While I like to believe that I’m an expert in all fields of life, it just isn’t so. I can talk someone blue in the face about breastfeeding, skipping baby cereals, my love of bamboo cloth diapers, or how awesome having four boys is, but when it comes to gardening I’m a complete beginner.
I am proud of myself this year for getting a large container garden going and some of it is even showing signs of being a thriving shaded vegetable garden. After reading a couple of books, I feel I now know enough that in a few weeks I’ll be buying less of certain vegetables at the Farmer’s Market. Here are the top five books beginners should read to get started in a quest to garden, farm or homestead their land (or back porch like I do) according to me – a beginner gardening mom!
Backyard Farming on an Acre (more or less)
I need to give this book a proper review someday, and I will! Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (Living Free Guides) is the perfect book that covers multiple topics on a beginner level. Everything from having bees and goats to setting up a garden for the best results in providing food for your family. What I really love about this book is that there are recipes and suggestions for what to do with the honey and goats milk besides eating and drinking it, which of course is delicious on its own.
Vertical Vegetable Gardening
If you are like me, you are dealing with a small space for your vegetable garden. The Vertical Vegetable Gardening: A Living Free Guide (Living Free Guides) is a great answer for those small spaces. Using ideas from this book, I created a container garden on a vertical metal plant stand that really is maximizing my space on our back porch. Our yard has very poor quality of soil, and community restrictions on fencing prevents us from putting up ways to keep the deer from eating the food. There is page after page of useful information on exactly how to grow the maximum food in the smallest of spaces. Even great information on keeping the roots in top shape.
The Weekend Homesteader
I love simple, short projects. That is what draws me into The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency. This book is full of small projects that you can easily complete in one weekend. So if you think about it, there are just 52 small steps to providing for your family on a long-term basis. I don’t know about you but I can totally do that. The most awesome project in my mind is learning how to grow our own mushrooms right in our yard or home. I have a son that can eat an entire package in one sitting (takes after his mom). Being able to have our own harvest not only teaches him where they come from but also cuts some costs.
Canning for a New Generation
Our family has used mason jars for a long time. We use them to drink from, make sun tea, and store leftover foods and dry goods. Not what they were intended for, I know, but with the help of Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry, I’m slowly discovering that it’s going to be easy to make great sauces and dips from our back porch garden. I’m hitting up yard sales looking for the old school mason jars as it seems many are getting rid of them. Their loss, my gain. Being a total beginner, I love the explanations on not only how to do the canning but why it’s done a certain way.
Gardening Projects for Kids
An important part of being a parent is teaching our children how to survive and growing food is an important part of this. A ‘top list’ would not be complete without a mention of a book that focuses on how children learn and presenting gardening and discovering plants in a fun way. Gardening Projects for Kids: Fantastic ideas for making things, growing plants and flowers, and attracting wildlife to the garden, with 60 practical projects and 500 photographs is exactly as it says. Kids love getting their hands dirty. My son just dug into the carrot vegetable container that we had little seedlings in, just to dig. He learned a valuable lesson about the right time and place for digging and when we need to leave plants alone.
What is your favorite book for gardening, canning or homesteading?