Book Club

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.


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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  1. Going to show this blog post to my Dad. He would absolutely love something like this!

  2. I love that this book has something for everyone we have a small urban garden with just a small space for growing things so happy to hear the book could be relevant to us too!

  3. I really like the idea of a more ‘self-sufficient’ lifestyle, especially in an era which is controlled by technology. It is great that Seymour covers the basics for beginners too.

  4. We’d love to be self sufficient and that has been our dream for such a long time. Hopefully my folks will get there but they are definitely going to track down this book! It looks amazing!

    1. Have fun and get muddy! x

  5. I am so excited for spring and summer this year as we are developing our veggie patch and getting chickens too – the kids are beside themselves as we had them at our old house and couldnt bring them with us!

    1. Aww bless them! We have 10 chickens and getting another 4 this weekend. I’d never be without my girls now 🙂

  6. This book sounds really useful. Nice.

  7. This would have been right up my Grandad’s street, he loved growing fruit and vegetables

  8. I wish I had green fingers – my garden is mostly concrete so there is very little green in there! When it comes to my own place I will make sure the garden has some greenery so that I can get my fingers dirty! I have heard it to very therapeutic!

    1. I distress big time when in the garden. I like to listen to a Podcast while I dig and the day soon whittles away. Start small, with some easy crops in pots and you can’t fail! Have fun x

  9. I must admit, I always have the best of intentions when growing my own food, but it rarely lasts. I’ll have to check out this book and see if it will keep me on top of things.

    1. Best thing to remember is to start small and have fun!

    2. Best thing to remember is to start small and have fun!

  10. Wow what an amazing book and something we should all do a little bit more of. I’ve been thinking a lot lately how much we rely on technology for so much and things like supermarkets for food. I want to get this book and start doing a lot more to become more self sufficient. We always grow a few vegetables, but it would be nice to do more. x

    1. Good luck and have fun! There are so many excellent books on the subject but John Seymours is by far the most superior! x

  11. I love the idea of becoming more self sufficient and growing our own fruit and vegetables. It seems like this book would be the perfect place to start to learn more!

  12. What a great book, full of useful information for you. I love the pages to help what what and when to see thimgs. I would need that page as I would have no clue!

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