This is about a quarter of my farming bookshelf. I get a ton of info from the Web, particularly in winter when I have more time to cruise around online, but books I’m still most fond of. Let’s see what we have…
For one-stop shopping, you could take Rodale’s Garden Problem Solver and a bunch of seeds and that’s all you’d need to get started. This book wasn’t an early acquisition, I think I got somewhere into my first year, but it’s turned out able to answer just about every organic production question I’ve had, from cultivation to irrigation. It’s a little sun-bleached from trips to the field. And then, The New Organic Grower is probably required reading if you’re selling what you grow: practical and also kinda inspiring on the microfarm marketing side.
The thing is, when it comes to research, there’s so much farming and gardening info out there, so many different ways to do each little thing, so many tips and hints, and also so much of the same standard info repeated from source to source (and not necessarly always “right” or the best thing for your situation), you can run into information overload. So you have to absorb slowly and steadily, hand in hand with actually DOING.
On the other hand, when you’re starting out from scratch, you do need certain basic info at your fingertips, you can’t memorize it all. Instead, you are likely going to have a book or at least a piece of paper right out in the field to consult. Wide research and reading I’ve found to be absolutely helpful and important, BUT, having a single field reference with pure basics, things like row spacing, optimum soil temperatures, concise pest profiles, and so on for all of your crops is also invaluable until this stuff is installed in your head. For me, Garden Problem Solver covered that, but there are no doubt others.
Here are the rest of the highlights from this section of the shelf:
Weeds… – There are lots of weed guides, but try to actually identify a weed from line drawings, photos, words. For me, this has been a problem. This particular guide has somehow managed to assemble photos that look like the plants in the field!
Putting Food By – Everything you need to know about preserving food for winter months. Really excellent.
Root Cellaring – Great book about…root cellaring.
Square Foot Gardening – A pretty well-known title, aimed at smaller and very tiny personal plots. The info’s OK, but the system of precise square foot sections and all that is a little too rigid for me.
The rest are all interesting and reasonably useful and relevant, even The Ten-Day MBA, but…non-essential.