I received a review copy of “Backyard Farming on an Acre” by Angela England and was more than pleasantly surprised as I started reading through this jam packed book.
The book covers a multitude of topics and most everything you could think of when it comes to backyard farming (and what I call homesteading).
Here is a general overview of all the wonderful information you will find within the covers of this book:
Pros & Cons of moving/buying land vs. working with what you have — this is a topic I’ve pondered myself over the past year and Angela gives you lots of ‘food for thought’ when making your decision.
Tips on some of the important things to look for when searching for your land:
Soil quality (history of land use)
Amount of work and costs to make property suitable to your needs
Climate/Weather of area (and the microclimates)
Length of growing season
Angela talks about the importance of planning (this can save you a lot of hassles, expense, time and frustration)
Of course she covers the garden (one of the central items of a backyard farmer):
What and how much do you want to grow (Angela goes over some things to think about in order to plan your garden).
Discusses types of gardening (square foot, raised beds, traditional plots, etc.)
Goes over maximizing space (with vertical gardening and/or container gardening for instance)
She discusses how to make more of your space productive while keeping ‘curb appeal’ with edible landscaping.
Then Angela goes over the tools and some of the skills that you may use in your backyard farming (spades, digging forks, pruners, hoes, tillers, shovels, rakes, post hole diggers (very handy), wheelbarrows, wire cutters, and on and on the list goes as far as tools go – even covering ‘cobrahead cultivators’, something I, myself, have never used).
Angela talks about different types of soil and how to feed the soil (composting, fertilizers, etc.)
She goes over climate zones for planting
Then she discusses how to get the most from your garden with things like:
Extending your growing season
She moves into veggies and the best growing seasons for various types of vegetables (like beets being cool season and tomatoes being warm season veggies)
She doesn’t skip herbs – moving right into what she calls ‘Kitchen Herb Gardens’ where she discusses the different medicinal and culinary herbs.
Of course she doesn’t forget about the fruits and berries then many like to add to their ‘backyard farms’. Angela discusses many different plants, bushes and trees and how you can get your fruit fix on even an acre of land (or less).
Angela then talks about heirloom plants and saving seeds:
The savings in money vs a little extra work
Covers pollinated varieties
Regional variances available with heirloom varieties that allow the backyard farmer to choose plants better suited to their areas.
And goes into a pretty good depth of discussion on saving seeds
Angela then moves onto animals by discussing all things chicken:
Meat birds vs egg layers (and even dual purpose breeds)
Coops and the maintenance of your flock
Angela also covers rabbits, sheep, goats, and beekeeping with plenty of information on each.
She then covers how to manage your harvest and even includes a few recipes.
Canning and freezing
Dehydrating and smoking
Root cellars and basement storage
Then she moves into what she calls the ‘crafting’ of backyard farming – with things like:
Making butter, yogurt, and cheese
Getting sweaters made from your sheep
Brewing cider and wine
To wrap things up Angela throws in a few simple plans of things like cold frames, chicken coops and a goat pen.
This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in or backyard farming, whether beginner or pro. There’s bound to be something in it that you didn’t know or think of before reading this book. With all the information packed into one convenient place, this book is well worth the ‘cover charge’ to access the knowledge within.
Pick up your copy today and start living a more self-sustaining, freeing, happier life.