The Concise Guide To Self-Sufficiency; A Book Review

Self-Sufficiency.  What a satisfying phrase!  It was a phrase that seemed particularly satisfying when I pulled this book off the Library shelves this winter and then promptly got snowed in with it during a blizzard.

I had heard that John Seymour was a practical and inspiring author and teacher, but he proved to create quite an escapist read in his book The Concise Guide to Self-Sufficiency The Concise Guide To Self Sufficiency; A Book Review

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John Seymour, the author of this book, is a well established Irish writer, and teacher of the self-sufficient lifestyle. He opened a “School of Self Sufficiency” in Ireland after his books and radio programs about his own journey into traditional living became increasingly popular. Resurrecting the concept of simple living in the 1950′s and 1960′s before the environmental movement caught steam, John’s unique perspective was not only focused on crops and farming, but also on preserving the traditional tools, skills and crafts that where dying out in the modern age. “The Concise Guide To Self-Sufficiency” neatly explains in stories, pictures, charts and diagrams all the old “lost wisdom” of the previous era’s to the modern reading audience.

The chapters are brief, frank, and full of information that the author learned the hard way in his own life. The book has been updated several times since it’s first publication in the 1970′s, and remains a perennial favorite in the gardening world. Topics cover everything from what crops and flowers to plant in each month of the year, to how to build fences with free or natural materials, and how to make your own beer and vinegar.  From animal rearing, to canning, to the herb garden, John delivers what is considered in the publishing world to be the complete encyclopedia on sustainable living on a landholding.

As a gardener, landscape professional, and city gal, I was impressed with the massive amount of information on virtually every farm and garden topic that ever arose on his own farms.  I was also completely in awe of the author’s personal success, and ability to teach what he had learned to other folks from every walk of life, embracing his audience’s own skill sets and natural abilities along the way.  I appreciated the tone and perspective in this book, connecting with the start of John’s journey, which was not so much environmentally driven as it was driven by a desire to provide for his young family in the changing markets and economies of the 1960′s and 1970′s.

This book is really a must-read for the hobbyist, gardener, or student of self-sufficiency!  It has 250 pages, and illustrations or step by step instructions on almost every one of them, making the book a quick and easy read. This book is an amazing teaching tool that is guaranteed to make you a better gardener, and inspire you to do great things even in a small space. Check it out!

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