And yet another thing that I've been meaning to do: review books related to urban homesteading/farming. Over the past couple months, I've received a handful of tantalizing books to review on this blog. Gotta love the swag. Either people actually read this blog or some publishers out there are desperate to get anyone to review their books. I'm going with the former so that I can feel warm and fuzzy rather than sad and pathetic, which would lead me to have to evaluate the meaning and purpose of my life and that's just too much for me on this rainy Monday morning. Instead, I will just promise to review related books on a weekly basis. That will give me purpose, I'm sure.
Today's review is of Your Farm in the City: An Urban Dweller's Guide to Growing Food and Raising Animals by Lisa Taylor and the gardeners of Seattle Tilth. And guess what? They sent me an extra to give away, which means free stuff for you too! (I assure you that gratis goodies will in no way influence my opinions. I'm a lady that says what she thinks.)
I like this book, in all honesty, because of the pictures. I know that sounds totally superficial and kindergartnerish of me, but I can't help it. Fonts and graphics grab my attention and break up what can sometimes be dry, informational reading. To be sure, there are a couple spots in the book where the busyness gets in the way of the content making it difficult to read some of the text. On a page dedicated to what not to put in a compost pile, "pet poop" is almost completely obscured by the giant "O" of "oils". Kind of an important thing not to compost and you wouldn't want to overlook it. But this is minor and a bit nit-picky of me. Overall the layout is gorgeous and engaging. If I had picked this up at the bookstore, you can bet I would have snatched it up right quick.
As for the content, this is a very general book to get you started on all things urban farming. It covers a lot of ground in its not-so-densely-texted 335 pages. Topics covered include planning, building soil, container gardening, working with small spaces, growing from seed, soil fertility, general info on many fruits and veggies, pests, fertilizing, strategies to keep things growing past their typical season, and information on livestock animals that are well suited for an urban setting. The book speaks to the newbie of urban farming. If you've been wanting to grow a few things in the yard and raise a couple chickens but have been hesitant to get your feet wet, Your Farm in the City will set you on the right track and provide a good amount of inspiration and knowledge to get you started. If, however, you've been urban farming for awhile, the book might be a little too basic for your needs. While reading, you get the gist of the subject matter yet nothing is expounded upon in depth. The section spotlighting various fruits and vegetables is incredibly general with not much more information than is found on the back of seed packets. Again, this kind of simpler presentation would be ideal for the fledgling urban farmer, who could easily be overwhelmed by the abundance of information out there on each of the above topics. That being said, I, somewhat experienced urban farmer, did glean a few quality nuggets of info amongst the pretty pages.
Should you buy this book? Well I guess that all depends on your level of urban farming experience. If you can't tell a leek from a potato, a container garden from a raised bed, or a chicken from a duck (ok, that was a bit over the top), this book would be an ideal place to get you started. On the other hand if you've cleaned more chicken crap than you care to recount, successfully grown a few edible crops, and done your time in the compost trenches, this might not be the book you're looking for to take you to the next level. Still, I would have bought it if someone hadn't sent it to me first.
What's your favorite book on farming or homesteading? For your chance to win a free copy of Your Farm in the City, leave a comment before midnight Sunday and I will pick a winner on Monday. I'll announce the giveaway winner with next week's book in the Reviewing the Reads series. Good luck!