Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1   Report Post  
Old 01-09-2004, 07:00 PM
Graham Burnett
 
Posts: n/a
Default Review: The Earthcare Manual by Patrick Whitefield

Here's my review of Patrick's new book, as submitted to 'Growing Green' (the
magazine of the Vegan Organic Network- hence the emphasis on the vegan or
otherwise aspects of this work..)

TITLE: THE EARTH CARE MANUAL
A Permaculture Handbook For Britain
& Other Temperate Countries

AUTHOR: Patrick Whitefield

PRICE: 34.95 + p&p
PUBLISHER: Permanent Publications, The Sustainability Centre, East Meon,
Hampshire GU32 1HR, UK
ISBN: 1 85623 021 X
PAGES: 480pp

ILLUSTRATIONS: 206 black and white photos, 43 colour photos, 145 line
diagrams & numerous tables.

Some critics have said that permaculture is all very well and good for
tropical or desert conditions, but isn't suitable for a cool temperate
country such as the UK. Indeed, many of the major permaculture texts
published up until now have been Australian in origin and thus contained
large sections that have been at best irrelevant to us Brits. At worse they
have led to disillusionment when advice intended for climates far more hot
or humid than ours has been slavishly followed and resulted in failure.
However, all that is set to change with the publication of The Earth Care
Manual, the first fully comprehensive permaculture designers handbook
specifically written for British conditions.

And what a phenomenal work it is. Seven years in the making, experienced
permaculturalist Patrick Whitefield has assembled a truly encyclopaedic work
covering virtually every aspect of the physical design of the world around
us.

He leads in with two chapters defining permaculture and it's ethics
(earthcare, peoplecare, fairshares) and principles before looking in depth
at the elements of soil, water, microclimate, energy and materials. The
second part of the book focuses on application- how working with nature can
provide all of our food, shelter and comfort needs in order to live
abundantly and sustainably. In his very readable yet highly knowledgeable
style he covers gardens (everything from the window box and conservatory up
to allotments and community gardens), buildings, woodland, orchards, farms,
local food links (box schemes, food co-ops, CSA, farmers markets, etc) and
biodiversity. Using copious amounts of facts, figures, tables, diagrams,
photos and case studies Whitefield illustrates solutions for every situation
whether urban or rural, looking at mulching, rainwater harvesting,
windbreaks, perennial vegetables, pond construction, biotecture, forest
gardening, coppicing and wildlife gardening to name but a few examples. The
last section of the book is devoted to design skills, providing a step by
step guide to actually putting all this wonderful knowledge together in our
own homes, gardens and landscapes.

One chapter I found pertinent was that on farming and food links. Whitefield
isn't vegan himself, but respects the vegan point of view. He acknowledges
the inefficiency of the animal-based diet, pointing out that only around 10%
of the food consumed by farm animals is available as edible meat when they
are killed. He also highlights the untenability of the vegetarian stance,
ie, that it is OK to eat milk and eggs but not meat: "What happens to the
bull calf or male chick which cannot be used for milk or egg production, or
the cow or hen when they are too old to produce an economic yield? Of
course, they are fattened up, killed and eaten. It's impossible to eat
animal products without contributing to the death of animals". He does go on
to look at the keeping of livestock such as pigs or poultry within
permaculture systems, but this is not a large part of the book and can
easily be skipped by the vegan-organic reader. Or you could actually read
it: I found it very interesting, and it clarified that animal husbandry
within a permaculture context is a million light years away from the
industrialised factory pharms that currently supply the sterile little
packages on the supermarket shelves. Whitefield's own position is "What
matters to me is how much the animal has suffered. Purely from an animal
welfare point of view I'd rather eat an organic steak than drink a pint of
conventional milk". He also looks at green manure based stockless systems,
acknowledging the work of Elm Farm (although unfortunately doesn't mention
VON), and explores the possibilities of leaf curd as a protein source for
vegans that avoids importing pulses.

Also of particular interest to Growing Green readers will be the section on
fruit and nuts. Along with vegan pioneer Kathleen Jannaway, Whitefield
recognises that although nuts are not widely grown in the UK at the present
time, they have enormous potential as a staple food crop; ".there's no
reason why tree crops should not replace annual field crops as our main food
source. That would revolutionise not just our agriculture but our landscape
too. Gone would be the open fields of cereals and grass replaced by orchards
and edible woodlands, with perhaps as many clearings as we now have woods.
Our landscape would cease to be an imitation of the prairie or steppe, and
become an imitation of what it was before we turned it upside down:
woodland". A vision for the future maybe, but one backed up here with
cutting edge research and practical details on pioneering crops such as
hazels, walnuts, chestnuts as well as acorns (Whitefield advocates selective
breeding for edibility), beech, pine and monkey nuts. For my money the book
is worth the admission price for this chapter alone.

Where the book is less strong is in the area of what in permaculture circles
are sometimes called the 'invisible structures'. In other words, the fabric
of social interactions and human connections that will need to be redesigned
if we are to create truly sustainable future societies. Whitefield does
acknowledge that economics (the 'fairshares' ethic of permaculture) is not
his forte, instead directing readers to Richard Douthwaite's excellent
'Short Circuit'. However, despite some valuable acknowledgement of the
importance of developing real 'listening skills' and touching on inclusive
community development techniques such as 'Planning For Real', I would also
liked to have seen a section going into some more depth regarding
'peoplecare'- or how we are to look after both ourselves and each other
properly. Producing sustainable food, water, medicines, buildings, forests
and landscapes is only half of the battle for survival in the new millenium.
To my mind the real challenge for the 21st century permaculture movement is
how to create the 'social glues' that are needed to effectively bind
together our communities. Not just the intentional communities of
eco-villages and progressive land share projects, but also retro-fitting the
towns, cities and rural settlements that most of us inhabit today either
through choice or circumstance. But I'm probably quibbling- the title of
this book is after all the 'Earth Care Manual', and maybe as time goes on we
will see equally mature works addressing these other aspects of permaculture
design. In fact I should be grateful, for if this were any bigger than it
already is it would only cause my bookshelf to collapse.

Graham Burnett


---
Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
Version: 6.0.742 / Virus Database: 495 - Release Date: 19/08/2004



  #2   Report Post  
Old 12-09-2004, 08:14 AM
Chookie
 
Posts: n/a
Default

In article ,
"Graham Burnett" wrote:

Some critics have said that permaculture is all very well and good for
tropical or desert conditions, but isn't suitable for a cool temperate
country such as the UK. Indeed, many of the major permaculture texts
published up until now have been Australian in origin and thus contained
large sections that have been at best irrelevant to us Brits. At worse they
have led to disillusionment when advice intended for climates far more hot
or humid than ours has been slavishly followed and resulted in failure.


How interesting -- I found some of the Mollison books a bit unhelpful because
they assume Tasmanian conditions, which I would have thought were similar to
those found in the British Isles -- cool and wet!

--
Chookie -- Sydney, Australia
(Replace "foulspambegone" with "optushome" to reply)

"Life is like a cigarette -- smoke it to the butt." -- Harvie Krumpet
  #3   Report Post  
Old 13-09-2004, 02:50 PM
Chookie
 
Posts: n/a
Default

In article ,
Janet Baraclough.. wrote:

How interesting -- I found some of the Mollison books a bit unhelpful
because they assume Tasmanian conditions, which I would have thought
were similar to those found in the British Isles -- cool and wet!


Tasmania (only 8 degrees of latitude south of Sydney),lies at latitude
41 to 43 south of the Equator. The equivalent latitude north of the
equator corresponds to Spain, Italy, North California, which have warmer
summers than Britain, more sunshine/higher light levels even in winter,
and a longer growing season.


I assure you that Tasmania is not known for its climatic similarities to
Spain, Italy and North California (Perth and Adelaide are closer to a
Mediterranean climate). To give you an idea, September in Tassie AFAIK is
when you plant peas, cabbages and broad beans, and start chilli and tomatoes
only in heated propagation units. Here in Sydney I can now plant cucurbit,
bean, eggplant and capsicum seeds in the open (though I wouldn't this early in
the month) and it's far too late to plant peas and broad beans. Is anyone
doing that in the UK in March? And if so, wouldn't it be related to the Gulf
Stream rather than latitude?

Britain lies much further distant from the equator at 50 to 58 N. Even
in summer, the light intensity is lower than a Tasmanian winter. In
winter daylight levels are very low and hours of daylight short.The
light difference, as well as the temperature difference, affects the
growing season and has implications for anything planted in shade or
layers, such as "forest gardens".

I'm in Scotland, at 56 N. the same latitude as southern Alaska, and Moscow.


Interestingly, I didn't really notice light intensity differences when I went
from a Sydney summer to a Moscow winter for 6 weeks. A sunny Moscow day at
-27 C seemed -- in terms of light -- quite similar to a sunny winter day (15
C) in Sydney. I suppose the reflectiveness of the snow might have
contributed. I certainly did notice the very short days, and the impairment
to my sense of direction because the sun was in the wrong place!

What are you planting now?

--
Chookie -- Sydney, Australia
(Replace "foulspambegone" with "optushome" to reply)

"Life is like a cigarette -- smoke it to the butt." -- Harvie Krumpet
  #4   Report Post  
Old 14-09-2004, 01:12 PM
Chookie
 
Posts: n/a
Default

In article ,
Janet Baraclough.. wrote:

Interestingly, I didn't really notice light intensity differences when
I went from a Sydney summer to a Moscow winter for 6 weeks.


Must have been the snow reflection.

We have (some) clear blue sky, sunny winter days here too. Because of
the latitude our winter sun's daily arc is lower in the sky than places
nearer the equator, and it's shining at a more oblique angle, through
more atmosphere.


Ditto for Sydney as it's in the Temperate Zone.

Valleys might be in shadow for six months of the year, because the
surrounding hills block the low sun, and it never gets high enough in
the sky to shine over them. Lots of hillside or valley houses and
gardens in Scotland get zero sunlight from October till March.


Not such a problem in Moscow, as it's basically flat. What's the native
vegetation like in places that receive so little direct sunlight?

What are you planting now?


It's autumn here, time for planting daffodil bulbs. I've got a load of


Bet you don't have to put them in the fridge for 6 weeks before planting, as
we do!

herbaceous stuff and shrubs in pots which I want to get planted in the
garden before winter, and I'm about to sow some freshly harvested seeds
(in pots in a cold frame) which won't germinate until next year. The veg
garden is winding down, cauliflowers finished last week, potatoes all
lifted and stored, onions still waiting, beans and courgettes still
producing, leeks looking good.


In autumn, I *plant* spuds, caulis, onions and leeks!!! Is your vegie garden
bare of anything but perennials in midwinter?

--
Chookie -- Sydney, Australia
(Replace "foulspambegone" with "optushome" to reply)

"Life is like a cigarette -- smoke it to the butt." -- Harvie Krumpet
  #5   Report Post  
Old 15-09-2004, 01:33 AM
Graham Burnett
 
Posts: n/a
Default


It's autumn here, time for planting daffodil bulbs. I've got a load of
herbaceous stuff and shrubs in pots which I want to get planted in the
garden before winter, and I'm about to sow some freshly harvested seeds
(in pots in a cold frame) which won't germinate until next year. The veg
garden is winding down, cauliflowers finished last week, potatoes all
lifted and stored, onions still waiting, beans and courgettes still
producing, leeks looking good.


Also soon be time for planting broad beans, garlic and Japanese
(overwintering) onions.

Graham


---
Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
Version: 6.0.756 / Virus Database: 506 - Release Date: 08/09/2004




Reply
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules

Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Very sad. Sir Patrick Moore. Baz[_6_] United Kingdom 8 14-12-2012 03:48 PM
happy St. Patrick's day, algae and polar bears Gabrielle Ponds 0 18-03-2005 05:52 PM
Patrick Timpone's Show on KLBJ-AM DJ-RJ Texas 0 02-09-2003 02:02 AM
St. Patrick Rose? Zphysics1 Roses 2 22-03-2003 05:44 PM


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 08:39 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2004-2021 GardenBanter.co.uk.
The comments are property of their posters.
 

About Us

"It's about Gardening"

 

Copyright © 2017