Mother Earth News, Hobby Farms, Backyard Poultry and Countryside, tear out articles and dream of the day your garden will feed your family? Have I got a book for you: The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times including the five crops you need to survive
and thrive: potatoes, corn, beans squash, and eggs.
Carol Deppe has a BS in zoology from the University of Florida, a PhD in biology from Harvard and special dietary needs brought about by allergies to wheat, dairy and gluten. Her educational background fits well with her practical gardening experience, and when combined with her ability to write, the result is a comprehensive and useful book. She covers growing, storing and using vegetables and eggs in both good times and also when economic, climate, health issues make times uncertain. Her book is personal and global; she is realistic and optimistic. Climatology, ecology, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, health and medicine are some of the fields in the book.
The book is divided into twelve chapters. The first seven set the stage by discussing basic gardening and sustainability rules, climate change, diet, exercise, water and soil. The final five chapters are devoted to the actual crops--potatoes, squash and pumpkins, beans, corn, and my favorite, "The Laying Flock." Deppe prefers ducks to chickens; her coastal Oregon home is more hospitable to web-footed denizens. Just when you must be thinking how boring this book must be, you can learn how to zap potatoes, make duck egg hash and a perfect pumpkin pie, cook beans "for maximum flavor and minimum toot" and bake skillet cornbread.
The appendices provide citations for further reading and contact information for seed companies, including Iowa's own Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, one of my spring pilgrimage sites for the past few years.
This book will not appeal to all readers, but it certainly is in my top ten for 2011. It’s on my gift wish list. I’ll stick it on the shelf between the Michaels: Pollan’s Food Rules and Perry’s Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting.