Finally, a gardening book written for gardeners dealing with the realities of peak oil and unpredictable weather! Carol Deppe's book The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times describes how to grow, store and cook "the five crops you need to survive and thrive - potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs." Ms. Deppe covers these topics in a way that details, as she puts it, how to garden to "the appropriate level of sloppiness," using just enough time and effort to get the desired results, instead of how to garden to a fossil-fueled vision of perfection.
Carol Deppe, a Harvard-educated biologist with over thirty years of plant-breeding and gardening experience, has distilled an incredible store of knowledge into this book, which tops the scales at over three hundred pages long. In the book, she discusses:
- Growing food in an era of unpredictable weather
- Gardening with little to no irrigation or store-bought inputs
- Keeping a flock of ducks/chickens and growing most of their food
- Saving seeds and breeding plants
- Storing crops
Ms. Deppe's unique perspective, which sometimes goes against conventional wisdom, kept the book both amusing and interesting. How often do you find gardening books with sections entitled "Why I Hate Drip Irrigation," "Why I Don't Compost Anymore," and "The Power of Pee?" She is also not afraid to take a stand on nutritional topics, and although I found the chapter on celiac disease a little distracting, I can see that the information might benefit many people.
Her discussion of diet and nutrition related to the five main crops, and especially her discourse on the specifics of storing foods and saving seeds, seems particularly versatile. As Ms. Deppe said in an interview with Makenna Goodman on Alternet, The Resilient Gardener is as much about storing and using food as it is about growing it, which makes the book as helpful for people learning to cook and use local food as it is for gardeners. While the sheer volume of information related to some of the topics was overwhelming at times, I think these sections may be worth their weight in gold when they are needed.
As usual, I found myself wishing that a gardening book had been written by someone who lived in Oklahoma. But can I really fault the author for living in Oregon, which has a very different climate than we have?
To sum it up: The Resilient Gardener covers a wide range of subjects, in great detail, that will interest people who plan to garden in a post-peak, unpredictable weather kind of planet. Carol Deppe is not afraid to defy conventional wisdom, and is brave enough to discuss some taboo topics. The Resilient Gardener also garnered rave reviews from Toby Hemenway (author of the permaculture classic Gaia's Garden - one of my favorite books) and Gene Logsdon (author of Small-Scale Grain Raising and Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind).
So if you find yourself intrigued by this review, sign up to win a copy of The Resilient Gardener by leaving your name in the comments (no anonymous or non-U.S. lower 48 registrations, please). I will announce the winner on Wednesday morning. And if you don't happen to win... this book might make a great (i.e. useful) gift for the gardener in your life.
Final note: Because of the series of posts I wrote on resilient gardening, Chelsea Green mailed me a free review copy of The Resilient Gardener, however, I am keeping that copy for myself and sponsoring this holiday giveaway on my own dime.