The Essential Guide To Back Garden Self-Sufficiency Book Review

We all love a good new book! I often find myself scrolling through Amazon looking for something fresh to read. I really enjoy gardening and self-sufficiency books, and my shelf has many books on the topic. Recently I discovered the Back Garden Self-Sufficiency book, edited by Carleen Madigan.  If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you will know that we are currently trying to live a more self sufficient lifestyle and grow lots more of our own food, from our Urban Mini Farm.

Whether you’re planning on growing just a few rows of veg, create a patio garden or transform your whole back garden into a grow-your-own plot (like us) then this book is the perfect place to start. The book contains sections on vegetable growing, herb gardens, fruit, making preserves and even brewing your own alcohol! Something for everyone.

You can easily dip in and out of the book, and by no means has to be read front to back… although I do enjoy doing this, to get the most from any book. Everything written in the book is easy to understand, with everything discussed explained carefully, with no complicated language or terms used. The book contains beautifully drawn illustrations and easy to read charts, helping you to understand exactly what the author is talking about!

My Favourite Pages

The first thing that grabbed my attention is how easy the book is laid out, with clear to find chapters and lovely illustrations. The book starts with a basic explaination of Back Yard Self Sufficiency, and what it means and entails to try your hand at living a more self sufficient lifestyle. The book then goes on to predict how much food you back garden could produce depending on plot size (work depending of course!)

If fruit is your thing, there is a lovely in depth section all about planting, growing and harvesting your own strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Find out how you can preserve these fruits too, handy if you have a bumper crop and you want to enjoy the fruits of your labour (pun totally intended) all year round. Of course, the key to self sufficiency is making it last all year, else you will end up going very hungry throughout winter!

Fancy having a go at maing your own butter? There’s a recipe for that! And bread… and pasta… and even sauerkraut! We keep chickens, and this book has a wonderful section for people wanting to keep their own hens. A small flock of hens in any British back garden is a must! Not only do you have a steady supply of fresh eggs, but they also make wonderful friendly pets! This section of the book explains the basics of poultry keeping, how to make a secure chicken coop, how to get the most out of your eggs and (if you’re brave) how to prepare your chickens for the dinner table. Something I personally, could not do.

The Essential Guide To Back Garden Self-Sufficiency is edited by Careen Madigan, and published by Timber Press. The book contains 351 pages and has an RRP of £14.99

Buy the book

Looking for more books on Self-Sufficiency? Why not read my review of the popular John Seymour book The NEW Complete Book Of Self-Sufficiency.

The New Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency- John Seymour Book Review

For just over a year we have been starting our journey into living a more self sufficient lifestyle. Last year we put a lot of effort into our new home and garden. Lots of work was needed and whilst we managed to grow some food in our back garden urban mini farm, this year we aim to put 110% into our challenge.

I am always on the hunt for a good book to read and use as reference. Where ever I go I always check out the book shelves. Charity shops, carboots and even Poundland have delivered some awesome papery goods. My brother-in-law leant me his enduring copy of The New Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency by John Seymour and O.M.G this book is amazing! It has everything in there to get you started on your journey into self sufficiency. Where you just fancy growing a few vegetables in our back garden, taking on an allotment plot, or if you fancy turning 5 acres(!) into a fully working farm, John Seymour has all the tips and answers to your questions.

The NEW Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency – The classic guide for realists and dreamers-

This book was first published in 1976 and has sold more than a million copies world wide! An easy read, but not a small book, you can find information on everything you need to know to get you started on a serious journey into self sufficiency. With chapters covering (but not limited to!) the seasons, vermin control, managing various plot sizes, milking cows and goats, making wine and even making your own electricity. This 408 page book will keep you reading for a while! This book is probably the most well known and loved book ever published on the topic of self sufficiency.

The book is intended to be dipped in and out of, using it as and when you need it, but there’s nothing to stop you from reading it from cover to cover.  The language used throughout the book is easy to digest, and even the most novice of gardeners and beginners of self sufficiency will find this book easy to understand. The book also boasts clear illustrations and picture guides, just to help you digest all of the information and picture your goals easily.

My Favourite Pages

The first thing that grabbed my attention about this book is that no matter what your plot size, John Seymour has something for you. Whether it’s a small urban back garden, an allotment patch or a huge 5 acre holding he has perfect advice on how to arrange your plot, what to grow and when. John talks us through the changing seasons and what jobs can be done in each season. There is also advice on digging a deep vegetable bed, growing undercover (such as cold frames and greenhouses) and growing in containers.

You can find information about what to plant when, which is super handy when planning your growing year. The book also gives a decent write up about common vegetables and fruits you can grow, and tips for growing a plentiful crop of each. John covers in depth how to tackle problematic pests on your veg plot and how to deal with them whether you choose natural methods or chemical methods. Personally, I aim to have a completely organic garden, with no use of pesticides at all. John Seymour is so passionate about permaculture, you can tell that he knows a lot about organic gardening and finding alternatives to chemicals a much preferable method of pest control.

I thoroughly enjoy reading Seymour’s tips on preserving your crops. It’s pointless growing food if you are just going to waste it. Not everything can be eaten fresh, especially if you end up with a glut of something. Last year we were swamped with courgettes, picking 2 or 3 per DAY! John discusses how to make preserves, canned food, drying and even storing your food outside in underground ‘piles’. It’s all rather very clever, and means you shall be eating your yummy goods all year round.

Most gardeners who grow their own food will need to preserve their harvests at some point or another. The NEW Complete Guide To Self Sufficiency can help you with freezing and bottling your food, making jams and chutneys, brewing your own booze and even features some useful recipes.

As a reader, if you were considering keeping livestock, John Seymour also has some incredible advice on this too. We keep chickens in our back garden, but that is all we can keep. For those interested in keeping goats, cows and horses, there is plenty to read about in this section of the book.

I can easily see why The NEW Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency by John Seymour is considered a Bible for the self sufficiency movement. The book covers (nearly) everything you need to get you started living a more self sufficient lifestyle. Even if you are just starting to think about growing your own vegetables in a patio container, you have the enthusiastic spark to expand your knowledge for self sufficiency. There is something for everyone in this book, and I promise you, you shall learn a thing or two!

Buy The Book

Who was John Seymour?

John Seymour was the self sufficiency GOD. Born in 1914, he was a prolific writer for the self sufficiency movement and hated the modern way of living. He wanted people to enjoy a more simple way of living, turn their backs on consumerism and show us all that living a more self sufficient life wasn’t unachievable.

Known as the ‘Father of Self Sufficiency’, John wrote more than 40 books, so if you enjoy this book there is plenty more Seymour material to discover.