As many of you know I was extremely excited when this book and The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals arrived from Storey Publishing several weeks ago. I had thumbed through a copy at Kelsey’s house over a year ago and knew that it had great potential as a reference guide for our bookshelf. What I hadn’t anticipated was how much information really was packed into such a small book.
As such I have struggled for the past week or so on deciding what parts to share with you. I highly recommend checking out the interior parts of the book that they have available for viewing here using the Click To Look Inside feature, especially the table of contents is so artistic and unusual!
As we all know, content is king these days and if you are going to buy a book it needs to be chock full of information that is better organized and more interesting then what you can find on the web. I was extremely impressed by the span of topics covered in this book and the very visual interface it utilized. It is full of drawings and diagrams that are very well done, and has TONS of very helpful charts to help you make decisions on everything from what plants and trees to select for your zone, to what temperature your homemade wines should be served at.
The concept of being able to provide all the food your family needs on a quarter acre is a great one. And I truly believe it is possible as long as you realize that you are bringing in outside feed for your animals. But for many of us that’s a great option so that we don’t have to maintain a huge homestead. I don’t however think that on a 1/4 acre you can grow enough wheat to make it worth your while and do all the other things they mention. So buy wheat for your breadmaking and bring in your animal feed and yes with a bit of work you can most likely provide all or at least most of your food right in your backyard.
As a side note: Most cities however won’t let you do this very thing. Which really started irritating me. Then it started making me very angry. Finally I got so frustrated that I made a petition about it so that we can end this insanity. Please take a minute to sign the petition and share it with your friends.
Back to the book: I am particularly fond of the plant and herb indexes which breaks down tips and hints for each plant in the garden as well as a sketch of each one. This is so helpful! Just this last week I was been asked to help a lady get an overgrown garden pulled back into manageable shape and I will be taking this book with me to help me identify many of the plants in her patch that I am not familiar with.
I also learned about plants I didn’t even know existed, like Jerusalem Artichokes:
They are also known as sunchokes. The roots are edible and apparently they are incredibly easy to grow!
Which is dried for tea and used fresh in candy and cough syrup
Which is apparently part of the mint family. Very good at repelling insects especially fleas but can be toxic when ingested and can cause abortions and death to the mother. Eek!
Keeping in mind that there is a second book to this series (The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals) the bulk of the information and pages are taken up by the first three chapters. The second three are very concise but not packed with as much detailed information.
The book chapters are as follows:
The Home Vegetable Garden
Includes the individual breakdown of vegetable plants, starting from seed, planting and well as succession planting and plans, harvesting and saving seed.
Backyard Fruits and Nuts
Has very good sections on the different types of backyard fruits and nut trees. As mentioned it has great charts for helping to choose the right plants for your zone and space availability. I particularly appreciated the section on how to prune trees and berry vines. It was clear and concise with good drawings that I can reference out in the garden as I work.
Home Grown Grains
Grains on a mini homestead is an area I haven’t quite been able to wrap my mind around. With as little space as I have available grains seem like a waste to me. They take a lot of space and a lot of effort to get a finished product. But none the less I appreciated the info particularly for future reference when we have more space to garden. There are also great sections with recipes on bread, sprouting and beer and wine making in this section which are very good.
Poultry for Eggs and Meat
She covers a variety of breeds and basic details of raising the birds including coop plans. Nothing too in depth here but all the basic reference material you would want. More in depth info on poultry and the other animals is in the second book so I appreciate the lack of duplication of efforts.
Meat and Dairy
Same deal. She covers the basics thoroughly as well as getting into cheese and ice cream making briefly. A pleasant read.
Food from the Wild
Beekeeping, Foraging and Making Maple syrup get discussed in their own sub chapters here as well as extensive Dandelion recipes which I am eager to try next spring.
All in all this book is a must have for anyone who is exploring backyard homesteading. It is a great reference manual to have on your shelf and is one of my favorite books just to flip through and glean new tidbits in the evening. It’s a pleasant visual and informative experience and I know you will be pleased with your purchase!
Special thanks to Storey Publishing for the supply of our review copies and the giveaway copy!
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