The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!
I recently purchased the book The Backyard Homestead by Carlene Madigan (ISBN-10 1603421386 / ISBN-13 978-1603421386). I found it to be a great introduction on the various fruits, nuts, vegetables, animals, and other items that you can have yourself; even in your urban backyard. This is a great book to keep around for getting ideas for next year’s garden, figuring out how to preserve your harvest, and even giving me some ideas on how to incorporate animals into your food sovereignty plan.
Also, if any friends, family members, or spouses are reluctant to explore producing their own food, this is a great book to leave laying around for them the possibly pickup. Covering most topics that a backyard homesteader may want to research, this book does make things seem quite simple and accessible to most people.
Vegetables are a staple of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Problem is, you never know what you are getting in the grocery store. Sprayed with chemicals, harvest before being ripe, or shipped from thousands of kilometers away. Growing your own vegetables is the best first step in growing your own food. You can grow all your own organic veggies for a fraction of the factory farmed grocery store stuff. How about some garlic, spinach, sweet potato, horseradish, or eggplant?
A real strength of this book is the information and selection of vegetables. From the usually carrots, onions, and tomatoes, to the less utilized leeks, kale, and beets. You will never have a lack of ideas during your springtime planning.
Nut & Fruit Trees
Trees aren’t something that you take on only for one year, but are very worthwhile if you have found a forever home. Everybody knows they can grow apples, plums, and pears. But did you know that you can grow figs or persimmons. Add in some cherries and peaches to round things out.
Nut trees are another welcome addition to the backyard homestead; plant yourself some walnut, hickory, hazelnut, or chestnut trees. You can eat the nuts, use for baking, or even
Chicken and poultry
If gardening is the gateway drug into homesteading, then chickens are the same for raising animals. Factory raised eggs are terrible. It doesn’t matter if you get the cheap ones or expensive ones, white or brown ones – they aren’t raised with your health and nutrition in mind.
Starting with chickens for eggs, the book discusses the various breeds and their benefits. Finally moving into meat chickens, ducks, geese, and other fowl.
Much more intensive than anything else in this book, you can raise your own meat. From small, easy, productive rabbits, to lamb, pig, or even cattle if you have the room. Just as with eggs, farm-raised meat can never compare with what you can raise at home.
The breed of rabbit, sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle are discussed and the benefits of each are explained.
Bored with veggies, fruits, eggs, and meat – try raising your own dairy.
This is not for the faint hearted, lazy, or time-strapped individuals. Animals must be milked daily and at the same time each day. Don’t try this if you’re a travelling salesman or can’t commit – but something to consider.
Foraging for wild edibles, beekeeping for honey, and making maple syrup are all topics covered in the book. Whether you’re interested in wild blackberries, collecting stinging nettles, or want to start your own small apiary to produce honey for you family, this book will give you the ideas.
Freezing, canning, and fermenting are presented as ways to preserve your harvest for later in the year.
Making jams with your fruits, butter with your cream, or cheese & yogurt with your milk are more enjoyable ways to preserve your foods.
Don’t forget to pickle your cucumbers, whip up some relish, ferment some sauerkraut, dehydrate some fruit, make hot pepper sauce, and dry out those extra herbs.
My Favourite Book This Summer
This was the the best book of the summer for me this year. So many ideas, so many things I can do, so much to look forward to over the next summers.
Large enough to give you lots of ideas, but not to in-dpeth to be overwhelming – this book is a good introduction.