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495 of 507 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best on gardening, mini-farming, food self-sufficiency
I just read this book and I am very impressed. It compares favorably both to classics of intensive gardening and to classics on self sufficiency. Less complicated than How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits: (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) (How to Grow More Vegetables: (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains,), less expensive and resource-hogging (in terms...
Published on April 4, 2008 by MYOB

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415 of 461 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Coffee Table Book
I felt like this book was more of a coffee table picture book than a helpful guide to getting started on self sufficiency. There is plenty of information in the pages, but it's all in block paragraphs that run together. I'd have to go through with highlighter and sticky notes to mark it if I wanted to find anything again.

I much preferred The Backyard...
Published on August 14, 2010 by Burgundy Damsel


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495 of 507 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best on gardening, mini-farming, food self-sufficiency, April 4, 2008
By 
MYOB (Radford, VA United States) - See all my reviews
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I just read this book and I am very impressed. It compares favorably both to classics of intensive gardening and to classics on self sufficiency. Less complicated than How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits: (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) (How to Grow More Vegetables: (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains,), less expensive and resource-hogging (in terms of peat moss, vermiculite, and grids) than All New Square Foot Gardening (which is still well worth buying for the beginning gardener; the charts on planting for a continuous three-season harvest alone are probably worth the price of the book). More focused and with more current (though perhaps still debatable) numbers than One Acre and Security: How to Live Off the Earth Without Ruining It, and written for an even smaller (and tractor-free) scale than Successful Small-Scale Farming: An Organic Approach (Down-To-Earth Book).

This book contains the simplest and most understandble description of double-digging that I have ever read, and the simplest way of placing seeds at the correct spacing in intensive gardening. It has good discussions of thermophilic composting and of the importance of aging compost; various types of irrigation systems; food requirements per person and practical ways of meeting them (including the economic infeasibility of growing wheat in the home garden); making aerated compost tea with a simple and inexpensive homemade system; the best media for seed starting; an introduction to saving and storing seeds, and references to excellent books that provide more information (such as Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners and Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's & Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding & Seed Saving); inexpensive ways to extend the growing season; fruit trees, bushes, and vines; raising poultry for eggs and/or meat; organic and certified naturally grown; and maximizing the money you make selling produce. The chapter on preserving the harvest by canning, freezing, and dehydrating (no mention of Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables) is not in-depth and will not take the place of other books on the subject, but serves as a good introduction. The only disappointment to me was that there was no mention of sheet composting (see Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling,No Weeding, No Kidding!); I might suggest building your raised beds in that way rather than by double digging.

If you are trying to move off the grid, grow 100% of your own food, and make your own clothes, this may not be the book for you. If you'd like to raise a lot of your own food in a garden that will fit in the typical suburban yard (the actual number of square feet he suggests cultivating for a family of three is just under 1/20th of an acre), this book is a great place to start.
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461 of 478 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre, September 29, 2010
By 
John McNamara (Etna, NH United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre (Paperback)
I have been gardening for 40 years and have read hundreds of articles and books on gardening. This one is "hands down" the
best one I have read. Markham takes complex topics and explains them in plain english. For example, I now know exactly how to modify soil Ph with specific products in specific measure. I understand how each element influences the equation and why using a variety of soil amendments is advisable. I finally understand the value of Boron in plant physiology with smart ways to apply it. I now "get it" about what bio-char is, how to make it, and why it is important to my soil. I finally understand exactly why deep roto-tilling actually hurts the soil even though it "looks good" in the garden. Thank you Brett!
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90 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a GREAT book!, October 18, 2010
By 
A. Gift For You (Redlands, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre (Paperback)
This was just a really well done book. I liked they way Markham wrote and he explained things well. I had started a few years ago with the Square Foot Gardening and we had good success with it. But I wanted to expand it and in reality couldn't POSSIBLE afford the expense of the planting mixture Bartholomew suggest so came up with my own. So I also started to consider expanding the 4x4 squares to a wide 32" row and the length of the garden area, but still keep the intense planting for the benefits. And low and behold here's Markham writing about it and giving tips on accomplishing it. He doesn't hide behind the fact hat it's work to get those rows started. Double digging rows SUCKS! And he expresses that as well. It makes me feel better doing it when I read others agree it's hard work but needs to be done.

Having the background he does Markham is VERY anal and exact on his numbers for what's needed and the amounts. He has done FANTASTIC job of researching articles and books and brings them together. So this book is actually a wealth of knowledge from other sources. The Bibliography in the back is a GREAT resource as well.

I had considered the soil blocks from my seedlings in the past but never thought the expense was worth it. But he brings to light the whole world of it and also a link to an article on the Internet that will then lead you to other areas on the Internet for research of this subject. My point being: You learning doesn't have to stop with JUST reading this book. He shows you a path to follow that will lead you on your own research.

Markham incorporates a lot of other known farmer/writers works into his daily workings. It's something (with all the reading I've done of those others) being work towards. But he's actually DONE it and IS doing it. These are two VERY important factors for someone wondering if they can all put it together. If all these different ideas CAN be incorporated into a bigger whole.

I would recommend this book as wonderful addition to the homesteader/self-sufficient home library!
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415 of 461 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Coffee Table Book, August 14, 2010
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This review is from: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre (Paperback)
I felt like this book was more of a coffee table picture book than a helpful guide to getting started on self sufficiency. There is plenty of information in the pages, but it's all in block paragraphs that run together. I'd have to go through with highlighter and sticky notes to mark it if I wanted to find anything again.

I much preferred The Backyard Homestead. It had much more easily referenced information and more user-friendly instructions, both written and illustrated. Definitely check Mini Farming out of your library to make sure its the choice for you before you invest in it.
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107 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book EVER!, August 21, 2010
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This review is from: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre (Paperback)
I saw this book and knew I had to have it. Not only does this book contain in depth details about gardening, food preservation, raising chickens, and a plethora of recipes and other topics, it also contains oodles of full color beautiful pictures that show step by step instructions for some things, as well as pictures to admire. A very gorgeous and well put together book that I will use as a reference for years and years to come. A must have!
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive overview of rational hybrid of techniques, January 11, 2011
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This review is from: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre (Paperback)
An indispensible book.

Mr. Markham has tried the methods out there today -- French Intensive, Biodynamic, Square Foot, etc -- and puts together the most productive hybrid of them while interjecting some rather excellent observations on efficacy, variances due to climate, etc. For instance, the cost of raising one person's yearly ration of wheat would eat up thousands of dollars of possible revenue, cultivated land, and work hours. Instead, spend $50 or so dollars for preground organic wheat and buy a breadmaker... and you'll still come out ahead.

The different approach to the standard how-to technique book is marvelous for all levels of experience. Comprehensive explanations of subjects such as how to journal are excellent for everyone. More research is suggested through extensive footnotes to books, studies, and resources. Excellent comparisons of techniques and careful record keeping are summarized, supporting every point and conclusion.
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73 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Edible is Political, March 3, 2007
If you are new to mini-farming, this is the book to get. Markham grows a tremendous amount of food in a postage stamp piece of land, and he tells how to do it in this book. From planting the seeds to processing the harvest to a lesson on soil chemistry in between, this book covers it all in a folksy, easy to read style.

It is a very practical book, for people who need to grow gardens to save money and to provide their children with better diets. America is dividing along class lines, and one of the major class differences is food. The poor eat junk food and suffer obesity, diabetes, arteriosclerosis and heart disease; while the wealthier class eats real food -- that stuff that EVERYONE ate back in the old days.

The fact that junk food exists at all is a great injustice; junk food is "feed" for us "human cattle," if only it were as nutritious as what we give livestock! The fact is, you'd be better off eating alfalfa pellets and cracked corn with a bowl of water, than Doritos and Pepsi. That's right -- livestock feed has more nutritional value than so-called "fun foods," which are becoming more and more a staple of the American diet.

How many square feet of cropland is necessary to feed one person? John Jeavons put the number at 1250 square feet. Brett Markham puts the number at 700 square feet, based on his experience. If Markham is right, that means the average suburbanite can supply most of the food for their family. I think it's worth getting this book and giving it a try. I got the book, and I'm going to try it this year.

And if you have children, for heaven's sake, feed them right! I work in a health care related field, and I can tell you that we are seeing an American pandemic of diet-related diseases, all because we gave up our gardens and turned out food supply over to ConAgra and Archer Daniels Midland. Most of our food is basically the corn surplus in fancy packages. Partially hydrogenated corn syrup will KILL YOU! The next time you go shopping, read the labels of all packaged foods, and think twice!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book!, June 20, 2012
This review is from: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre (Paperback)
Truthfully, though I thought about it, I didn't buy this book. Why? Because of the negative reviews on Amazon. Luckily for me, I happened to see it on a shelf at my local library and decided to give it a try anyway. I say luckily, because I feel like I would have gone into my mini farming operation halfway blind if it hadn't been for this book. (In fact, now that I've finished reading the book, I'm fairly convinced that the negative reviews were written by competitors in the field or just generally grouchy people!)

The book itself is nicely put together. It has a glossy cover, thick pages, and helpful photography (which is plentiful, but not abundant enough to become a nuisance). The print is large enough to see easily, and the chapters are well-organized with an abundance of information in each one. The gardening portions of the book were the most helpful to me.

Granted, the book doesn't cover certain areas of self-sufficiency (other types of poultry besides chickens and ducks, rabbits, goats, soap and candle making, aquaculture, etc.) but I have read an abundance of books on self-sufficiency which claim to be all-encompassing and DO cover those areas, and I have walked away without knowing the basics of gardening. That was not the case with Markham's book. I now finally know what the NPK stands for on fertilizer bags, the basics of pruning fruit and nut trees, how to make my own compost and pesticide, and how to overwinter crops.

In short, this book is NOT for master gardeners (though they might be able to pick up a few tips!) or people who have been living on a homestead for any length of time. It's also not for people who are generally grouchy...but I would recommend it to anyone who has an open mind and who wants to learn the basics of running a functional mini farm. When my budget allows, I will gladly add Brett Markham's book to my collection...and I have high hopes for his new book as well!
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74 of 86 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Glad I did not pay more, January 3, 2011
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This review is from: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre (Paperback)
I have been an organic gardener for over twenty years. This is a coffee table book. The information is solid enough there just isn't that much of it. If you live in the Northeast, as I do, the seed starting table and plant-out dates are useful if you don't already know the procedure. The book covers the high points of back yard sufficiency gardening but there is little detail and a lot of space devoted to calculations that could be done on the back of an envelope. The font size is big and the pages are thick. This book might be okay for those who are not sure if they want to start back-yard gardening but it is not for those who already know what they are doing.
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106 of 126 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A good overview, falls short, March 6, 2012
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This review is from: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre (Paperback)
This book reads like an extended eHow or About.com article. The basics of farming and raising poultry are presented, but the author rarely goes into detail about any given topic. Those topics that are dealt with at length are often tangential at best. (Cinder blocks are good garden liners, yes. I don't need a paragraph explaining that they are heavy and just how many linear feet can be fit into a pickup truck bed. And there is an ENTIRE CHAPTER devoted to the design of a chicken plucker.)

More alarmingly is the author's tendency to revert into a late-night infomercial tone, throwing out facts and figures while relying on questionable leaps of logic to justify his economic arguments. He extrapolates figures, such as a garden bed growing $5 per square foot of produce, to demonstrate that, gosh darn it, your backyard is worth over $10,000 a year and you might as well quit your day job. How these figures translate into actually selling the produce is left to the reader's imagination; there is vague talk of selling to restaurants, and "value-added products like pickles and salsas." I would appreciate a book detailing the economic realities of raising and selling produce. This isn't it.

Finally, the overall quality of the layout is cheap and bloated. Large text, large margins, small amateurish pictures, and the same full-page photo of seeds facing every chapter. All in all, a disappointment. Returned to Amazon.
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Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre
Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham (Paperback - April 1, 2010)
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