Book Review :: The Backyard Homestead
Edited by Carleen Madigan, Storey Publishing 2009
As a heavy reader, I bore quite easily if a non-fiction book doesn’t get to the point or is too “fluffed up” with redundant information. This is certainly not the case with The Backyard Homestead. So many relevant subjects are covered for the beginner, the experienced, and the space-challenged alike.
Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about this book. It starts out with visual examples of what you can do with one-tenth, one-quarter, or one-half of an acre. I loved being able to open up the first few pages to show my husband exactly what more we could be fitting in our small space here. The great illustrations and examples of seasonal garden layouts really help you to imagine your own well-manicured lot in bloom. All of the different subjects are delivered clearly and definitely and even include tips, tricks, and troubleshooting.
The Backyard Homestead covers everything I’ve been trying to look up on the Internet in one convenient spot with everything from building different types of cold frames to what should be pressure canned and what can go in the water bath canner. Crop rotation plans and planting guides for common garden fruits and veggies come in handy everywhere throughout the book.
This book also has a wonderful section on growing, harvesting, and cooking your own grains. I would have never known that rye is a grain that is not only easy to grow, but it loves poor soil (something we have in abundance) and it does not have hulls that need to be removed. There isn’t a homesteading book I’ve read yet that has a whole chapter on grain comparisons and growing your own for bread.
I love that it features the less obvious aspects of homesteading. Less popular subjects are given new life for backyard homesteader such as: rabbits (thank you), how to handle your fresh milk, meat cuts, sausage, smokers (I want to try to build one this summer), and the ins and outs of beekeeping. All the things we micro-farmers thought only the big guys could do now seem that much more attainable in small spaces. This book will be a treasured reference on my bookshelf for years to come.