Permaculture for the Rest of Us: A Review and a Giveaway

Permaculture for the Rest of Us: A review and a giveaway

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Read to the end to find out how you can win a copy of Permaculture for the Rest of Us: Abundant Living on Less than an Acre by Jenni Blackmore.

Permaculture for the Rest of Us: A Review

To the uninitiated, “permaculture” may be an intimidating term.

Sure, I had heard of permaculture, but I never bothered figure out what it was. I assumed it required an in-depth knowledge of soil chemistry, a penchant for complicated mathematical calculations, and acre upon acre of farm land. I have none of those things. End of story.

So when I was given the opportunity to read and review Jenni Blackmore’s book, Permaculture of the Rest of Us: Abundant Living on Less than an Acre, I was intrigued.

Abundant living on less than an acre? Why, that sounds familiar. After all, I produce much of my own food on a 1.1 acre suburban lot and have been doing so for years. I garden. I raise chickens. Could it be? Could permaculture actually apply to me?

As it turns out, I’ve been practicing permaculture right here in Royal Oaks all along.

Like me, author Jenni Blackmore was applying permaculture principles at her home before she realized what she was doing. But Blackmore’s story of how she adopted a self-sufficient lifestyle is much more compelling than any anecdotes about my cozy little life in suburban Cedar Rapids.

A self-described “accidental permaculturalist,” Blackmore fell into self-sufficiency by necessity. As a single mom with a tiny budget, she moved to a less-than-hospitable island off the coast of Nova Scotia. When the cabin roof leaked, she collected rain water and melting snow in garbage cans to make up for a lack of indoor plumbing. That rudimentary water collection system gave her the idea to add a cistern to the basement of the home she was building. Faced with substandard soil and wanting to grow food, she gathered seaweed and fallen leaves to add organic matter to her vegetable plot. To rid the garden of a slug problem, she got ducks, whose eggs and meat became additional sources of food.

In Permaculture for the Rest of Us, Blackmore explains the concepts and principles of permaculture – essentially, developing a site that sustains itself and meets the needs of all its inhabitants – in an entertaining and accessible way. Reading more like a memoir than a how-to manual, the book explains such permaculture practices as building soil (OMG, did I just get a lesson in soil chemistry without even realizing it?!), raised bed gardening, and using a greenhouse to extend the growing season.

Throughout the book, Blackmore provides practical advice for everyone based on her personal experiences. Those new to gardening will appreciate the chapter dedicated to four fail-safe starter crops. Veteran vegetable gardeners will learn the benefits of integrating poultry to create a perfect closed-loop system in the garden. Others looking to up their growing game (that’s me!) will take inspiration from Blackmore’s tips on seed-saving.

The key takeaway from Permaculture for the Rest of Us? If Blackmore can live abundantly on her little piece of the earth, anyone can become at least a bit more self-sufficient wherever they may be. As Blackmore emphasized, there are no problems in permaculture, only creative solutions. Permaculture is a common-sense way of living and working in harmony with one’s surroundings so that each gives back to the other.

12 ways I am practicing permaculture and didn’t even know it:

  • I compost kitchen waste to feed the soil
  • The compost bin is made from recycled wood pallets.
  • My chickens and garden form a loop – I give the chickens garden waste and they turn it into eggs for the household and compost for the garden.
  • We don’t use chemicals in the garden or on the lawn. Instead, I pull dandelions and other weeds by hand and feed them to the chickens.
  • The back third of the lot is timber, with wild fruit trees that feed the birds – and us. We use the wild plums and mulberries in cooking.
  • We collect runoff from the roof in a rain barrel that we use to water the garden.
  • I recycle things like toilet paper tubes and yogurt containers to use for gardening. Read about ten things that can be recycled for the garden.
  • We use fallen trees from the timber in landscaping.
  • We converted an existing structure – a fenced-in dog run – to make a chicken enclosure.
  • We created garden beds in another existing structure – a tiered retaining wall.
  • We plant flowers in the garden to attract pollinators and repel pests naturally.
  • We use a little greenhouse tent in the garden to extend the growing season.

Living a Permaculture Life

So this is what permaculture looks like.

Permaculture for the Rest of Us: A Review and a Giveaway

Extending the growing season with a greenhouse tent

Permaculture for the Rest of Us: A Review and a Giveaway

Growing food

Permaculture for the Rest of Us: A Review and a Giveaway

Preserving food

Permaculture for the Rest of Us: A Review and a Giveaway

Converting a dog run into a chicken enclosure

Permaculture for the Rest of Us: A Review and a Giveaway

Feeding kitchen scraps to the chickens

Permaculture for the Rest of Us: A Review and a Giveaway


Permaculture for the Rest of Us: A Review and a Giveaway

Taking care of the pollinators

How do you live in harmony with your environment? What can you do to make your co-existence with the land more harmonious? Let Permaculture for the Rest of Us inspire you to greater self-sufficiency.

Note: I received two copies of Permaculture for the Rest of Us: Abundant Living on Less than an Acre in exchange for this review; however, all opinions expressed herein are my own.


Permaculture for the Rest of Us: A Giveaway

Enter up to three times between May 1 and 8, 2016 for a chance to win your own copy of Permaculture for the Rest of Us: Abundant Living on Less than an Acre by Jenni Blackmore.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. age 18 and older. No purchase is necessary. Each entry affords one chance to win. All entries must be received by 12:00 a.m. CDT on May 8, 2016. One winner will be selected at random and notified by email.


Don’t want to wait for the giveaway? Click on the image below to purchase Permaculture for the Rest of Us: Abundant Living on Less than an Acre from (affiliate link):

Permaculture for the Rest of Us: Abundant Living on Less than an Acre

  • Lauren

    I have a teeny tiny backyard on a townhouse, but I still have a small compost bin, garden vertically a lot, and take advantage of a small community garden plot near my house.

    • That’s awesome, Lauren! Vertical gardening is a great way to get more growing space, and you are lucky to have a community plot nearby. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Bill

    I never win anything but hope springs eternal.

    I’m proud to say we have been practicing permaculture for years now…’s the only way to go, Deb, as you well know.

    • Hi Bill. Make sure to click on the Rafflecopter box above to submit your entries. I think you would really enjoy the book! It’s both entertaining and educational.

  • Alicia Winkler

    I don’t really know a lot about permaculture, but I am happy to hear your list of things you were doing without realizing it. Sounds like us!!

    • I don’t know why I assumed permaculture didn’t apply to me. The book was a real eye-opener and has me thinking of all the additional things I can do to work with my little plot of land. Thanks for reading commenting, Alicia.

  • Those are great ideas. I have been growing more food each summer and plan to try vertical gardening this year.

    • Deborah Neyens

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Recreational Gardener. I do quite a bit of vertical gardening. It’s a great way to save space!

  • denise

    Permaculture is amazing. I base my home around the concept and zones you set up for reorganizing your property. I am creating a urban garden on my 16 acres. I want the food, fruits and veggies as close as possible. I have chickens for eggs,meat and to work the land> they till soil better than I can. I am also putting in a food forest. Since working with the land my work load has gone down and production up.

  • Jeri Ellyn Holt Ross

    I would love to learn this. I live on less than an acre and would love to do this. I already compost.

    • That’s a great start, Jeri! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • Jeri Ellyn Holt Ross

        No problem. I am eager to get started!

  • Sue D

    My list is very similar to you list. We haven’t used a green house tent before but just moved to a house that has a little greenhouse attached to the garage. I am learning to use this.

    • I would love to have an actual greenhouse, but the tent does work pretty well. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Kristen

    I love the concept of permaculture, although I find the definition a little vague. As I understand it it’s sustainable agriculture while building up the land for the future. In that case, we utilize permaculture all the time in our gardens and orchard. My husband is currently fond of swales as we’ve been in drought-like conditions for a few years now.

    • Kristen, thank you for reading and commenting and sharing how you are using swales to adapt to your dry climate.

  • Jessica T

    We use a worm bin, but the overflow scraps get composted in the yard in our unused planter beds. I don’t know anything about permiculture, but I have heard of it and want to learn. Thank you for the chance to win a book!

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Jessica. The worm bin sounds like a great introduction to permaculture.

  • Shauna Bowling

    I’ve been dabbling in permaculture for the past few years. I don’t use any pesticides or commercial fertilizers. I recycle food scraps, lawn clippings, leaves, etc by adding them to my compost bin. I’ve also built two hugelkultur beds out of fallen limbs and yard debris, mixed with compost. I’m growing cucumbers and lima beans in one. The other needs a bit more time to break down (decompose) before I try growing anything in it. It’s fun and rewarding to see something nutritious growing in my back yard.

    • I am very interested in the idea of hugelkultur beds, Shauna. I have to figure out a good place to put one in my yard. And I think your last sentence sums it up perfectly – fun and rewarding! Thanks for stopping by.