So often I find myself wondering, "But how do you get to this point?" while reading a book.
A good example is: Once, when reading instructions in a cookbook, I was told to zest a lemon. That stopped me cold. What in the world does that mean? Granted I grew up in the 70s and in a family where "haute cuisine" meant the chemicals in the boxes had more syllables than usual. Thank goodness I could turn to "the Joy of Cooking" for answers in those dark days before the internet had such common knowledge!
My frustration level gets pretty high with most gardening books. My parents didn't garden and everyone I know are struggling with gardens and incomplete information. Going to my local garden center, chances are high that they neither have the time nor thing information themselves. If you can get the local extension agent to give you a call/shoot you an email, my hat is off to you. I wish authors would stop recommending the latter option. I don't even think such a thing exists! Heck, I couldn't get a local Gardening Club to give me information!
Authors generally make assumptions that you know basics. Perhaps you have hung around enough homesteaders but you certainly you have enough vocabulary to have picked up *their* awesome book. Ms. Madigan does not make those assumptions. She merely assumes that you are smart enough to be interested in the urban/suburban/homesteading/microfarm movements but not that you have the vocabulary or access to people to teach that vocabulary to you without exorbitant fees.
Most of us didn't grow up on farms and most of us interested in this movement are trying to find a way to not be forced to buy so-called organic produce that is twice as expensive but just as tasteless as the regular produce (for example). As such, Ms. Madigan's succinct, accessible writing style fill in many of those basic skill gaps to give us a more informed jumping off point. A decent appendix includes a good number of resources to get more focused information in areas that interest you a bit more!
Holly L. (irunamuk) reviewed The Backyard Homestead: Produce All The Food You Need On Just A Quarter Acre! on
Helpful Score: 9
Magnificent book for a beginner. This book has chapters on everything from herb gardens, raising veggies, caring for nut and fruit trees, raising and processing small amounts of grains, and Im not even done the book yet. Very simple and easy to understand instructions, lots of illustrations. Great for anyone who is tired of watching prices at the grocery store skyrocket.
An excellent introduction to homesteading topics. You will learn enough to understand "the lingo" and have an idea for which topics interest you enough to pursue them further. Of course, due to the broad scope of the book, nothing is explored in depth (except, interestingly, beermaking...). A little too basic to be of much interest to anyone with any experience, but a nice primer for the beginner.
This book contains a really nice overview of many topics for anyone starting out on the path of self-sufficiency. It doesn't go into great detail about any of them but gives a newbie a starting point to begin a more self-sufficient lifestyle and has a decent source of website and book recommendations for further research. It is inspirational for those thinking self-sufficiency is a nice little dream and nothing more.
The author includes diagrams in the very beginning which clearly illustrate how those with even 1/10th of an acre can grow a fair amount of food for a small family. There are also diagrams for 1/4 acre, 1/2 an acre and so on. Unfortunately for me, I can't use the diagrams as written because my house and land are plotted out differently and aren't fully usable but with some tinkering I hope to figure things out. At the very least I will know what should items should be planted next to each other.
With a little more land you can keep chickens, rabbits, hogs, even more veggies and some fruit trees. Once you decide what you want to do with your land you'll want to do further research into topics such as animal husbandry, canning, husking grains, sanitizing your tools, etc. This isn't a keeper for me because it doesn't give enough information about anything to justify me purchasing a copy but it's a great intro. to homesteading.
This homesteading really does focus mostly on food production in your yard. The various planting layouts are helpful, as are the detailed farming instructions. This is an EXCELLENT book for a beginning gardener who wants to homestead.
Good instructions, yield information, and preservation information. Information in zones 8 and 9 is pretty limited, though.