In this ongoing homesteading journey, we read a great deal. We have amassed a fairly substantial library of books on everything you can think of, and we refer to them constantly to answer everything from “How do I…?” to “Do I need to…” or even “Oh my goodness, what IS that thing!?”
Over time, certain books start to rise to the top; they are always at hand, getting well-worn and well-used. One such book is The Mini-Farming Bible, by Brett Markham. If you don’t know about this book, you are missing out. For food gardening, there really isn’t a match that I’ve seen.
The Mini-Farming Bible is actually two books in one; the first half is his original mini-farming book and the second half includes his follow-up book, Maximizing Your Mini-Farm. Both books are excellent, and the Mini-Farming Bible has both of them under one roof, so to speak.
The book takes you on a journey, from planning out your mini-farm to choosing the right vegetables, how to prepare soil, how to start seedlings indoors and transplant them later, preventing disease, and a hundred other things. Literally the entire process between “Hey, I want to grow my own food” and “Hey, I’m at the farmer’s market selling my extra produce” is in this book.
There’s even a section in the back for those who want to take it a step further and make their own wines, cheeses, and more. We’ve dabbled in the cheesemaking world a bit but let’s just say that I’ll keep buying cheese at the farmer’s market a little while longer, at least until I get a lot better at it. (When you start making mozzarella and somehow end up with a strange looking yogurty-thing, you might be doing it wrong.)
At any rate, we know that the Grow Intensive method that Markham talks about in here works like a charm, because we were doing things the ‘traditional’ way first (rows in a garden, planting from seed outside, watering every day, etc.), and we got the most miserable-looking garden you ever saw. This year, however, using his methods, I’m seeing a lot better results — and saving a lot of water to boot, which combined with my graywater collection means overall better use of a limited resource. Perhaps best of all is that we are already working on our fall plantings, and are fully planned for next spring as well. I love being organized — and the book helps you do that.
As a side note, I also found this fantastic little planning spreadsheet from MiniFarmMom (She has an amazing little site with lots of resources as well, so check her out!). I modified her template to fit our situation, and it’s working perfectly for planning when I need all of my seeds planted by. With such a short growing season here in western Montana, we don’t have a lot of room for lollygagging so I need to be on top of things.
If you haven’t checked out Markham’s book yet, do so. It is worth every single penny. (And if you’re in the Missoula area, the Book Exchange has all of Markham’s books for a very affordable price!)