Book Club

The Self Sufficiency Manual book review

The Self Sufficiency Manual: A Complete, Practical Guide to Living Off the Land has been my regular nightly reading since my dad got it for me for Christmas.  This year we have made it our mission to live more self sufficiently. Despite living very frugally already by no longer buying nappies, baby wipes and even toilet paper, growing some of our own food and recycling and reusing what we can, we have come to the realisation that we really can do so much more to stop relying on heavily mass produced goods. As we approach the end of January my garden has already seen plenty of action. We have been clearing up the small growing space that we have, preparing our vegetable beds and sorting our seeds out ready for planting. I’ve even been able to get a few seedlings started off ready for planting out when the time is right.

the self sufficiency manual

The Self Sufficiency Manual by Alison Candlin, is the compete practical guide for beginners and those who are way more experienced than myself at living the self sufficient lifestyle. The book is more than just a gardening guide and contains the ins-and-outs of growing most well known (and many slightly less known) vegetables, fruits and herbs. There is information on what seasonal jobs there are to undertake, water and energy conservation, animal husbandry, preserving your food and even gathering food and fuel from the wild. Oh and trimming your bush. Literally of course.

We have a small back garden and an even smaller front garden. Sadly our back garden is mostly shaded by the house, but the front is a complete sun trap. We have decided to utilise every inch of space to efficiently and effectively grow enough food to feed our family of 5 as much as we possibly can. I am looking forward to this journey, and to see how we cope and adapt to this (rather fun) challenge. The drawing board is full of ideas, and some of which are a little bizarre. Who knew a kitchen sink made such a great planter for carrots!? At least it makes our neighbours’ kids’ laugh on the school run.

The Self Sufficiency Manual has clear easy to follow text, colourful eye catching photographs and diagrams throughout. From organising different sized plots of land to pruning and training a grape vine, this book clearly explains it all with it’s clear diagrams. The book contains a lot of written text but is divided up into easy-to-digest chunks of information that does not require you to read the book from front-to-back. You can simply pick up the book and flick to the bits you need.

the self sufficiciency manual

Stepping out of the garden and into the house, The Self Sufficiency Manual is packed with tasty recipes too. So after harvesting the fruits of your labours, you can cook up some yummy dishes to impress your family and friends over the dining table. There is a large section too on preserving your food from freezing, to dehydrating and even canning, so nothing need go to waste and you can enjoy your harvests all year round.

Animal husbandry is made exciting with useful sections on chicken keeping, milking your goats and even bee keeping, if any of those things float your boat (or ‘rock your barn’ I should say). We keep just 4 free-range chickens that produce enough eggs for my family to enjoy and I feel no need to keep any other animals. Not only do we just not have the space (and while my neighbours withstand a lot of our madness, I think a goat would tip them over the edge) we gave up eating meat and dairy (except for our lush eggs) last year. But for those who would like to expand their self sufficiency skills beyond the veggie patch there is plenty of information about keeping animals to certainly get you going to some degree.

Don’t expect to read the book and walk away as a fully impressive farmer (and my farming ancestors would chuckle at calling what we do ‘farming’) but as far as life-manuals go, this book really has caught my eye and kept me up way past my bedtime on many, many occasions. A well written book, for people of all ages and levels of their self sufficient journey. It certainly contains enough information within its 256 pages to get your journey into self sufficiency off to a cracking start. Oh and there is even a whole section dedicated to building your own composting toilet.
The Self Sufficiency Manual: A Complete, Practical Guide to Living Off the Land by Alison Candlin is £14.99 on Amazon, and the ISBN # is 978-1408156551.

me and margo


Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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