and irrigation
- Chemical-free handling of insects and diseases"
"Designed for readers with no experience, yet and eye-opener for even the seasoned gardener, Gardening When It Counts returns the backyard food garden to center stage for uncertain times ahead."
Click here to purchase from Australia $24.99 AUD
Amazon $13.57 USD
Fruit and Vegetable Gardening in Australia, Mike Pollock and The Royal Horticultural Society. The back cover of this book claims that it is "The definitive guide to growing fruit and vegetables successfully". It may well live up to that claim. It contains a huge amount of information from eight different contributors. Covers vegetables (herb plants) and also trees (e.g. fruit trees). It doesn't focus entirely on organic methods but does discuss them.
Click here to purchase from Australia $35.99 AUD
Amazon $54.60 USD
Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting, Lyn Bagnall. I just love this book. It's not laid out like a glossy magazine-page-style gardening book, just a plain old fashioned book with plain text. There are no pictures and the paper is nice and thick novel-style book paper, which is not glossy and does not smell of toxic chemicals in the way that colour books do. I find this book really easy to read, I love to pick it up and read bits from it and I have been learning heaps from it since I bought it. It's not the most basic book so I would not recommend it as your first and only vegie gardening book, but if you have either another basic book (with pictures) or a bit of experience, I would absolutely recommend it. It includes a good section on container gardening.
Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) 2012 Edition $32.49 AUD
Amazon, 2012 Edition $34.33 USD
Organic Gardening, Peter Bennett. This is an awesome book, which is devoted entirely to organic methods of growing plants. Almost all of the book (all of it except for about 5-10 pages) is about food plants rather than flowers or other ornamentals. The back cover states that it is the accepted major work on the subject of growing and cultivating plants in Australia and New Zealand using natural methods.
Click here to purchase from Australia $39.95 AUD
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