Jackie French’s book, ‘Backyard Self Sufficiency’ is a favourite of mine. It has had a place on my bookshelf for about 8 years now, and I refer to it regularly for specific advice on particular plants, or how to preserve something I’ve grown too much of, as well as a pick-me-up when I’m having a gardening lull and need to be re-inspired. Jackie’s focus is on ‘almost self-sufficiency’ and planning a rich,lush garden that supplies your needs with minimal maintenance. She believes:

A backyard should be able to feed you, entertain you, and give you joy – a good garden should be as thick as a fulfilled life.’

The advice is very practical, from the planning stages, to information on growing your own staples, veggies, and fruit. She writes about small animals that may compliment a suburban garden, no-dig planting methods and soil care, and having an all year supply of food on tap in your backyard through timing planting for maximum production and having a range of perennials on hand.

Her suggestions about closer planting and intermingling plants resonated with me  immediately- I’ve never been keen on orderly rows and weeding around the gaps in plants – Jackie teaches you how to maximise every inch of space you have, horizontal and vertical, and at the same time improve your soil and minimise weeding. She also covers preserving (and points out that harvesting is always the hardest part – growing is the easy bit! So true!), and how to use your garden as a medicine chest. It’s a great read, and a valuable resource for any gardener I think.

I am selling Backyard self-sufficiency here, or you could get it at most bookstores or your library.


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