Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre Paperback
Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham is a big book with beautiful photos that covers everything from buying seeds to canning, freezing and dehydrating vegetables. The book also covers (LINK) raising chickens for eggs and LINK for meat, growing fruit trees and vines, and selling your produce. But fourteen of the twenty-one chapters focus on growing produce using the intensive agriculture method, so if this is the information you seek, you’ll definitely enjoy this book.
Start a mini farm on a quarter acre or less.
Mini Farming describes a holistic approach to small-area farming that will show you how to produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter acre—and earn $10,000 in cash annually while spending less than half the time that an ordinary job would require. Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book covers everything you need to know to get started: buying and saving seeds, starting seedlings, establishing raised beds, soil fertility practices, composting, dealing with pest and disease problems, crop rotation, farm planning, and much more. Because self-sufﬁciency is the objective, subjects such as raising backyard chickens and home canning are also covered along with numerous methods for keeping costs down and production high. Materials, tools, and techniques are detailed with photographs, tables, diagrams, and illustrations.
Intensive mini-farming involves planting seeds in raised beds using within-row spacing in all directions, saving space compared to rows, and trellises are used for crops like pole beans, saving still more space. Markham is talking about mini farming, however, not gardening, so he scales concepts and approaches like square-foot gardening and adapts them to the needs of the small farmer who is growing food for his or her family as well as for market.
What I especially love about this book are the illustrations. The photos accompanying the how-to descriptions are priceless. I am a very visual person so when I can really see what I need to do to, for example, build a trellis out of electric conduit, I am a happy farmer who understands the presented concept clearly.
Mini Farming also covers how to time plantings for best yield; how to extend the season; how to make and maintain a compost system; watering and irrigation; how to size crops to feed a family; and starting and saving seeds. The chapters on raising chickens are a thorough and accurate introduction to keeping chickens for eggs or raising meat birds, and included are step-by-step slaughtering/processing photos. I also am eager to try my hand at building the Markham Farm Chicken Plucker! An entire chapter is devoted to the step by step construction of a chicken plucker. Plucking chickens is definitely the most time-intensive part of slaughtering your own chickens on the farm, and the lack of a plucker (or the money to buy one) has led us to have our chickens processed at a facility instead of on the farm. This handy device might just change our minds!
It’s a challenge in any book of this scope to make the information understandable to the lay reader without getting too in-depth and ending up with a 400-page tome. Markham does a great job of this, though the focus is mostly on growing vegetables using his intensive agriculture method – so folks who want to learn how to raise sheep or goats will need to find that information elsewhere. The chicken information is definitely enough to get you started, though, and overall I thought this was a terrific book for anyone thinking about starting to farm on a small scale. It does not mean you have to have only 1/4 acre, but you will find a way to grow vegetables efficiently, with less time spent weeding and watering, with Markham’s method.
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