The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need on Just a Quarter Acre!
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The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need on Just a Quarter Acre!

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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  2,820 ratings  ·  252 reviews
Put your backyard to work! Enjoy fresher, organic, better-tasting food all the time. The solution is as close as your own backyard. Grow the vegetables and fruits your family loves; keep bees; raise chickens, goats, or even a cow. The Backyard Homestead shows you how it's done. And when the harvest is in, you'll learn how to cook, preserve, cure, brew, or pickle the fruits...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 11th 2009 by Storey Publishing, LLC
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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanSilent Spring by Rachel CarsonThe Backyard Homestead by Carleen MadiganFarm City by Novella Carpenter
best sustainability
4th out of 147 books — 174 voters
The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla EmeryThe Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John SeymourThe Backyard Homestead by Carleen MadiganPut 'em Up! by Sherri Brooks VintonSeed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth
Homesteading
3rd out of 146 books — 78 voters


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Gwen the Librarian
I've been reading and playing around with this book for the last month and I really love it. The tone is totally accessible for those interested in gardening, raising grains, or animal husbandry. The author shows how to make the most of small spaces from 1/10 acre up to 1/2 acre. I used her raised bed diagrams to plan my own and suggestions about what things to plant next to each other. I'm thinking about getting a couple of chickens on my city property and she has great advice about that too. T...more
Mark Geiger
Although not a definitive guide to how to do everything to raise your own food, this book does touch on the basics, and gives you an idea of what to do and what is needed. After that, you can use some of the many other resources that are listed to get into whatever depth level you wish.

That said, this is an eye-opening, very enjoyable book, one that shows just how easy itcan be to grow at least some of one's own food. I recently moved to a more rural area with just that in mind, but had no exper...more
Bird
This book didn't work for me for a number of reasons...

1. This book tries to do the old "everything for everyone" feat, and fails. Too many topics are (attempted to be) covered in the single volume, so that each is dealt with only superficially.

2. Related to the first issue, topics are given uneven consideration. Container gardening was given 1.5 pages. Choosing the right breed for laying/meat chickens was given 5. I'd bet good money that the number of people who would be interested in (and abl...more
Jimmy
This is a good book for helping you to understand the potential of the lanscape that's available to you. There are some good tips on which vegetables, fruits, and herbs grow best in which climate regions, information on how to utilize space, and other helpful information.

There are also pieces on making your own ice cream, apple cider, beer, wine, maple syrup, and other seasonal treats. However, I felt as though the author didn't go into enough detail or offer alternatives for folks that don't ow...more
Elisabeth Hurley
I just finished flicking through this one again, and I'm dreaming of a slightly bigger piece of land, no hoa, and miniature dairy goats...

I love this book. It really gets you excited about the potential of your backyard. It works as a quick primer for growing vegetables, making your own wine, cheese, and all sorts of great things, but the information on each of these topics doesn't get too deep. If you really want to know how to make wine, for example, you can read the section in here first to s...more
Sally
I'm ashamed to admit it, but graphic design, pretty colors, attention to fonts (type and size), nice line drawings, and boxed quotes in the margins made me eat this book right up.

Funny thing is, the content is not much better than that of Deliberate Life, but I gave it 2 more stars....

Things I learned in this book:

I can get my Brussels sprouts to get bigger by picking the leaves off the plant once the sprouts have developed. *THAT'S* how they do it....

It's too bad I don't drink beer, because ma...more
Stephanie Johnson
This book could be the only one that I need for my homesteading project. It is detailed enough to get you started and then I believe that your own experiences would get you through more and more. I was very interested in the goat section as I have only even owned one goat and she was never kidded nor milked. The chicken section was less than my current knowledge but it did raise some good points for beginners. I think this is an excellent book to start with if you have some knowledge but not a l...more
Lily
This was an intriguing book, but not really practical for my purposes. I don't have the resources or ability to really do anything, and I am not that much of a gardener so the book wasn't all that interesting to me. I skimmed over quite a bit too.

This book covers just about every topic you could think of when it comes to homesteading, but it only covers a little bit of each topic. Put into actual use, this book would be nowhere near enough to help you do any of the things it talks about. You wo...more
Karen
Jul 15, 2009 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to live as self-sufficiently as possible.
What a wonderful reference for living as sustainably as possible on your own land - even if you only have a quarter acre! Although I cannot have livestock or even chickens in my city, this book provided a wealth of information about gardening, preserving, making cheese, growing and processing grains, baking bread, even brewing beer. I purchased this book to learn about gardening, and I was not disappointed. It has a handy reference for planting and caring for many kinds of veggies, fruits, nuts,...more
Stephanie
May 06, 2011 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to be more self sufficient.
Recommended to Stephanie by: Amy R
This book is awesome. It's just what I needed. This was a gift to me from a friend and it is such a great resource. The second me and my husband picked this sucker up we started making improvements to our property. This book is never on my bookshelf, its outside with us, in my truck or on the kitchen counter. It provides just enough information for you to do it yourself. Many different projects and subjects in this book, but it doesn't leave you wanting - its not a complete encyclopedia on each...more
Patricia
I was disappointed in the Readers-Digest-type format of the book. Just when you get some good information, it's time to move on to something else. Plus, I'm not sure that I trust the accuracy of the information - there are much better guides (especially for animal care) out there. Lastly, I think this book would have been more useful if I lived in Massachusetts instead of in the south. Very little information about southern gardening; tons of info on cold-weather gardening. So, while this was so...more
January
Apr 13, 2014 January rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: someone who new to the idea of urban homesteading
I am conflicted about this book. On one hand, it is well-layed out, and has great typography and illustrations. The writing is simple and clear. The content is well-organized, well-indexed, with a substantial appendix and list of resources. The topics are all-encompassing, from the obvious homesteading topics (gardening, chickens) to the more obscure (maple syrup, barley malting).

My main issue with this book is the lack of in-depth information. Most topics last 2-6 pages, of large illustrated a...more
Teleia
When I think of homesteading, I think of being able to feed myself and of being self-sustaining. If that's your goal, I think John Seymour's "The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It" is a better choice.

It's not that this is a bad book, but it covers just the very basics. It's very easy to read and goes quickly, but I would never use this as a reference guide. On the other hand, John Seymour's book is almost all you need.
Celeste
I did not read everything in The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need on Just a Quarter Acre! word-for-word. I just read the sections that interested me and browsed through the various categories and chapters.

Personally, it is a nice overview of homesteading, but not enough comprehensive depth if you really wanted to do so. The reference list in the back is extremely helpful for more in-depth details on specifics like chickens, pigs, and goats, etc. I think to really raise these ani...more
Lea
This book is wonderful if you have dreams of getting "back to the earth". Full of detailed information, this book is a great resource to use when planning your backyard homestead -- it covers everything from growing vegetables and fruit to canning, raising livestock, even butchering (just touched on, but there is a list of further resources listed in the back of the book). Highly recommend.
Stacey
This is the first spring where I have a backyard and am planting a garden and I really love this book. Filled with great information and a great reference book. I can't wait till I have more space available and can make beer & wine from home grown barley, hops and grapes. And a chicken coop. And maybe a goat. Oh the possibilities!
Amber
I picked this up at the library, but it's definitely one I'm going to have to buy to keep ‎around the house.‎
Excellent instructions on how to do basically everything, from picking the right plants ‎for your zone to making your own beer. ‎
Erica
Inspiring as a basic overview of what can be done with a half acre lot.

Unfortunately, the authors seem to count on the whole lot being usable and had no section on ecology or integration of natural ecosystems with your homestead.
atiera
I read it and read it and read it again. And I'll continue to use this as a resource each spring and an inspiration each winter:)
Michael
Too basic to be of much use. Try the Encyclopedia of Country Living instead.
Barks & Bites
This book contains a really nice overview of many topics for anyone starting out on the path of self-sufficiency. It doesn't go into great detail about any of them but gives a newbie a starting point to begin a more self-sufficient lifestyle and has a decent source of website and book recommendations for further research. It is inspirational for those thinking self-sufficiency is a nice little dream and nothing more.

The author includes diagrams in the very beginning which clearly illustrate how...more
Experience Life
Find yourself enticed by the prospect of a food garden but have no clue where to start? Think you probably don’t have enough space or enough time? Think again. Whether you’re an urban apartment dweller or a suburban homeowner with acreage to spare, this jam-packed resource will provide nearly all the information and inspiration you might need to begin producing and preserving your own food.

The first chapter covers backyard gardening: watering, composting, seed-spacing and the like, along with ho...more
Carrie
This book doesn't satisfy my desire for homesteading knowledge, which the author states plainly in the beginning wasn't her goal. The gardening section of this book is definitely the main focus. I loved the diagrams of gardening plans but I wish there were more in this book on the planning and designing of the small homestead. The section of edible ornamentals was really interesting and helpful. I think she could have improved this book drastically by concentrating on SMALL, as in what you can d...more
Neligh
Every once in a great, great while I come across a book I want to give to everyone. This is one of them. I am in an apartment, but I am still using this book (and my standard-size balcony/kitchen counter) to grow limes, thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, mint, pennyroyal, and aloe. I want to add lemons, tomatoes, peppers, and garlic and amazingly it just might all fit (and that's with a table and two chairs out here). I could easily see getting carried away enough to remove the door to the balcony...more
Alison Furlong
Every now and then I wish there were a 4.5 star option, or perhaps separate ratings for writing and editing. The information in this book is fantastic - 5 stars definitely - but there are editorial gaffes that really annoy me. In particular, one chart is supposed to give you an idea of how much of a given plant you need to feed someone for a year. This is an excellent idea, but the execution is weak. For one thing, it falls into the (not uncommon) pitfall of conflating plant spacing and row spac...more
Bethany
I have always enjoyed the thought of producing your home-grown food in your own backyard and the idea of making things yourself like cheese, ice-cream, butter, etc. I just love homesteading's premise and though I've not been able to put it into much practice since we don't have a lot of land, we have recently endeavored to plant a garden and raise chickens, and I found this book very helpful in the process of getting advice on both gardening, chicken raising and a bunch of other homesteading rel...more
Tinea
Jan 29, 2012 Tinea rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tinea by: Katie
I have skimmed this numerous times at my best friend's house after she and the babies have been put to bed and I'm cozying up on the couch, raiding the bookshelf to pass time given our different sleep schedules. The other night on a visit I got to give it the closest read yet, and it's so good, but not quite good enough to merit a loan request from my library back home. The garden planning sections were the most useful for me (or perhaps just most pertinent). The book gives wonderful suggestions...more
Russell
The breadth of this book is amazing. From growing vegetables, canning, raising livestock from chicken to cows, making hard and soft cheeses, to how to prune trees and bushes, the books covers a lot of ground. The editor, Carleen Madigan, pulls information out of dozens of books from the Storey publishing house and compiles it all into a very easy to read format. In short, the book gives you an overview on how to grow or raise your own food and what to do with it after harvest.

I’m a novice, I tri...more
Carlie
You know a book is good if its written by a woman named Carleen. Heh. But, really to be serious, this book was great! Totally inspiring information about the details of setting up a backyard hobby farm that is just large enough to sustain or supplement a single family. She gives layouts for a "homestead" on as little land as one-tenth of an acre. I am shooting for a home with an acre of land but because of her ideas I've become slightly more open to a smaller parcel...turns out, if the land is r...more
jen
The audience for this book is someone who is interested in learning more about homesteading and self-sufficiency skills, such as gardening, food preservation, and raising animals. The book provides good overviews of each topic accompanied by clear and understandable drawings. The content is reliable and well-written, coming from a longtime publisher of homesteading books (much of the content is pulled from other Storey titles, and this book is partly a chance for them to capitalize on the homest...more
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