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Daniel Haynes has commented on (2) products.

Successful Small-Scale Farming: An Organic Approach (Down-To-Earth Book) by Karl Schwenke
Successful Small-Scale Farming: An Organic Approach (Down-To-Earth Book)

Daniel Haynes, April 18, 2010

This is one of the best practical guides I've read so far on organic/small scale farming.

He's a fair bit of a curmudgeon but the gentle sort. Sometimes you detect the "old" farmer lecturing the dang city folk or "noob" farmers on how it should be done but the wealth of knowledge displayed makes it very easy to ignore any crankiness. The guy knows what he's talking about, cites his sources and explains his reasoning rather than just demanding you accept it is read simply because the wise old farmer has said so.

The writing is terse but not too terse. He always covers the important points and always gives pointers to important side roads you should follow if you wish to fully understand the issues.

Excellent practical/comment sense ways of understanding soil, the roles of the various components in it and how to make a seat of the pants evaluation of it. Lots of good "rules of thumb" in there like roughly at what point the size of a farm makes compost piles impractical to what sort of tools and implements you might need for specific tasks.

Only about 30% to 40% of the book was useful for my purposes but all of it was an enjoyable and informative read. I read about stuff I'll never use like the driving patterns for plowing or harvesting crops simply because he made it interesting and informative.

If you want concise information with easy to understand basic descriptions *and* pointers to the subjects or information you should follow for detailed explanations, this is it.

The book does show its age a bit, that's about the only significant downside. It'd be nice to read a newer/revised edition.
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Micro Eco-Farming: Prospering from Backyard to Small Acreage in Partnership with the Earth by Barbara Berst Adams
Micro Eco-Farming: Prospering from Backyard to Small Acreage in Partnership with the Earth

Daniel Haynes, April 18, 2010

Short version: Beyond bad.

Long version: If you want specific and factual information on farming or gardening, this book won't provide it.

If you a handful of names of very delicious sounding heirloom vegetables, it's worth a very quick skim through.

Sadly, the bulk of the book is nonsense of the worst sort. New Age idiocy and superstitions heaped on top of the most ridiculous anecdotal "evidence". Not even an attempt at logical or rational analysis. Just lots of stuff like "We sprinkled sea water on our vegetables and got beets the size of soccer balls and suddenly no more colds or flu in our family". I'm serious, that's one of the claims made in the book. Not bad enough for you? How about the 83 trace elements from the periodic table that are "absolutely required" for healthy soil/plants were once "evenly distributed" over the Earth. If that doesn't reduce even a first year geology student to tears of laughter wait until she gets to the part about plants and animals "sending out signals over the airwaves" that they're unhealthy/dying and thereby attracting weeds and predators to themselves.

Don't even get me started when she babbles on about "holy water", "radionics" and "paramagnetics". I wish I were making that up folks, but it's in the book that I paid $12 for.

How/why she came to the decision to leave the term "New Age" out of the title I don't know but if she had, I wouldn't have had to write the bad review because I wouldn't have wasted my time or money on it.

The amount of factual information in the book is so limited that I can't recommend it to anyone. The only reason I gave it a 2 rating is that she cites several sources, a few of which are quite good and helpful. That plus the aforementioned handful of descriptions of some delicious sounding heirloom crops kept it from getting a 1.

What limited facts it does (apparently accidentally) include can be found in much more practical and reality oriented books like "Successful Small-Scale Farming: An Organic Approach" by Karl Schwenke.

I'm going to keep my copy of "Micro Eco-Farming". I'm not going to sell it cheap, give it away or try to trade it back to Powells. It's so bad that I couldn't in good conscience pass it on to anyone. The buck and the bad book stops here.
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