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Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre Paperback – April 1, 2010
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“A concept destined to appeal to that intrepid individual whose independent nature finds the idea of abandoning the grocery store alluring.” (Carol Haggas - Booklist)
“A helpful addition, alongside Bartholomew and Jeavons, for the serious DIY gardener.” (Margaret Heller - Library Journal)
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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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.
The pictures and step-by-step instructions on many of the basic construction projects are amazingly useful. I also feel like, despite reading a million articles on composting, I never really "got" it until reading this book. The fact that Markham has laid it out so clearly in charts, so it becomes a matter of math and time, is so reassuring for the novice composter.
For people looking for help running a garden, this book isn't for you. The author makes it very clear that high-intensity farming is complicated, finicky, frustrating, and sometimes backbreaking work. But if you want to engage in real high-intensity farming, this book is an invaluable resource and I highly recommend it.