Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Urban Homestead

This is an interesting little book that my brother in law gave me for Christmas. He gave it to me with the comment "I heard you've taken up gardening." With Robert one can never tell if he is being serious or sarcastic. If he was serious, he's quite behind the times. I took up gardening in my teens, and Alex and I have been married 5 years in May. If he was being sarcastic....well, awesome. I LOVE to get new books on gardening. Please, support my addiction!

To start with, this isn't quite a book on gardening. It is a how-to guide on urban 'homesteading' as they call it. It's very thorough. I will come out with my only gripe against it first - it's kinda preachy. It's definitely one of those books that I usually put back down because it has political ambitions. I always joke about those folks who live in big cities on the west coast - and wouldn't you know, this book was written by a couple of them.

That being said, I decided to plow through this because it is high time I make some efforts to get all points of view, even from the ones that I usually laugh at because of their smug adherence to things they know much too little about, and I was pleasantly surprised. While The Urban Homestead does have political ambitions, it also holds well-written, thoroughly researched advice on container gardening, care of small animals and harvest preservation how-tos. It's a good, healthy mix of advice I would listen to, and fluff spewing from a big city-dweller.

I am going to attempt a project from this book too! A worm composter made from a couple of 8 gallon plastic totes. I hope it is worth the effort. It won't be very expensive, and worm compost is supposed to be some of the best. I am still struggling with compost here in my tiny strip of yard because I simply have no good place to put it while it's decaying and turning into wonderfully rich food for my veggies and fruits. So I keep moving the pile from one side of the house to the other and trying to decide what is best. I'm getting pretty good with reserving the kitchen scraps too, and I keep them in a plastic cauldron that was a leftover Halloween prop while I'm prepping the food and then run them outside to the pile. This will continue to work as long as we don't have negative temps and blizzard like weather. I refuse to be nice to Mother Earth if she is going to slap me in the face with rediculous winter warfare.

I will admit to the one 'preachy' thing in The Urban Homestead that I wholeheartedly agree with is the discussion of lawns, which I have mentioned before. My belief on the matter is that 100 years ago, no one would spend the hours, water and backbreaking work that some spend on lawncare when you can't eat it! I really must not have any appreciation for a well-manicured lawn! I find a lawn to be useless and a lot of hard work that doesn't have any real payoff except that it keeps your toes out of the dirt. Alex wants to rip it out and pour down cement. I laugh and say NO, we'll rip it out and plant a jungle of fruits, veggies and edible landscaping! We'll see who wins this argument.

Anyway, The Urban Homestead is a book to read with thoughtful review - not to be read as absolute truth and the only advice book you'll ever need. Don't take everything as gospel, please. But there are some excellent points, and it is very well organized and written.

Final Grade: B


Buffy Sue said...

I have friends that compost, and call the fruits "worm dirt". And I have to say- it helped to produce the best tomatoes that I have had in a long time!!!! He gave me a bag for when I start my garden this spring. I am hoping to be more successful than last year.

As for the lawn, Tate agrees with Alex- why not just concrete it all!

ACM said...

I too am anti-lawns. Let it grow!