21st Century Smallholder – Book review

If you are looking for a book that covers everything about being self-sufficient, then this is the only one you will ever need. In ‘21st Century Smallholder’, author Paul Waddington describes various eco-friendly ways to change your home and garden in a simple and often very humorous manner.

Most of us think that to live a self-sufficient life, we have to sell up and move to the country but as Paul states in 21st Century Smallholder, this is not always a viable option. This is what makes this book worth its money. Starting with apartment owners and moving all the way up to houses with big gardens, Paul explains how we can live in a more eco-friendly environment.

Window box allotments

Paul starts by explaining how we can grow some of our own food in window boxes and pots in a small balcony or tiny garden. Crops like herbs, strawberries, tomatoes and salads are ideal for people living in the city because they are fast growing and space-efficient. Even plants such as peas and beans can be trained to climb walls saving you even more space. Moreover, because they are easy to maintain and grow quickly, the results of your window box allotments will be quick in coming. The only problem is you might be tempted to have a taste and end up seeing your crops plundered before they land on the table.

Bigger gardens, bigger results

As you move up from small gardens to houses with big gardens, the opportunities to live self-sufficiently really start to increase. Not only can you grow your window box crops but you can also plant crops that require more space like potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower. Sections of the garden can be put aside for a compost heap or even a small pond to attract frogs and birds that will help keep the garden pests at bay.

Chickens on the loose

If you really want to turn your back garden into a smallholding, Paul in covers a section on livestock though for most of us, chickens may be an easier option than keeping goats, sheep and cows. A farmyard full of lowing cows might not be advisable in your average suburban neighborhood. The great thing about chickens is that they are relatively easy to house and maintain. Bear in mind that a chicken lays an egg a day so even with only four chickens you will soon be selling eggs outside your front door.

If you are raising livestock for their meat, it might be worth keeping in mind that you may have to explain to your child at some point that Toffee, their favorite chicken, has just been served for Sunday lunch.

Total self-sufficiency

If you are really serious about self-sufficiency, 21st Century Smallholder goes onto to cover the very top of the eco-friendly ladder. Paul explains how to use solar panels, wind turbines and even water features to create electricity and heat. Subjects as diverse as bee keeping are covered as well as how to turn your garden into a paradise for wildlife.

The most refreshing thing about Paul’s book is the extensive research he has done and the humorous way in which he writes. Paul lists the pros and cons of each situation and does not hold back if he thinks that something that is hailed as eco-friendly does not really work. For example, wind turbines are used to generate electricity around the world but for even a large property, you would need a garden full of them to generate enough electricity to drop off the grid. And of course, you would need constant wind.

Paul Waddington’s 21st Century Smallholder can be bought at most online book retailers like Amazon and is well worth the money, even if you are a beginner or only have an apartment with which to work your self-sufficiency magic.


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