BOOK REVIEW The Backyard Homestead Guide to Growing Organic Food

Published on 6 May 2024 at 15:59

The Backyard Homestead Guide to Growing Organic Food

by Tanya Denckla Cobb

Storey Publishing, LLC, 2024, 328 pages


Most reference guides while being full of information, are for the most part very boring.  Not so with The Backyard Homestead Guide to Growing Organic Food.  It is filled with tips and information any organic grower would want to delve into.  There is information on over 62 different crops, and it covers how to start it from seed, how to plant it and how to harvest.  Even the homesteader with just the smallest of space can get in on growing a self-sustaining garden.  Building up the soil with amendments will attract beneficial insects and in turn, the insects and earthworms will get to work making the soil even more beneficial.  Mulching and composting are talked about, all doing it on a budget and raised beds are covered too.


There's even a chapter on herbs. The author states, "Beyond these bountiful gifts that herbs offer to us, you know their most amazing quality of all?  They are easy!  They require little fuss, most are pest-free, and most are easy to grow in small spaces or on windowsills."  I also appreciated the chapter on controlling insects and animals.  One of the most frustrating things to being a gardener is to have your efforts thwarted when the deer find your spot a tasty treat, or the slugs move in and strip your plants bare.   Last the author tackles companion planting and gives you resources and other books you might find of interest.  Companion planting has changed, and the author tackles the new scientific trials being made.  "For example, in field trials a particular species of marigold was shown to repel nematodes, but only in mass plantings.  Small plantings of marigolds next to the target crop resulted in decreased yields.  Therefore, in the chart...every effort has been made to include information from as many scientific trials as possible," the author said.  Clearly this reference guide is needed on a homesteader's or gardener's bookshelf and is a good one to have on hand to solve any gardener's problems.  


Tanya Denckla Cobb is an author known for her work on environmental mediation and food system planning. She has written books such as “The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food” and “Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement is Changing What We Eat.” She is also the Associate Director of the UVA Institute for Environmental Negotiation and teaches food system planning at the University of Virginia.  The Backyard Homestead Guide to Growing Organic Food is her latest work.


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