Thursday, May 1, 2014

Gardening Books that Have Changed Me

I know I've mentioned my life plans on this blog before, but it bears mentioning again.   I want to have a homestead where I keep chickens, bees, and maybe sheep.  I want to produce a wide range of perennial fruits, and vegetables and preserve the excess.  I hope to feed my family, and I hope to do it sustainably, using permaculture.

This dream is important to me.  However, this hasn't always been my plan.  In fact, when my brother in law kept chickens for one summer a couple years ago I thought it was slightly interesting, but a little too weird for me.

If he did the same thing this summer I think I would die of excitement.  I just want to keep chickens so badly.

These are the books that nurtured this dream in me.   If you are interested in sustainable living, or wondering what the heck is going on inside this hippie's head, I highly reccamend them.

The Omnivore's Dilemma isn't actually a gardening book. However, it is the first book that truly interested me in where my food comes from. Through an enticing narrative following four meals Micheal Pollan examines the ecological consequences of our food production system in America. He goes over the industrialized system and its problems then details alternatives. It was this book that made me want to make ecologically conscious decisions in the supermarket. Later on, it was also this book that helped me decide that I was okay with breeding and slaughtering my own animals.

Gaia's Garden is an extremely obtainable guide on how to do what I want to do.  If the Omnivore's Dilemma piqued my interest and inspired me, than Gaia's garden gave me the tools.  It's very clear,
and explains the science behind it's instructions.  If you garden at all I recommend you look at this book. The common sense methods will help anyone produce more food, or conserve more resources. It was after reading Gaia's Garden that I started to form my plans for the future, although my ideas were more modest in the beginning

These two books are ones that I currently own.   The next two are still on my to-buy list, although I have read both thanks to my school's library*.

This two volume set is the most expensive on the list, topping out at nearly ninety dollars at the time of this writing.  It goes over the same material as Gaia's garden but in a more detailed and scientific manner.  Its perfect logic and thorough explanations have kinda of ruined me for other, plainer gardening books.  In comparison to Edible Forest Gardens those other books leave me without any proper scientific explanations.  These books bother to answer my questions, which is something I have come to appreciate in a book. This set is closer to a college level of reading, the books certainly heft like textbooks, but worthy of a try if sustainability is something that you are interested in.  I know that when Josh and I get land it will be edible forest gardens that will be my primary guide.

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties  is simply fantastic.  It's scientific, but still passionate. Carol Deppe  thoughtfully goes over how to breed vegetables, whether you have a specific goal in mind or simply want to save your own seed without your varieties falling apart after a couple generations.   Every gardener that saves seed is breeding their own varieties of vegetables,  Deepe simply shows us how to do it intentionally.   Her passion and conviction has inspired me, and I want to garden intentionally and thoughtfully.  I even have a couple ideas for breeding projects, but they'll have to wait until I can successfully make it past the first generation.

This is a reality TV Series where historians and archaeologist live on a historically accurate victorian age farm.  This is about gardening, but clearly not a book.  It gets a honory spot on my list because while I was reading and pondering food related plans my husband wasn't too certain about some of the weirder aspects.  It was while watching this documentary that he got excited about keeping chicken and bees, and even suggested keeping sheep as well. This series makes me long for the future when I can try some of these things out for myself. It's really well done and extremely interesting. I suggest taking a look.

I often feel like I am not explaining my reasons behind my plans and experiments properly.  I hope to get better at this, but in the meantime take a look at these fantastic sources. They certainly do a better job than I am.

* I will be incredibly sad to leave BYU, but only because of this library.

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