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Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series)
Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series)
by Steve Solomon
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.06
88 used & new from $4.40

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Negative - Not Helpful and definitely NOT for "Survival Gardening" In Hard Times, March 30, 2014
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I wanted to like this book. I really did. I am a hobby gardener who has been [successfully] gardening for decades. I want to move from hobby gardening towards growing as much of our food as possible. I also don't have much money to do this with, so a book that was subtitled "Growing Food in Hard Times" seemed like the perfect fit for me.

First, I agree with some other reviewers about the negative tone of the book. The author seemed very self satisfied with his methods and felt that he was FAR more intelligent than anyone else out there gardening. He spends an inordinate amount of time in the book bashing everyone who holds an opinion different from his. Ironically, I agreed with a lot of what he said, but I didn't like all the negativity.

Second, this book makes gardening sound *impossible* to do:

- He recommends very specific kinds of fertilizers, made to his exacting specifications, full of stuff I'd never heard of [ie: "4 1/2 parts less-potent coprameal, supplemented with 1 1/2 parts tankage"] [p. 21] He goes on to explain a bit what this is - tankage is apparently ground up scraps of animals left over from slaughterhouses. OK. I have NO idea where the heck I'd find such a thing [or that I'd be willing to use it on my organic garden]. Or coprameal [I'm still not sure what this is, exactly].
- He makes it sound so incredibly hard to amend your soil in order to grow anything - in fact, after going on page after page with very specific and complicated instructions, making it sound impossible, he says that he just personally bought a truck load of top soil and had it delivered to his farm and dumped on his garden - at a cost of $1,200 for one load. I don't know about you, but "hard times" for me would mean not having $1,200 laying around to drop on top soil for my garden... [heck, I don't have $1,200 laying around during "good times". LOL!]

Third, he goes on and on about balancing soil nutrients - if you don't do exactly what he says and use exactly the ratios of the products he recommends, your soil is going to produce nutrient deficient plants and you are going to end up with all kinds of health problems. He includes a nasty anecdote about his friend "Ken", an avid gardener whom he feels has unbalanced soil nutrients. As a result, in the author's opinion, Ken's children have messed up teeth and jaw development. [Which was just a discourteous and mean spirited story to share, in my opinion]. Personally, I just don't think Mother Nature is this stupid that she needs us to "fix" her with some very specific equation of additives - I'm sure soil deficiencies CAN develop, but people have been gardening and surviving just fine for millennia without his special mix of soil amendments.... my grandparents did.

Fourth, his chapter on plowing up the garden bed made me bonkers. The only method he recommends is hand digging the whole garden to a depth of 12 inches [I'm planning a really big garden where there is existing sod - this would take me forever the first time around]. If you do anything else, he feels that you are doomed to failure. If you use a tiller or a plow, he says you are going to create a "plow pan" 5 or 7 inches under the soil that is going to form a rock hard surface that will keep your plant roots from growing deep enough. So tillers and plows are BAD. Ironically, 4 pages later, he ridicules the raised bed method, which requires 2 feet of digging down, according to him. He feels that digging that deep is a waste of effort, and says "Over time the second foot will become looser without any extra effort on your part as worms transport the organic matter you put into the surface, and as plant nutrients leach into the subsoil [which chemically loosens clay...]. [p. 57] So, worms and leaching work in a raised bed but somehow won't work with a bed you've tilled mechanically? Maybe I'm missing something here, but that seemed contradictory to me.

Fifth, to do everything he says you have to do, you are going to need to spend a *fortune* on soil amendments, special things to balance your soil nutrients, and maybe bringing in several loads of top soil [at $1200 a load]. And then, according to him, the seeds or seedlings you are trying to use are probably from an "unethical" seed seller and won't work anyway.

Sixth, just about everything in the book is negative. If you buy seedlings, you are an idiot. If you buy seeds, you are an idiot. [He gives a very short list of seed companies that he considers "OK" to buy from, but this is based on research he did in *1989* - two of my favorite seed companies - Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co and Select Seeds - weren't even founded back then. Companies that did exist back then have probably significantly changed in the last 25 years. I did not think this list was useful.] If you start your own seedlings, you are probably going to do it wrong [because you are an idiot?]. Only buy the expensive tools because quality is better than low price, and he knows you are going to want to buy the cheap tools [because you are an idiot?]. [I agree about buying quality, but the condescension was obnoxious.] The book just goes on and on with negative things that can and will go wrong with this garden venture.

Seventh, I just didn't think the book was written well. In some places it is incredibly dry. In other places, the author just goes off on long rants about how he disagrees with this or that. I found this book difficult to read on many levels.

There IS some good information here. It was good advice to be cautious about where we buy seeds from, for example. Some of the information on growing individual vegetables was helpful. If the book could have been cleaned of the negativity and rants, I think it would have been worth my time [though still demoralizing and discouraging]. The author is unquestionably knowledgeable, but his delivery was very much lacking, in my opinion.

I am completely mystified as to how this book got so many glowing reviews...

At the end of this book, I basically have the feeling that I can't possibly grow anything, it will be completely impossible to have a successful garden, and I should not even bother. That was not exactly the "inspiration" that I was looking for when I bought this book.

Build Your Own underground Root Cellar
Build Your Own underground Root Cellar
by Phyllis Hobson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $3.56
64 used & new from $0.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This Is Really Just A Little Pamphlet, March 26, 2014
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This "book" is really just a cheaply produced little pamphlet. It looks like something you would get for free through the county extension office.

While it does cover the basics of how to build a root cellar, I just felt a little cheated once I saw it. If I had paid .99 for this, I would feel OK about that, but unfortunately it cost quite a bit more. I did not feel that the brief information it contains was worth the money they charged for it. I could have easily found this basic information online for free - I expect a bit more from a book I'm paying for.

Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (Living Free Guides)
Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (Living Free Guides)
by Angela England
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.09
109 used & new from $7.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, Readable - Best Book Available on This Topic, March 26, 2014
I own a shelf full of books on backyard farming and suburban/urban self sufficiency at this point. I think this book is the best of the bunch.

This book covers a wide array of topics and covers them each in more depth than other books on this subject do. I felt like each chapter of this book was very "meaty", with tons of useful information. After years of doing this, I still go back and consult this book [I've had it for two years and have also reread it a couple of times, which I have not done with any of the other books I have on this topic]. Last night I just re-read the chapter on fruit trees and berries, for example.

This book is, by its very nature, an introduction to this lifestyle. It isn't fair to criticize it for being what it is. That said, there is far more comprehensive information in this book than in any other book I've found on this subject.

The writing style of this book is very conversational and easy to read. She explains the concepts well and the book holds your attention.

This book is a great starting place for beginners, but is comprehensive enough to be very useful to seasoned veterans, too.

I think this book is an all around winner.

Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power and More Life-Saving Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living
Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power and More Life-Saving Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living
by Jim Cobb
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.99
43 used & new from $8.89

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Basic Introduction to Long Term Survival, March 23, 2014
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I liked this book. It is really well written and easy to read. I liked the author's style and it was a fun book to read.

The book covers all the major considerations for long term survival. He lays out all of the concerns in an easy to understand format and gives a rational explanation of what the needs in each area will probably be. He gives concrete, very helpful advice on what to do to prepare for each area of need [water, food, protection, etc]. He's got a lot of ideas that he shares on how to accomplish long term survival. He also gives other resources that would be helpful for further study.

The only somewhat negative thing I can say about this book is that I just sort of expected a little *more* from it. It is a pretty slim volume [170 pages plus some checklists and a resource list]. I was honestly expecting it to be a bit meatier when I ordered it from amazon. I can't say that I am disappointed, because I truly did enjoy the book and finished it in 2 days despite being crazy busy with other things. But I definitely wanted more - more depth and detail.

I did love the author's attitude throughout the book. He was very positive. His information was realistic and practical, but his outlook was a lot more hopeful than many survivalist books are. I enjoyed that. What's the point of surviving if you are going to hate life? This author enjoys life and I enjoyed his book.

Little House in the Suburbs: Backyard farming and home skills for self-sufficient living
Little House in the Suburbs: Backyard farming and home skills for self-sufficient living
by Deanna Caswell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.41
92 used & new from $9.05

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Introduction, March 23, 2014
This book is a introduction to self sufficiency in a suburban area for those who are new to the concept. The topics are all treated superficially, so I don't think this book would be tremendously helpful to someone who was already familiar with the basic idea of self sufficiency.

Pros to this book:

1. Beautiful pictures. The photos in the book are extremely well done.

2. Readable writing style, not dry. Easy read.

3. Good basic info on a broad range of topics.

4. I thought the chapter on goats was especially great.

Cons to this book:

1. It had two authors and they switched back and forth at random times in an awkward and unpredictable manner. Often I wasn't sure which author was writing [they both write using "I"]. It was very disorienting and drove me a little nuts.

2. The book will be too superficial for anyone with any existing knowledge about this concept.

3. There wasn't a chapter on Rabbits, which seemed like an odd exclusion to me since they are quiet and particularly well suited to an urban/suburban set up.

If you are looking for a basic introduction to self sufficiency, this would be a good book for you. If you already know you want to do it and want more in depth information, check into another book. [Such as "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", "Backyard Farming on an Acre [more or less]", or "The Urban Homestead".]

UniKoala Women's Classic Sheepskin Bunny Chestnut (US Size 7)
UniKoala Women's Classic Sheepskin Bunny Chestnut (US Size 7)

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Boots Ever!, March 15, 2014
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These boots are so cute and so comfortable! I wasn't sure if I should buy these or go for the more expensive Uggs, but I am SO pleased with these boots and I'm glad I chose them. They fit perfectly and are really comfy. They are warm and snug and also waterproof - they were awesome for walking in the snow and freezing rain when I had to be out in it. My feet stayed completely warm and dry, and the boots still look good as new [no discoloration from getting soggy in the snow].

These boots are definitely worth the money! I couldn't love them more!

Suave Professionals Natural Infusion Awapuhi Ginger and Honeysuckle Light Leave-in Cream, 6 Ounce
Suave Professionals Natural Infusion Awapuhi Ginger and Honeysuckle Light Leave-in Cream, 6 Ounce
Price: $4.63
4 used & new from $4.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Works Well But Has Very Strong Scent, February 27, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This product works really well. It makes hair soft and tames flyaways and frizz. But it does have a very strong scent. It isn't a bad scent really, just very over powering. Once I got used to it, it did not bother me as much [and it does tone down after a few minutes of air drying], but it was a little off putting at first.

Omega-3 + CoQ10 + Vitamin D3 GOLD - 700 mg of Omega-3 Fish Oil with 2500 IU Vitamin D3 and 50 mg Kaneka Q10 (60 Softgels)
Omega-3 + CoQ10 + Vitamin D3 GOLD - 700 mg of Omega-3 Fish Oil with 2500 IU Vitamin D3 and 50 mg Kaneka Q10 (60 Softgels)
Offered by BuyHerbs
Price: $19.95
2 used & new from $19.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Way To Get Several Important Nutrients All In One Capsule!, February 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really liked these! They did not leave any nasty fish aftertaste, and I love the convenience of getting all of these supplements in one easy dose. I have nothing bad to say about this product at all.

These were a winner, in my opinion.

The Iron Queen (Iron Fey)
The Iron Queen (Iron Fey)
by Julie Kagawa
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.99
121 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY Meghan Becomes a Worthy Heroine!, January 26, 2014
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I did not like book 1 of this series, and I hated book 2 - because the main character, Meghan, was such a pathetic, whiny, weak female lead.

Well, Book 3 fixed everything for me. Finally in this book, Meghan comes into her own. She stops whining and moaning and looking to everyone else to save her. She steps up, and does it brilliantly! She becomes a woman worthy of her own series of books.

I do wish the author hadn't felt the need to include the sex scene. [Too many pregnant teens as it is, without promoting it in young adult fiction. Forgive me - I work in the maternity ward of a hospital and deal with too many pregnant 12-17 year olds to think that this is a good idea.]

As with all of the other books in "The Iron Fey" series, this one is brilliantly written. Julie Kagawa has created a world that is fascinating and full of wonder. She is a brilliant story teller who creates incredible characters. It is a testament to her writing ability that she was able to create the kind of "character growth" that transformed Meghan from a stupid girl who I kind of hoped would die in the first book into a strong female that I truly admired by the 3rd book. The over all plot was enthralling and I really, truly loved this book from start to finish.

I'm glad I read this series, despite my misgivings about the first two books!

The Iron Daughter
The Iron Daughter
by Julie Kagawa
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.99
133 used & new from $0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars I Absolutely Hated the Heroine In This Book, January 26, 2014
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This review is from: The Iron Daughter (Paperback)
I did not love "The Iron King", book 1 in this series, but I kept reading the series, anyway, hoping it got better.

Book 2 was a huge disappointment for me. I liked it less than book 1.

This second book in the series drove me absolutely mad because of the main character. Meghan spent the whole book whining and moaning and mooning after the "inaccessible" guy that had wanted to kill her in the first book. It really seemed to be the same tired plot from Twilight - on the one hand, she had her best friend, who loves her and would die for her, who is cute, funny, charming, and would do anything for her. On the other hand, the cold, emotionally vacant, angry guy who kind of hates her and who wanted to kill her in the last book. She, of course, chooses the angry guy who wanted to kill her.

Aside from the "love triangle" angle that I really despised, Meghan was so weak and annoying and pathetic in this book that I almost put it down and didn't finish it. And the fact that she kept getting angry at Ash for doing *exactly* what he told her he would have to do *to protect her* in the winter court, made me want to strangle her myself.

I agree with other reviewers who mentioned the heart beat thing - it seemed like in every scene Meghan was listening to someone's heartbeat, feeling someone's heartbeat, or even noticing her own heartbeat. What's up with that?

But, again, I couldn't quite put this book down and walk away, in spite of my strong negative feelings. That is because Julie Kagawa is an amazing writer. The world she has created here is extremely real and completely fascinating. The secondary characters are interesting and unique. The over all plot [minus the large romance segment] is really very enthralling.

It was a measure of her writing ability that I kept going with the series, considering how much I disliked the main character.

In the end - it was worth it. In book 3, Meghan comes into her own and finally steps up and stops being a whiny little brat. I was very happy about that. It made the whole series worth reading.

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