Backyard self-sufficiency, by Jackie FrenchThere is a certain glow for me when I think of self-sufficiency maybe its about all those episodes I used to watch of the 'Good life' a BBC series about a couple who gave up everything to become self-sufficient. For me Jackie French is the gardening equivalent to Jamie Oliver. A slap dash type of approach, compromise when needed. She makes you feel ok if you miss a step or two. I think this quote about 'digging' is typical:
"Don't dig your garden. If digging is your hobby, take up bowels instead - it's much better for the soil. Try the minimum-work gardens..."This book is not just about gardening it is broader, it is about self-sufficiency, which includes gardening, cooking and hints at been more self sufficient. One of the things that I liked about the book was Jackie has given self-sufficiency a go and found it pretty unrealistic. But you can still give it a pretty good go and be self sufficient in most things.
This is where the majority progress in home self sufficiency comes from. Jackie gives many of her hints at been as productive as possible without to much work. Yep I like this! Some of the hints include::
No dig gardens: basically layers of soils, hays, manures.
Perennials: Plant once and replant after 3 or more years.
Grains are also mentioned in self sufficiency, I have to admit that the idea frightens me. It seems to be it is the big jump to becoming pretty much all the way self sufficient.
One of the things that I discovered in the book was how much fruit you could grow even in a small backyard. The advent of dwarf root stock you can easily plant up to 12 fruit trees. In tight space these can be used as a boarder around fences. Jackie estimates that with 12 trees you can basically have one tray of fruit per week!
Most small animals are mentioned in the book, from snakes, hens, goats rabbits. What interested me are hens. Hens are really useful used for eggs, compost and (gulp) in Jackies case meat as well!
If you are keen on self sufficnecy you will need to know what to do when there is a bountiful crop. Jackie gives good hints on storing as well as preserving food. Most basic garden fruit and vegetables have been given a recipes. You will probably need lots of jars!
I think this book is a good beginning to becoming more self sufficient. Often I felt that some topics where just touched and a lot more detail could be given. What I'm finding in my trip towards sustainablity is you just learn as you go.