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The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times Paperback – October 5, 2010

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  • The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times
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Editorial Reviews


Library Journal-
"Resilient" gardeners adapt to challenging health, dietary, weather, or financial situations to produce food that can sustain a family through adverse times. In this guide to becoming such a gardener, plant breeder Deppe (Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties) details her methods for safe and reliable food production-and covers more than strictly gardening-no matter your state of health or what climate you are in. She focuses on five crops with calorie, nutrient, and storage values: potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and, yes, duck eggs. In each chapter, Deppe describes her experiences with specific varieties of crops (with particular reference to her own climate in coastal Oregon), specific techniques for success, and unusual recipes suited to the varieties she grows (all are designed for those with gluten intolerance). VERDICT Deppe's idiosyncratic personality shines through her writing-this is as much a series of personal anecdotes by a lifelong expert gardener as a gardening book that will appeal to readers of a similar bent. Ideal for dedicated, independent gardeners who want to focus on food production despite dietary challenges, poor health, or other issues

ForeWord Reviews-
In The Resilient Gardener, scientist and author Carol Deppe offers readers an inspiring approach to gardening. For many, gardening is a hobby-a source of solace and an experiment in self-sufficiency. Gardens are designed to offer up good things during good times-handfuls of bulbous tomatoes after weeks of careful watering, weeding, and monitoring for invading insects, for example. But what happens when gardeners-along with the rest of society-face uncertain times?

Uncertain times, caused by an unstable economy, changing weather patterns, or personal injury, result in an expanse of time when the "garden suffers because people have other priorities." With this premise in mind, Deppe introduces the concept of resilient gardening. In Deppe's world, gardening transcends the world of leisurely pursuit and transforms into an act of empowerment.

In twelve intensely detailed chapters, The Resilient Gardener empowers readers with the knowledge they need to design, build, and maintain gardens that can withstand intense hardship and thrive despite periods of complete neglect. The first half of the book marries the practice of gardening with emerging global issues, such as climate change, increasing attention to weight control, and the rise of food allergies. Readers must first achieve a firm grasp of how these issues intersect with the process of gardening in order to fully benefit from the hands-on guidelines provided later in the book. Deppe's analysis is thorough; her research delves deep. By discussing the interaction between gardening and prevalent world issues, she establishes gardeners as hubs of sustainability and survival, their individual efforts producing movements of resilience that can benefit society as a whole.

One of the major strengths of this book-and what sets it apart from the deluge of gardening books currently on bookstore shelves-is the union of Deppe's scientific knowledge with her personal gardening experience. The second half of the book details the five essential crops of self-reliance-potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs-and how to grow them. Though these sections are largely "dip and skip" depending on the reader's level of knowledge, they are expressed in crisp, detailed, and incredibly fluid prose. Deppe is able to transmit the nitty-gritty of gardening through invaluable parcels of personal anecdotes that make the material relatable and a pleasure to read.

Deppe's unique approach to her topic makes The Resilient Gardener an appealing selection for both experienced and beginner gardeners, as well as readers interested in issues of sustainability and global reform.

Permaculture Activist-

"This book presents an in-depth seed-to-table understanding of five culturally significant and life-sustaining crops: corn, beans, squash, potatoes, and eggs. Its power and promise are rooted in Deppe's lived experience and revealed in the careful detail by which she shares it.  This book is frank, plainspoken, and intimate. The basis for the author's diet is her intolerance for grain. She has celiac disease and cannot digest wheat or any of its near relatives in the grass family: rye, barley, oats, or triticale, and so has learned from much difficult experience to exclude completely from her table the foods most people depend upon for their daily bread. The basis of the book, however, is her determination to provide a reliable supply of staple food for her kitchen and to be responsible for every aspect of that from breeding and selecting the crops she uses to stabilizing and sharing the seed, to understanding the genetics, to exploring, cooking, and relishing the palate of flavors she nurtures and the rich and deeply satisfying foods that in turn nurture her, It is this quality of determination and careful empirical and practical work that recommends The Resilient Gardener to serious gardeners and home economists. Deppe is doing what many of us aspire to do.” 

"The Resilient Gardener is so essential, timely and important, and I will recommend it to everyone I know. It doesn't matter if you garden or if you don't-this is practical wisdom good for humans to know, passed on by a careful student who has deeply studied her life. Carol Deppe's lens is the garden-which is great for gardeners, but really, she speaks clearly to all of us. If you try to think like Deppe, you will find you have a new view of your life no matter who you are. This is a wise and intelligent book. Hats off to Carol Deppe!"--Deborah Madison, Author of Local Flavors and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

"In the years since Carol Deppe wrote the classic Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, she has continued to grow in deep wisdom and experience. The Resilient Gardener is brilliantly timely, and shows us how to create gardens that can survive our increasingly erratic weather, while supplying key nutrition lacking in most vegetable gardens. This book fills a critical niche, and I recommend it unreservedly."--Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture

"The Resilient Gardener is the most comprehensive and detailed book about gardening that I have read to date, and I could not find one sentence that I would quibble with. Not only does Deppe discuss all the immediate, nose- to- the- grindstone kind of information about producing and using homegrown food, but also all the surrounding environmental and cultural aspects of gardening that are so vital to success. A must read for beginning gardeners, and full of details even the most experienced will find invaluable."--Gene Logsdon, author of Small-Scale Grain Raising and Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind

"The Resilient Gardener gives concrete examples of how to deal with diet, climate, and economic changes before the need arises. Deppe challenges us to experiment with and practice all aspects of gardening, seed saving and food storage, and advises on the growing need to meet special food and climate requirements in the face of our food system's fragility. This book is an invaluable tool for gardeners and farmers as we experience more and more volatility in our food systems."--Suzanne Ashworth, author of Seed to Seed

"Carol Deppe is informative, funny, and intriguing as she guides us through every phase of gardening--dispelling myths while also orienting us to the technical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of growing food. The Resilient Gardener is the quintessential guide to gardening from an authority who also knows how to enjoy herself."--Didi Emmons, author of Vegetarian Planet

"Carol Deppe's celiac-friendly approach to gardening and nutrition provides a wealth of information on how to overcome food intolerances many are confronted with each day. If you struggle with food allergies or sensitivities--or want to use natural resources to create a healthy world for you and your family--this book is for you."--Peter H.R. Green, MD, Director, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University

"Growing food is among the most positive changes anyone can make in the face of uncertainty about the future. The Resilient Gardener is an information-packed resource for people starting or expanding a garden practice. This book empowers readers with skills and understanding, as did Deppe's previous book, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties."--Sandor Ellix Katz, author, Wild Fermentation and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved

About the Author

Oregon plant breeder Carol Deppe, author of The Tao of Vegetable Gardening, holds a PhD in biology from Harvard University and specializes in developing public-domain crops for organic growing conditions, sustainable agriculture, and human survival for the next thousand years. Carol is author of The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times (Chelsea Green, 2010), Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, 2nd ed. (Chelsea Green, 2000), Tao Te Ching: A Window to the Tao through the Words of Lao Tzu (Fertile Valley Publishing, 2010), and Taoist Stories (Fertile Valley Publishing, 2014). Visit for articles and further adventures.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 1 edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160358031X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603580311
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Oregon plant breeder Carol Deppe holds a PhD in biology from Harvard University and specializes in developing public-domain crops for organic growing conditions, sustainable agriculture, and human survival for the next thousand years. Carol is founder and owner of Fertile Valley Seeds. For seeds, articles, and further adventures, visit her website

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

142 of 144 people found the following review helpful By Amy Crawford on October 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Incredibly this book does it! It goes into understanding what is going on and why you are doing things...

it's NOT a cookbook recipe but instead covers what it's all about and what makes it work (or not). Most garden books tell you to plant so deep, so far apart, and when. Deppe explores the "why" you plant at a particular depth (how you could alter it depending on your particular set of environmental constraints). Here you learn the intelligent approach to working within your food growing set-up.

Deppe expands the "how and why" depending on the particular planting style you utilized. Do you use a rototiller, a sm tractor, or hand tools?

The creme-de-la creme, is that she discusses growing methods, using the products, and appropriate storage techniques without it being boring and dry.

I'm so tired of the usual: take potatoes and store them. Hmm, how, and what makes a difference on getting a potato to store one month vrs 6 months.

How do I get them out of the ground without damaging them, what does light actually do to them, what can I do with potatoes that start to sprout, etc. are all questions that are covered in her topic discussion. What are the nutrient values, why would I grow this vrs another crop in terms of protein and calorie count. What about water needs: when, why, and how, instead of " water as needed".

Deppe, in essence (AND in a very readable format), brings her depth of knowledge and experience to the table, sharing it so that I have the informational tools to make intelligent decisions. I am able to fine-tune my food production, as needed, to my particular setting. That builds in the resilience that makes my process adaptable to changing conditions... some people would label it as "increased food security"!

This is one book that will fill a huge hole in my gardening library, productively speaking (pun intended)!
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87 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on November 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have been looking for a book like this one for several years, so the publication of The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times gives me cause for rejoicing. Carol Deppe (whose earlier book, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, should be on every gardener's must-read list) brings us practical, common-sense garden wisdom and comprehensive, detailed advice for producing our own food staples. She's funny, too, and her wry humor goes a long way toward lightening her serious subject.

Carol Deppe is a long-time gardener and plant breeder (in Corvallis, Oregon) who specializes in developing open-pollinated, public-domain food plants for organic gardens. The Resilient Gardener encourages us to redesign our gardens for hard times. Its first focus, Deppe says, is on achieving greater control over our food supply, rather than relying on fossil-fueled industrial agriculture to supply our staple foods. Its second focus: on surviving the natural and personal disasters (droughts, family emergencies) that can wreak havoc in the garden. Its third: on gardening not just in the good times, or even in the hard times, but "gardening in mega-hard times." And not just gardening for ourselves, either, but for others: "A gardener who knows how to garden in both good times and bad can be a reservoir of knowledge and a source of resilience for the entire community." The bottom line, for Deppe, is the awareness that a time may come when our gardening pastime turns into a basic survival skill. Natural disasters, widespread resource depletions (fossil fuel, water, soil), or a catastrophic economic downturn may require us to grow our food, she says, so it's a very good idea to learn how to do this before we have no other alternative. To which I say "amen.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bar None, the best gardening book I've ever read. And I've been into this for 30+ years.

The information is readable, oft times humorous, exacting and easy to remember.

I pre-ordered it. I waited impatiently for it to arrive. Then I had a "Lost Weekend" reading it straight through. I'm on my 3rd re-read. And (I'm not sure why my first post of this incredible readable didn't show up?)

I was wowed by Chapter 4, "Diet and Food Resilience". Especially what she says about wheat sensitivities. Definitely worth paying attention to. The specific chapters on which types of corn, beans, squash and potatoes are worth seeking out.

The only snag, so far, is her website is not up and running. Or I'm not able to access it from here.

I strongly recommend you get this book. You will not be disappointed.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By George E. McLaughlin on January 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wish I could eloquently sum up this book. Actually, the title does that about as well as anyone could. But I'll give you a couple reasons why I'm so excited about it. There are more good points to make. But I can't take the time to get them all into this review.

1) This book pretty well nails what has been my wife's and my passion in almost everything we do related to self-sufficiency. That is, it addresses something larger and broader than just growing things. It addresses *production for consumption, survival and happiness.*
2) Carol writes uniquely. One does not learn what she has to teach without learning about her own journey. I find this very helpful, as the context helps explain the content. I also find Carol, in her books, to be a delightful person.
3) This book addresses other areas of production, which, in my mind are closely related to gardening, though often not considered so. For example she writes on poultry and other forms of meat production. To me, this is just a logical step from gardening and very important.
4) Carol is a "duck-aholic" and so am I. Okay, so she isn't into Muscovies, like I am. But her Anconas sound like excellent birds. I cannot understand why so few Americans like duck and even fewer like their eggs. Yet, ducks are probably the most practical of all poultry, with the potential of being raised where chickens can not.
5) Carol writes about growing and raising things because they make one feel good. I grow certain crops which I call "feel good crops." That's because, they are dependable and productive and, for one reason or another, when I grow them and am around them, I am happy. Carol expresses this very well.
6) Carol has celiac disease.
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