I purchased The Backyard Homestead a couple years ago when I wanted to start a garden and put chickens in our backyard. It has been one of my most referenced books that I have in my collection so I thought I would share it with you. I absolutely love this book and in fact I did so much that I purchased another book along the same lines, The Backyard Homestead: Guide to Raising Farm Animals. If you are starting out a homestead, whether it be a suburban property or 100 acres in the country, I would recommend this book to you. It is fantastic to get more information if you are thinking about adding something to your farm or if you need advice on something you have on your property already. If you decide to purchase either of these books, please purchase them through my blog so that I might get credit for your purchase.
It covers general vegetables as well as a few you might not have heard of that you might put in a garden including ways to make it produce better and in some cases it gives you recipes to use the produce in. There are snippets included here and there with helpful bits of information like how to store your harvest, how to dry vegetables, and how to can.
Fruits and Nuts that you can grow in your backyard are included in the second chapter. I really liked this section because personally I am located in Central California, zone 9, so the temperatures are pretty mild here with only about 10 days of frost through all of the winter. This section was able to tell me what the best strawberries would be for my region and what their flavors were like so when I go to the nursery I can find exactly what I want. Of course there are snippets in this section of how to make pectin and pruning your berry bushes, trees, or grapes. There is a section on how to make cider and vinegar so that if this happens to be something you are interested in you can read a bit into it and understand what is involved before diving into it further, which I really like.
Chapter 3 is devoted solely to herbs. How to grow them, how to use them, and which are best for teas. It includes how to dry the herbs you grow and how to preserve them. I like that it also includes heights of the plants so if you wanted to add them into your landscaping like many people are doing, you know what to expect with for each plant.
The next chapter is all about grains, how to select the best grain for your homestead, how to plant them, how to grow them, anything that is involved with harvesting including ways to harvest and how to mill the grain when you are done. This chapter then includes breadmaking and a few basic recipes (none of which I have yet tried). Something I was surprised to see was a few pages on growing your own beer all the way to recipes on various ales that you can make from home.
Chapter 5 was of most use to me as it includes all things poultry: Chickens, Ducks, Turkeys, and Geese. It includes a few plans for coops, how to butcher your bird, and breed characteristics. I was able to use this section to get more information on ducks most recently to determine what would be involved with adding turkeys to our flock.
Meat and Dairy take up the next chapter. Any remaining animal you might raise for meat or dairy is included in this section including goats and rabbits. This chapter is finished up with how to make jerky, cheeses, yogurt, butter, and ice cream. I am anxious to try the recipe for mozzarella that I forgot was included in this chapter.
The last chapter is all about wild food from foraging or bees. I think this section is interesting and would be nice if you lived in a more rural setting where you might find various plants around your property or maybe while you’re camping.