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Maximizing Your Mini Farm: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre Paperback – May 15, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brett L. Markham is an engineer, third-generation farmer, and polymath. Using the methods explained in his book, he runs a profitable, Certified Naturally Grown mini farm on less than half an acre. Brett works full time as an engineer for a broadband ISP and farms in his spare time. He lives in New Ipswich, New Hampshire.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; 1 edition (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616086106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616086107
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.6 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My main purpose in writing this review is to warn about what I consider to be bad decisions by a publishing company looking to make money off a successful product.

This is an excellent book! I highly recommend it. However, if you're also considering buying The Mini Farming Guide to Vegetable Gardening, don't waste your money. Buy the Maximizing book, not the Vegetable book. The Mini Farming Guide to Vegetable Gardening is the first 18 chapters of the larger Maximizing Your Mini Farm book. It is word for word the same! However there is a chapter 19 (Permaculture with Perennial Vegetables) that is not in this book. Don't buy both books! Just buy this one since it has the same info plus 8 additional chapters not in the smaller book.
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Format: Paperback
I received this book just a few days ago and I have already found lots of useful information. The text has separate chapters for common vegetables and includes many creative methods of pest control. There is a section on fermenting and making your own cheese. The book isn't a copy of Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 acre but is a companion volume with additional material. I have found very useful information in both texts and I would recommend each. Go with the original Mini-Farming book for general information about bed preparation, composting, seed starting, canning, and raising chickens. Go with this one for specific advice about vegetables as well as fermenting (I think he has a book coming out in July that is exclusively about fermenting, too). The author is very fact-oriented but has a simple, approachable writing style. I didn't see any filler material although each veggie chapter has a recipe in it. The use of photographs is varied and better than the original Mini-Farming (there is no repeating image of grass at the start of each chapter, for instance). I would have loved to see something on worm composting and large scale composting (he recommends several cubic feet of compost for some beds) but I guess we can't have everything.
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Unlike most "gardening" books I have read, this book does not teach you a single gardening method as if it is all you need to know. Instead, it integrates several different methods, points out the strengths and weaknesses of going with any particular method, and gets you going. Even better, the author has a reality based "let's grow food" perspective - what things can you grow that will best feed you? Simple, yes, but not something you see often enough - hint, growing your own wheat is probably not a smart move.

The most important thing is that the author gives you pretty much everything you need to know in order to actually win with your garden. I'm biased toward greenhouses, and mine is modeled around his suggestions. My sister thinks greenhouses make no sense for her situation, and her more traditional garden is also modeled around his suggestions. They both work. That's the glory of his approach.

He just published a new book. Don't get it (Maximizing Your Mini Farm: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre) instead - get both. They are definitely companion pieces - you'll be glad you did.

Also, consider getting (Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together) as well. Aquaponics is another way to raise a significant amount of (organic) food easily in a small space. This author takes a similar approach to teaching you what you need to know in order to make informed choices, and the flexibility is something you'll appreciate.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Make sure you read the index before you buy this! From the title, I expected that there would be detailed discussion about how to take a quarter acre of land and make it produce for some level of self-sufficiency. About 140 pages details different vegetables, each in their own category but under the moniker "Part 1 - Getting the Most out of your vegetables. Nine pages in the beginning about soil quality, 19 pages about planting, sixty some pages of things totally unrelated to the title or gardening in general; Like how to make wine, vinegar and cheese!!??! Cheese in a gardening book? Without livestock? On a quarter acre?

The book is well written and illustrated, if a bit too technically detailed. And the publisher used "big" pictures to make the book more weighty. 1.5 page photos at the beginning of each chapter. I was especially confused how a picture of cooked aspergas that took up over 40% of a page with nothing below it improved the learning experience!

I guess I should have purchased the first book first.... or read the index of this one and moved on.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book after a recommendation from a family member who is seeking to live "off the grid", ie as independently as possible in terms of food and energy needs. I'm a long time hobby gardener and landscape artist so I was already familiar with the general ideas. But the author goes into a lot of depth, pointing out helpful details and supporting his statements with just enough statistical information while not allowing the book to feel too scientific in it's content.

This book is easy to read and has a ton of helpful photos and diagrams to illustrate each topc. He covers all the basics and summarizes each chapter, another very helpful aspect. A generous section of note pages is provided in the back as well as lovely color photos throughout, so you don't feel as if you're reading a ponderous how-to book. It's an inspiring, instructive work and I found it very helpful. I think you will too.
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