The Self-Sufficient Backyard

I purchased this book about a year ago and spent some of last winter perusing it and highlighting sections I wanted to reference for the upcoming spring.  It has been a tremendous help to me for gardening in particular, but it has so much more to it. I have not finished plumbing the depths of the information it provides, but I have already learned so much. 


The Self-Sufficient Backyard, written by Ron and Johanna Melchiore, is a comprehensive guide on how to start your own homestead--from property selection and building, to growing your own food, to harvesting and enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Here is a brief run-down of the pros and cons. 



About the Authors:

Authors Ron and Johanna Melchiore have decades of experience in off-grid homesteading.  This book gives a comprehensive look at what you need to start a homestead from scratch, even with only 1/4 acre. They share what they have done that has worked well as well as mistakes they have made.  They are very practical.  and open about the fact that total self-sufficiency is likely unattainable. Thus, they encourage you to set realistic goals and strive to provide numerous ideas so you can decide for yourself what "makes sense for your own scenario." 

My Thoughts:

Before making the purchase, I was unsure if buying another book was a good idea.  I didn't want to spend money on something that I wouldn't use. I already had a couple of gardening books, a few magazines on homesteading, and had read a lot on the internet, but I didn't have a reliable all-in-one reference. I took a chance and made the purchase.  I am so glad that I did. I have a feeling that I will be referencing this book a lot in the years to come.

This is one of the most comprehensive homesteading books I have seen. The amount of information and detail is impressive. They cover all the basics for starting your homestead and a great deal more.  There are seventeen chapters.  Chapter One tells the story of the authors. From there, they cover homestead planning, site selection, road building, water, house floor planning,  off-grid power, orchards, gardens, easy-on-the back gardens, seed saving , food preservation, chickens, beekeeping,  composting, more tips to accomplish all this, and a final chapter with parting thoughts. They do not just keep to the basics; they include pictures of working arrangements they have used, mistakes they have made, and thoughtful insights a beginner might miss. Whether you are experienced or new, whether you looking to purchase, already have a property, or are living in an apartment, this book has information you can use.

This book has become my new go-to for gardening ideas, even though we have years of previous gardening experience. We have a shorter growing season and we have limited garden space on our property so my main goal was to find ways to maximize our growing space. Ron and Johanna detail numerous ideas for getting more out of your garden space such as intercropping, succession planting, container gardening, and extending your growing season.  Charts outlining which plants to start inside, which to sow outside, and when to plant have been helpful for getting our plants started and ready to move to the outside garden beds. They cover gardens, orchards, and berry patches. They even include pest, disease, and varmint control ideas, which have been invaluable since we live in an area with lots of deer, elk, tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and moles -- all of which seem to love our garden as much as we do!

Overall, there really is so much information that it can seem overwhelming.  Since we already have our house and lot, I focused on reading what is most immediately useful to us first, noted the sections I want to read next to incorporate into our "homestead", and skimmed through the sections that don't currently apply to us.  This has helped to keep me from getting too distracted by ideas we won't be using and has helped me to implement those which we can use now.

I like that the purchase options include a digital only option ($37*) and a digital and physical copy option ($37 + $9.99 shipping and handling*).  I chose to purchase both the digital and physical copy since I enjoy holding a physical book when reading and want to have access to the information even if my computer and phone aren't working.


If you are interested in purchasing a copy for yourself, you can find the link here.

*Amounts reflect the price at the time of purchase and at the time this review was written.

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