- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 2 edition (May 12, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1603580778
- ISBN-13: 978-1603580779
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 52 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Small-Scale Grain Raising: An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers, 2nd Edition Paperback – May 12, 2009
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In Small-Scale Grain Raising, Logsdon lays out clearly just how easy it can be to grow grains for your family and your livestock, from his beloved "pancake patch" up to acre-sized plots. Interspersed with good-humored vintage anecdotes and his usual Contrary Farmer commentary, this primer elevates the status of grain-growing on farms of all sizes (from the backyard on up) to a happy essential. As he states repeatedly, there's nothing so delicious -- or so economical -- as home-baked goods made with fresh grains you grew and milled yourself. And when those same home-grown grains can also feed your animals and build soil fertility… well, what's stopping you?Logsdon's book covers all of the well-known grains and several of the lesser ones: barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, rice, spelt, sorghum, triticale, wheat, and others. He also devotes a chapter to soybeans and dried beans, despite their classification as legumes, because they partner so well with grains both in growing and in eating. For at least the major grains he discusses varieties, yields, nutritional value, and uses (both for human and animal consumption as well as other farm uses). He describes how to prepare the soil, how to plant the grain seeds (including optimal space requirements), what diseases and pests to watch for and how to deal with them, how to harvest and dry the grains, how to store them, and, finally, how to turn those seeds into food for your family.Drawing on his personal experience growing almost all of the major grains, Logsdon describes "how we do it" even when it contrasts with conventional wisdom. He touts the value of open-pollinated seed, despite advances in hybrids, because of their superior taste and the satisfaction of not being beholden to agribusiness. He also demonstrates that old hand tools and techniques can sometimes be the most efficient when growing on a small scale. For example, though corn may be harvested by machine, he outlines how to bundle corn stalks into shocks for easy, inexpensive drying and storage (and aesthetic value). He claims to keep a basket full of old socks to slip over ripening ears of corn to prevent wild animals from dining on his crops. (I'd like to see that!) And for his money, the best weed control -- the one to which pests never develop resistance -- is the hoe.
"Interspersed with good-humored vintage anecdotes and his usual 'Contrary Farmer' commentary, this primer elevates the status of grain-growing on farms of all sizes (from the backyard on up) to a happy essential."--Jennifer McMullen, reviewed in The Ethicurean
"Home bakers rejoice! Gene's book is back just in time to help you grow those flavorful, old, heirloom grain varieties you have always wanted to try. Bon appétit!"--Eliot Coleman, author of The Winter Harvest Handbook and The New Organic Grower
"Small-Scale Grain Raising, 2nd ed., is the definitive book on how to grow, thresh, process, and use grains in the amounts that matter to a family--from enough wheat for a single batch of pancakes up to an acre or two--all the grain needed for a family with a cow, a pig, a few sheep, and a flock of chickens. The first edition has long been a cult classic, decades out of print, decades before its time, eagerly begged, borrowed, and handed around in bootleg copies. The second edition is updated and expanded to include virtually every grain grown in North America. Particularly useful is the state-of-the-art information about threshing and dehulling of various grains for those without access to specialized equipment. Even more useful than the specific information, however, is the portrayal of the overall pattern--the full integration of appropriate grain-growing, appropriate cover-cropping, appropriate livestock keeping, appropriate economics, and appropriate philosophy, all woven together into a powerful model of a coherent framework for gardening, farming, and living. This book is the Small is Beautiful of grain growing, by Gene Logsdon, one of the founding curmudgeons of modern garden farming and sustainable agriculture."--Carol Deppe, author of Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving
"Gene Logsdon could just say, 'I told you so.' Instead, he has revitalized Small-Scale Grain Raising with bushels of new information, thirty additional years of insight, and the welcome leavening of his wonderful and cranky (with a wink and a nod) voice. He makes sowing sexy, and shifts the food revolution from his back 40 to your back yard."--Michael Perry, author of COOP: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting
About the Author
Over the course of his long life and career as a writer, farmer, and journalist, Gene Logsdon published more than two dozen books, both practical and philosophical, on all aspects of rural life and affairs. His nonfiction works include Gene Everlasting, A Sanctuary of Trees, and Living at Nature’s Pace. He wrote a popular blog, The Contrary Farmer, as well as an award-winning column for the Carey, Ohio, Progressor Times. Gene was also a contributor to Farming Magazine and The Draft Horse Journal. He lived and farmed in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where he died in 2016, a few weeks after finishing his final book, Letter to a Young Farmer.
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The text is not well-structured, and is as much memoir as instructive treatise. The quality of the descriptions of the different types of crops and their cultures varies rather widely. Discussions of specific grains frequently veer off into tangential anecdote, and skip over basic, important information. A more methodical approach could have imparted better guidance to a novice.
The book's apparent intended audience oscillates between established farmer and small-scale gardener, but generally places greater emphasis on larger tracts of land with extensive livestock holdings. Esoteric agricultural terms and practices are assumed to be understood on the part of the reader. An illustrated glossary of some phrases is included at the end of the book, but this section should have been expanded and placed at the beginning in order to properly orient those unfamiliar with the material.
The 2008 edition includes multiple references to the author's decision to intentionally excise factual material that had been included in the book's original edition; he chose to do so because he wanted to make the new edition more entertaining, and because he believes that the deleted information is now available on the Internet for whomever wishes to search for it. This reviewer would have personally preferred for Mr. Logsdon to leave in the useful facts, and to instead omit the numerous random and unappealing recipes that conclude each section (and which typically utilize a quantity of wheat flour larger than that of whatever particular grain is supposedly being highlighted).
Despite this book's failings, bits of practical information can be gleaned among the pages of extraneous rambling. If nothing else, it may help an aspiring farmer to broaden his or her notions of the range of possibilities with respect to grain production.
This book introduces grain growing to the gardener or small-acreage homesteader. It offers many options for expediently producing and using grains (for both human and animal consumption) without needing to own the big iron usually associated with grain farming. It brings out the character of each type of grain as well as how to grow, harvest, and use it. And it introduces some grains that many gardeners might not be familiar with. There are great descriptions of hand tools which are no longer in use commercially, but which can still be quite useful to the small-scale grain producer.
On top of that, the book is well written and a pleasure to read. This is one of our most treasured homesteading reference books.