Creating a Forest Garden
Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops

By Martin Crawford Photographs by Joanna Brown

Creating a Forest Garden

Garden Media Guild - Practical Book Finalist - 2010

Hardback, 384 pages £30.00
Published: 13th April 2010
ISBN: 9781900322621
Format: 275mm x 220mm

Click here to see ebook versions available
PDF, 384 pages
Published: 13th April 2010
ISBN: 9781907448300
Published: 13th April 2010
ISBN: 9781907448317

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Forest Gardening (or agroforestry) is a way of growing edible crops with nature doing most of the work. A forest garden imitates young natural woodland, with a wide range of crops grown in vertical layers. Species are chosen for their beneficial effects on each other, creating a healthy system that maintains its own fertility, with little need for digging, weeding or pest control. The result of this largely perennial planting is a tranquil, beautiful and productive space.

This book is a bible for permaculture and forest gardening, with practical advice on how to create a forest garden, from planning and design to planting and maintenance. It explains how a forest garden is designed from the top down: 

  • the canopy layer first,
  • then the shrub layer,
  • the perennial ground-cover layer,
  • the annuals & biennials
  • next, the climbers and nitrogen fixers
  • and finally the clearings, living spaces and paths.

Whether in a small back garden or in a larger plot, the environmental benefits of growing this way are great. Forest Gardens are a viable solution to the challenge of a changing climate: we can grow food sustainably in them without compromising soil health, food quality or biodiversity.

Forest gardens:

  • store carbon dioxide in the soil and in the woody biomass of the trees and shrubs.
  • enable the soil to store more water after heavy rains, minimizing flooding and erosion.
  • boost the health of the ecosystem, ensuring a balance of predators and beneficial insects because mixed planting is crucial to the scheme.
  • allows the soil to thrive because it is covered with plants all year round.

Creating a Forest Garden includes a detailed directory of over 500 trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, annuals, root crops and climbers. As well as more familiar plants such as fig and apple trees, blackcurrants and rosemary shrubs, you can grow your own chokeberries, goji berries, yams, heartnuts, bamboo shoots and buffalo currants.

Forest gardens produce fruits, nuts, vegetables, seeds, salads, herbs, spices, firewood, mushrooms, medicinal herbs, dye plants, soap plants, and honey from bees.

This book tells you everything you need to create your own forest garden with beautiful illustrations and helpful tips throughout.

Forest Gardening is a novel way of growing edible crops - nature does most of the work for you! A forest garden imitates young natural woodland, with a wide range of crops grown in different vertical layers, with little need for digging, weeding or pest control. Species are chosen for their beneficial effects on each other, creating a healthy system that maintains its own fertility, and also creating a beautiful space.

Creating a Forest Garden tells you all you need to know, whether you want to plant a small area in your back garden or develop a larger plot. It includes advice on planning, design (using permaculture principles), planting and maintenance, and a detailed directory of over 500 trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, annuals, root crops and climbers - almost all of them edible and many very unusual.

Foreword by Rob Hopkins                                


Part 1: How forest gardens work

1.  Forest gardens                                             

2.  Forest garden features and products          

3.  The effects of climate change                    

4.  Natives and exotics                                     

5.  Emulating forest conditions                        

6.  Fertility in forest gardens                            

Part 2: Designing your forest garden

7.  Ground preparation and planting                

8.  Growing your own plants                            

9.  First design steps                                        

10.    Designing wind protection                      

11.    Canopy species                                        

12.    Designing the canopy layer                     

13.    Shrub species                                           

14.    Designing the shrub layer                       

15.    Herbaceous perennial and ground-cover species         

16.    Designing the perennial/ground-cover layer    

17.    Annuals, biennials and climbers             

18.    Designing with annuals, biennials and climbers

Part 3: Extra design elements and maintenance

19.    Clearings                                                  

20.    Paths                                                            

21.    Fungi in forest gardens                            

22.    Harvesting and preserving                      

23.    Maintenance                                            

24.    Ongoing tasks                                          


Appendix 1: Propagation tables                       

Appendix 2: Trees and shrubs for hedging and fencing

Appendix 3: Plants to attract beneficial insects and bees

Appendix 4: Edible crops by month of use       

Resources: Useful organisations, suppliers and publications

A magnificiently produced tome that is sure to become every forest gardener's horticultural toolkit and bible.

- Grow It!

Martin has produced a book that is not only visually beautiful but very practical, offering advice on planning, designing, planting and general maintenance.

- Positive News

This book offers bountiful food for thought. If you are considering the creation or maintenance of a forest garden, then you would do well to have this book on your shelves. 

- Green Prophet

This seminal piece of work is not only visually enthralling, it's incredibly easy to use. It contains a level of detail and explanation that makes it a must read for anyone who is serious about building a truly sustainable forest.

- WWOOF Ireland

Visually stunning with beautiful photography and illustrations, accompanying very informative and well constructed text.

- Self Sufficient-ish Website

This book is a must if you are interested in producing food from your garden, becoming more self-sufficient or just curious about plants and their uses.

- The Cottage Gardener

The ultimate book on the subject… extremely thorough and beautifully illustrated.

- Let's Talk (East Anglia)

This is a seminal piece of work on truly sustainable gardening, written with great spirit and soul.

- Alys Fowler, TV presenter and author of The Edible Garden

Martin Crawford has worked in organic agriculture and horticulture for many years. He is director of the Agroforestry Research Trust, a charity that researches temperate agroforestry and all aspects of plant cropping and uses, with a focus on tree, shrub and perennial crops.

Publication Details:

Binding: Hardback, 384 pages
ISBN: 9781900322621
Format: 275mm x 220mm
full colour illus

Binding: Electronic book text, 384 pages
ISBN: 9781907448300
Format: PDF
full colour illus

Binding: Electronic book text
ISBN: 9781907448317
Format: EPUB
full colour illus

BISAC Code:  GAR005000, GAR022000, GAR025000
Imprint: Green Books

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