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Growing Good Food: A Citizen’s Guide to Backyard Carbon Farming by Acadia Tucker is a very timely book in these times of climate change, and an ideal book for emergency growing food in a crisis.
There’s no need to wait till things get bad though, this is an excellent book for gardeners and non-gardeners alike who wish get started in growing their own organic food.
The publisher describes this book as follows:
“This is a handbook for growing a Climate Victory Garden when the enemy is global warming. Acadia Tucker, a carbon farmer and gardener, invites us to think of gardening as civic action. By building carbon-rich soil, even in a backyard-sized patch, we can capture greenhouse gases and mitigate climate change, all while growing nutritious food.
To help us get started, and quickly, Tucker drafts plans for gardeners who have a little ground or a lot of it. She offers advice on how to prep soil, plant food, and raise fruits, herbs, and vegetables using regenerative methods. She describes the climate changes taking place in our own backyards and the many steps we can take to boost a garden’s resilience.
Growing Good Food includes calls to action and insights from leaders in the regenerative movement, including David Montgomery, Anne Biklé, Gabe Brown, Wendell Berry and Mary Berry, and Tim LaSalle. By the end of it, you’ll know how to grow some really good food, and build a healthier world, too.
Learn how to grow: blackberries, currants, fruit trees, herbs, rhubarb, strawberries, walking onions, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, garlic, kale, lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, squash. Growing Good Food: A citizen’s guide to backyard carbon farming is part of our Growing Good Food Series. It joins Growing Perennial Foods: A Field Guide to Raising Resilient Herbs, Fruits, and Vegetables , also written by Acadia Tucker.“
Does this sound ambitious? It may, but after reading this book I’m convinced it achieves its intended goal with finesse and really delivers!
I found this book very easy to read, and feel it would be very accessible to a wide audience. It starts at the very beginning, explaining how successful gardening begins with healthy soils, and then introduces the idea of regenerative gardening, providing gardeners with practical instructions on how to improve the soils they have to work with so they can garden more sustainably.
Next, the author discusses gardening in the context of climate change, not from a theoretical or conceptual perspective, but from a very useful, practical one. This is an important subject missing from many gardening books. Each region of the US is discussed in turn, and in each instance the author describes the biggest threats to growing food that are being encountered, the changes in climate that are being observed, and what the consequences are for gardeners.
The author’s writing style strikes the right balance between education, practical instruction and sharing of valuable personal experience. This makes the book more interesting and captivating, as you engage with her story and share her food growing journey while learning about how to grow food. Each chapter builds on the one before it it a smooth progression, and this book explains technical concepts to a sufficient level of depth to be really educational, while doing so in plain language, which is brilliant!
What is most impressive is how comprehensive this book is for a medium length publication that can be read very quickly. Where do I start? The practical advice on improving soil even goes as far as making compost, so if you didn’t know how to do that, you’ll find out how to here. Everything you need to get a garden started has been thoughtfully included.
The step-by-step instructions are presented in the order required to build a garden from scratch, and thus the chapters progress in a logical sequence. The proceeding chapters explain how to map your site, choose resilient perennial plants for your garden, when to plant, how to start plants from seeds and cuttings, even how to start seedlings indoors.
To assist with plant familiarity, comprehensive plant lists are included, which cover both perennial and annual plants. Each plant description includes practical information that every new gardener needs to know, such as the growing conditions required, the best time of the year and the best way to plant, growing tips, growing challenges to be aware of, and harvesting advice.
That’s not all though, once you’ve got your garden going, the author explains in detail how to maintain the garden through each season of the year, spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
The instructions on garden care also include organic pest control solutions for the most common pests, everything from aphids to animals. The reference tables describes what the pests look like, where you find them, and what to do about them. Common plant diseases and their controls are also discussed briefly but adequately.
Since there is a strong focus on soil building and soil care, the garden maintenance chapters also cover the selection and use of soil amendments, fertilisers and manures. For the sake of completeness, a short section on soil pH is also included.
In several chapters there are question and answer sections which cover the type of questions that new gardeners most often ask, which is a very useful inclusion, and another way in which the author shares her knowledge and experience.
There are a moderate amount of illustrations in this book, and while it’s not a graphical instructional book, the explanations are so clear that I feel there isn’t a really need to fill the book with pictures, That said, one handy inclusion for new gardeners at the end of the book is a pictorial guide of ‘useful garden tools for backyard carbon farmers’ with short descriptions of how they’re used.
The book concludes with a ‘Notes’ section, which is essentially an easy to read list of references to all the vital facts and figures presented throughout the book, citing their sources. This is valuable if readers wish to learn more about any topic covered in the book.
To illustrate how comprehensive this 168 page book is, I’ve listed the contents below.
CITIZEN GARDENERS UNITE 1
THE CLIMATE CRISIS IN YOUR BACKYARD
Southern Great Plains 21
Northern Great Plains 23
OUR GOOD EARTH
How soil and plants draw down CO2 33
Cultivate good soil 35
Take measure of your soil 37
Clear your plot 38
Build your plant bed 39
How do I know whether I have healthy soil? 43
I have contaminated soil Can I still grow food in it? 43
How do I make compost to use in my garden? 45
What can I use for mulch? 50
What potting soil is best-suited to container gardening? 50
PLANT YOUR CLIMATE VICTORY GARDEN
Map your site 57
Choose resilient plants 58
Time your planting 62
Start your plants 64
How can I find plants that grow well where I live? 69
I have a tiny garden How do I maximize my space? 70
Can I practice backyard carbon farming if I only have pots to plant in? 70
PLANTS FOR BACKYARD CARBON FARMERS
Fruit trees 83
Walking Onion 93
Helping tender perennials survive winter 100
Favorite Garden Annuals
KEEP IT GOING
Spring: Feed the soil 130
Summer: Tend your garden 131
Fall: Prepare for winter 138
Do I need to use fertilizer in addition to compost? 141
My plants seem prone to disease How do I save them? 145
My soil is too acidic or too basic How do I balance it? 146
Tools for Backyard Carbon Farmers 148
CHARTS & GUIDES
Signs you have good soil 44
Compost materials 46
Choose your mulch 51
Perennial plant characteristics 60
Annual plant characteristics 62
Organic pest solutions 134
Seasonal checklist 140
Common diseases and organic controls 144
Tim LaSalle 9
David R Montgomery and Anne Biklé 29
Mary Berry 53
Gabe Brown 73
Michael Weaver 127
Paperback: 168 pages
Publisher: Stone Pier Press (October 31, 2019)
Food growing is a valuable skill that has been lost by the vast majority of people living in big cities, and for many it’s hard to take that big first step to just get started. This book provides the right guidance for anyone wishing to begin their journey into organic food gardening, which is more than agriculture, it is a way of reconnecting with nature, the cycles of the seasons, and the rhythm of life. Gardening is truly a healthy and enjoyable activity, as well as a solution to the challenges our world is facing.
This book reminds us that we can change our world for the better by learning how to grow food. To share a quote from it, “By 1943, the nearly 20 million Victory Gardens across the country were growing 40 percent of the nation’s food.” This is truly inspiring! If victory gardens saved their countries during World War II, then a climate victory garden revolution may be exactly what is needed right now to empower communities to become more resilient in times of crisis, and address the issue of long-term food security.
‘Growing Good Food: A Citizen’s Guide to Backyard Carbon Farming’ is an excellent book with a purpose, it’s the gardening book for everyone, and If there was ever was a need to build food gardens in an emergency, then this would be the DIY manual that would be guaranteed to get people started on the right track. This book is definitely recommended!
Deep Green rating for “Growing Good Food: A Citizen’s Guide to Backyard Carbon Farming” by Acadia Tucker is 5 stars!
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