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If you are only allow one book to start your 'self-sustain' journey from scratch for your backyard.. 

What book will that be? and why would you recommend it?

Looking for topic on: 
  • sustain backyard design
  • backyard lifestock
  • veggies patch, what to grow where and when
  • gardening (edible gardening)
  • etc...
All idea welcome :)

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For some time, I went crazy and bought a lot of books.. I haven't finished reading them yet... after reading some, I found I want to do more growing and trying things out first before going back to reading.

I have some ideas of which book fits which of your topic, but can't remember exactly the name and authors, I will check my bookshelf when I get home..
Finally got around to checking my bookshelves and get back to checking your topics again..but still find it difficult to come up with recommendation...
* Regarding sustainable backyard design.. is a bit broad, are you looking at water and energy conserving type of sustainability or food security self sufficient and minimal labour input garden design?
* For chickens, I refer to "keeping chickens: An Australian guide" most, and I also have some notes from "Keeping Poultry naturally". I have not came a cross a book which covers all type of livestocks...
* "Organic vegetable gardening" by Annette McFarlane, also autographed :P. Annette is local to South East Queensland, and regularly host seminars at BCC libraries. If you get up as early as 6am on Saturdays, she also co-host a gardening talk back radio show on ABC. Half of this book is dedicated to details on individual vegetables, which covers when to grow, where you can grow, what to sow (seed, crowns, seedling), how many for an average family, how long it takes, level of difficulty and a bunch of other information. Her website is at I also use the calendar on Another book, "fruit & vegetable gardening in Australia" by Michael Pollock also have listing of vegetables with when to plant then together with some cultivating and harvesting information. there's also information on herbs and fruits too. This one is not organic though.
* This is a bit general... I find none of the books covers everything, and a lot of the books have common information too... I tend to buy those that are published for Australia, but still found there are more information on temperate climate than subtropical.. especially information on subtropical and tropical fruit trees are really lacking...
I have a heap of gardening reference books - Fruit & Nuts & Discovering Vegetables, Herbs & Spices by Susanna Lyle, Pruning & Training and What Garden Pest or Disease is that - these are all good reference books.

Annette McFarlane's books are great, they are specific to our climate and have heaps of information. I have two that are both autographed - she laughed and said that would make them worth an extra 50c at a garage sale.

I have Backyard Poultry - Naturally and Square Metre Gardening I regret buying and wish I had simply borrowed from the library to read.

The two books that I use the most are:
* the Seed Saving Manual by Michele and Jude Fanton, this is great and includes growing information and seed saving information on a large range of plants. They are based in Byron Bay so it is reasonably close to our climate It is quite cheap at only $25 retail (I sell for bulk price cost at $20)
* All Your Gardening Questions Answered by Tom Wyatt - this is fantastic in an easy to read layout with heaps of basic information including home made remedies.

In saying that, I recommend that you get a subscription to Grass Roots instead. It is only $39.50 for 12 months (6 issues) and gets delivered to your door - maybe you could ask Santa. They make a great reference collection and every six months an index is included summarising the topics so you can easily locate what you want. I love reading what other people are doing and if there is something you are interested in you can always research it on the internet to get more detailed information.

If I have any questions or need advice I turn first to BLF - despite all the reference books I have. The ability to upload a photo of the specific issue and have other gardeners help me and give me advice is priceless. And of course there is a whole world of information available on the internet on whatever topic you are interested in.

There is a BLF member named Mark Thompson, here is an excerpt from his BLF page - I have no idea about the costs but might be worth asking. If you got an expert in to give you a design specific to your requirements and location it would save heaps of time. I have tried to read a couple of Bill Mollison's permaculture books and there is a lot of planning and watching that goes into designing a permaculture garden - it also seems pretty complicated especially as they seem (to me) to be mainly relating to having heaps of land rather than a suburban backyard.

I have a business called Plan To Plant, I have a real interest in Educating people about gardening, about ensuring that my clients have real grass-roots gardening advise and delivering it in a practical way.
My business delivers garden plans, plant lists and practical gardening information sheets.

Another alternative if you don't have the funds available for something like that would be to host a Garden Visit and have the Seed Saver members come around to your house and give advice on what they think would work best in your garden.
If you haven't already, subscribe to this free email newsletter service. They deliver emails to your inbox each month with what to plant that month specific to your climate.

I also forgot to mention, there is a BOGI book that is really great as well and has specific information to our climate including a planting guide - it is pretty cheap too, think about $10?
I know we're getting away from what you asked, Joanne ... but there isn't just one book with everything you need to know. You glean info here and there ('here' is BLF, 'there' is the local council library). It's a learning curve and you're on it for life! A life sentence but the nicest one you could get!

Earth Garden and Warm Earth magazines have more garden-oriented articles. Warm Earth is specifically sub-tropic to tropic. Earth Garden used to have a website with a lot of the magazine content online - they may still have. I love Grass Roots but read it now from the library.

My best advice about books is to join Brisbane Organic Growers Inc. They have a huge library with plenty of magazines. Borrow anything you would like to buy then read it and if you still want to have a copy - then buy it. I have bought many books some of which I have only read once others I refer to a lot. You basically need to do a lot of research and that's where the internet is great. Also BOGI has monthly speakers and question time as well as a monthly newsletter. There are also other groups that are great too with members here who could say more about that. BOGI also has its own bookshop with all the most popular and interesting books at a reduced price. Sometime you need to research by topics e.g. tomatoes; composting; worm farms; seed saving because not one book or website will have it all. Good luck
for these things i'd go with The Permaculture Home Garden by Linda Woodrow

and Permaculture II by David Holmgren and Bill Mollison. These two books give the 'how to put it together' point of view really well.

Then I'd start devouring everything by Jackie French for the 'how to do it in detail' side of looking after plants and animals :)

cheers SJP
Thanks Scarlette, just place a hold on the book by Linda Woodrow... can't wait to get it..
I would be reluctant to nominate one book - I guess that's why I have a library on all things to do with Agriculture and Animals, as I couldn't stop at one - however if you haven't read 'anything' by Gene Logsdon then I think your missing out

I started with his book "Homesteading - how to find new independence on the land" and then went to "Small Scale Grain Raising" - but I am hooked; I love his honest writing style and he has a multitude of books to read on many subjects. Look him up - it's worth the read .... Good luck !
Hi Chris,

I just google Gene Logsdon, is he the same as The Countrary Farmer?
don't buy any book which lumps Brisbane's growing season in with Sydney's. ;)
very true.. very different climate we have..


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