Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City by Eric Toensmeier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Eric Toensmeier was writing and teaching about making edible forests but he was living in an apartment with a few plants in pots on the patio. He enlisted a student to work with him and they worked on some larger farms but decided to finally buy a place that they could make their own. They bought a duplex in Holyoke Massachusetts with a barren 1/10 acre lot and set out to make a edible landscape in a very cold part of the country.
The plan was pretty ambitious. They bought a duplex so they could live in one side and rent the other to raise money. Eventually they hoped to each meet women who wanted to be with them and then they could each have a side of the duplex. The lot was small and in horrible shape but in eight years they managed to get it to support over 200 varieties of edible plants.
This book is more inspirational than a straight how to. There are some pictures and some diagrams of the layout. I hadn’t heard of a lot of the plants that they have. They concentrate mostly on native plants that can survive a New England winter. They have a small greenhouse which they use mostly for salad greens in the winter.
This is something the husband and I would love to do. Our dream house is a dome with solar power and geothermal heat surrounded by food. We had a good start at our last house with the massive raised bed that was kindly filled by compost made from my horses’ manure. We could grow anything in that bed.
At this house we have the space but it is very shady and there are lots of deer that demolished our first attempt. Then we got lazy. We may be moving again soon and if it looks like we might stay put at a new house for a while I’d really like to use most of the lawn space for a combination of small fruit trees and berries combined with vegetables. I’m not sure I’m up for some of the more obscure plants they have but they have gotten me interested in paw paws.
[…] little scrub volunteer trees. I want to make this food producing so I took some inspiration from Paradise Lot and ordered some paw paw […]
If you don’t move, I know that there are some plants that deter deer from invading your yard but, and forgive me for being crude, you can always use human urine. Not a pleasant idea but it is very effective. You could collect it in a spray bottle and then spray the perimeter of your property and that should suffice. You’ll need to keep doing it, obviously, but you shouldn’t have to do it so often that a guest would step outside and wonder if your toilets are backing up into your back yard.
That said, here’s hoping you move to someplace you love!