A couple months ago, I won a book over at Stone SouP. Katrina, blog owner and dear friend, has a weekly book giveaway. This was the first time I’d won after entering nearly every week for the last two years. During that time, I’ve enjoyed getting to know Katrina, talking sustainable farming and horses, reading book reviews and happenings in her life.
The drawing I entered and won was for a book of my choice. I chose Mini-Farming- Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham, as we have less land and less space here in Georgia. Of course, I chose this book before finding out the LL would not let me put in a garden at all! However, I still read and enjoyed the book. After all, there’s always something to learn and store away for future knowledge, right? Right!
One of the first things you notice upon picking up this book is that it’s hefty in weight and filled with photographs. Author Brent L. Markham covers nearly every topic under the sun for how to make your land self-sustaining on just a quarter of an acre. Hard to believe you could do such a thing on such little land, I know! He delves into the realm of square foot gardening, traditional double digging, the pros and cons of various fertilizer and other money saving tips and techniques. Mr. Markham even talks about growing and processing your own grains, something which I had never considered or thought could even be accomplished on less than an acre before.
Mini-Farming talks about the pros and cons of each type of crop, how to get the most bang for your buck, what fruits might produce the best and provide the largest crop, how to amend your soil, even how much food to grow per person in your household. Additionally, this book gives ideas of how to even generate some additional income with the crops you grow.
*If you are at all squeamish, please skip the next paragraph.
Mr. Markham does a wonderful job walking the reader through how to raise your own chickens for meat and eggs. He discusses tools of the trade, shows a photo of a cone set up for butchering, and once plucked, how to cut up your food. He even includes plans for a homemade chicken plucker, something I appreciate if I ever get the chance to raise any of my own food again.
However, he does not discuss raising rabbits, which are prolific breeders and not overly expensive to keep. Nor does he mention that their droppings can be immediately applied to the garden as fertilizer, not having to “cool” as other manures can require so as to not burn the roots of plants with the nitrogen content. (Yes, this is something I’ve considered recently).
I love that this book walks you through putting up and storing your produce. From canning to freezing, drying and saving seeds, the methods are shown in photo and explained so they can easily be followed by anyone. To me, some methods of canning have always been intimidating after growing up hearing horror stories of what can go wrong with pressure canning. But here, Mr. Markham directly addresses those fears, leaving one feeling confident enough to try the techniques he discusses.
In short, I think this book is a wonderful education guide for anyone looking to grow even a small part of their own food but feel intimidated to try. Having read a lot of other books on this topic, I feel this is the most user and beginner friendly book I’ve seen so far. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in sustainable farming.