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Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)

Organic Gardening is Affordable, More Nutritious, and Fun; a Sustainable-Living Manual

Copyright © All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission; Author’s Google profile; Posted December 17, 2012

Backyard Farming book; photo courtesy Angela England


This book, Backyard Farming on an Acre (ISBN 978-1-61564-214-4), by Angela England comes just at the right time—you can plan your crops, till some compost into your garden plot, and put up a fence (provided your ground isn’t frozen.

Yes, gardening is a bit of work but it can be so incremental that the effort is minimal. Add more square footage every year and try different things to find out what works for you and your family.

Growing Organic Produce Gives You Control

Many people would like to eat more organic food but lament that it costs more than the chemically-fertilized and pesticide-laden version. But as England points out, it doesn’t have to be that way.

For example, if you start your plants from seeds rather than seedlings, your cost will be minimal. Build your own compost pile and you won’t have to shell out cash for that. Do you currently bag leaves and grass clippings? Don’t!

Taking it to the Next Level; Keep Livestock

Now, you may not be able keep livestock due to neighborhood association restrictions or nosy neighbors, but it is another step on the road of self-sufficiency. England keeps chickens and goats. Livestock like these can provide eggs, milk, and meat.

Do you know which chicken breeds you will need for eggs, which for meat, and which are dual-purpose? After reading the chapter on this topic you’ll know as much about it as Old McDonald (who had a farm, e i e i o).

All of these things, the flora and the fauna, are interrelated and interactive, a true agglomerate, and the author goes into minute detail explaining how to handle it all efficiently and effectively. You will learn how to rotate crops, what tools you will need, and how to make your own cheese.

Harvest Your Own Fruits and Berries

Satsuma_Mandarin orange harvest; photo © Kelly Smith
England walks through some of the best fruits, berries, and nuts. Of course, which ones are appropriate for you will depend on your location, and hence, your growing zone.

In the photo to the right you can see my Owari Satsuma Mandarin Orange tree with it’s first-year harvest.

Nut trees are also a good investment. With Christmas right around the corner the grocery stores are full of nuts and they are expensive. Walnuts and pecans are popular and they produce for many years. And if a tree ever has to be cut down, you will have a lot of valuable hardwood for those woodworking projects.

Pollinating Bees are Essential for a Good Harvest

Pollination doesn’t happen by accident. Although tomatoes are wind-pollinators, most vegetables need the help of bees. This chapter goes into detail about the nature of bees, how to set up an apiary, and how to tend them.

Being a beekeeper won’t just increase your backyard harvest, it will also provide you with local honey. Some say that local honey will help with allergies because it is produced with local pollen.

Can bees be dangerous? Of course, but this is a very long-established art and England goes to long lengths to explain how to work with them in a safe manner.

Year-Round Food Production

There are locations where it is absolutely too cold to grow in the winter, but in many cases you can extend your growing season. There are some plants that simply prefer the cooler months and a greenhouse is always an option.

This book explains these options and also provides long lists of what to grow when. Further, it goes on to make the distinction between medicinal and culinary herbs; and everybody, even an apartment-dweller has space for an herb garden.

How to Store Your Farm Bounty

It makes sense to “over-produce” so you will have enough food for the leaner months. Our predecessors used to call this process “putting-up food” and for all I know they still do. The practice is a logical way to limit having to buy seasonal food from overseas.

The various methods are explained in detail—canning, freezing, dehydrating, smoking, and using a root cellar. The take-away from this is to have a steady supply of healthy food all year long.

It’s not all about eating. Toward the end of the book, England takes readers deeper into into the world of more ways to process and use the products from the backyard farm.

The topic I know I’m going to hop into is cheese-making (but brewing cider and wine might also be fun). Remember the goats mentioned above? And sheep if you happen to keep them. You will learn all about working fleece and making yarn.

Finally, soap-making and crafts round out this trove of information. I have to give this book a two-thumbs-up. It might be marketed as a farming (and homesteading) guide, but it could just as easily be classified as an urban and suburban survival guide.

One other aspect I enjoyed while reading this book was the abundant number of photos. This is a topic that really lends itself to the visual. To get your copy, go to Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (Living Free Guides); you will find yourself referencing it all year long.


  • Angela England. (2012). Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less). Alpha Books, New York, New York

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