Put Your Backyard to Work!
It is amazing to me the resources that are now available to those of us who want to do more with our backyards then just have the perfect lawn. The Backyard Homestead, edited by Carleen Madigan is just the primer you need to get started on turning that boring old backyard into an organic, sustainable, and bountiful homestead.
This book guides you step by step through the planning stages to harvesting; whether you are working with a patio garden or two acres of land, it is possible to provide some of your own food. The chapters begin with an overview on constructing the home Vegetable Garden, the first line in this chapter makes reference to one of my favorite gardening memoirs “The $64 Tomato” reminding you that you don’t need a landscaper to construct a workable garden. In this chapter everything from starting plants from seed to extending your growing season is covered. The next chapter covers Backyard Fruits and Nuts, blueberries, strawberries, various fruit trees, and a special section on grape varietals with instructions on making your own wine. My favorite chapter by far is the one on raising poultry for eggs and meat. When I was growing up my grandparents kept a few chickens in our backyard, oh how I used to love when my grandmother would bring in those beautiful brown eggs from the hen house every morning. I would love to give my own girls such a wonderful experience, but at the moment my husband won’t even consent to a puppy or kitten let alone chickens…so we’ll see about that.
Interspersed throughout are basic recipes for jams, preserves, and homemade bread along with sections on canning, drying herbs, making cheese and butter, you name it. The information found is this book is just so useful and the ideas are attainable. Nothing too high brow or over the top, just the basics told in a reader friendly way.
Keep in mind this book is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to Gardening and Animal Husbandry there are many more in depth guides available to suit your ongoing needs. However, this book is a perfect place to start and with just a quarter acre of land you too can harvest 1400 eggs, 50 lbs of wheat, 60lbs of fruits, 2,000 lbs of vegetables, 280 lbs of pork, and 75 lbs of fruits and nuts. So what are you waiting for? Put your backyard to work!
Next Time –Adventures in Bread Baking
Heather Jones is a wife, mother, freelance food writer, and graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She has worked for Gourmet Magazine, TV Personality Katie Brown, and the New York based Indian-fusion restaurant Tabla. Heather resides in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters. She is a strong supporter of the Sustainable Food Movement and believes that education is the key to making a difference.