I am always dreaming of my own smallholding, where I can grow fruits and vegetables, have a few chickens for those yummy fresh eggs, and perhaps a couple of pigs or some goats. So books such as Living On One Acre Or Less often find themselves in my hands, to fuel my dream.
I have read several books like this, all with similar useful advice, but I found the layout, the colourful photos of many different examples and the simplicity of this, made it very readable. Even the size means you can lay it flat on the table or across your lap.
It begins in the most important place – how to plan your plot. A birds-eye view example of Sally Morgan’s plot, along with a planning checklist, really help the reader visualise their own space and how best to move forward. Sally mentions zoning, which is key in permaculture design. How to zone your plot is very dependent on your needs, your location and your time, so it is important to get this right.
Healthy soil is vital to a productive plot and I was pleased to see compost teas, wormeries and comfrey included amongst the more common advice of crop rotation. There is even mention of the permaculture favourite, hugel-kultur beds, although these don’t suit every location.
Amongst the vegetable pages are a variety of perennial vegetables, and several tubers and roots, which can often be often overlooked due to their lower yields. However, they require a lot less maintenance. I would have liked the vegetable section to have included information on layering, as mentioned in the forest garden chapter, as this can be very useful when planting perennials and annuals.
For any smallholder looking to create a business, the inclusion of a flower patch, or a polytunnel, will add another dimension.
Livestock plays a key role in this book, which is good to see, as they can add to the nutrient cycle as well as providing meat. Included are sheep and goats, poultry for both eggs and meat, pigs, fish and bees. I was interested to see aquaponics (fish farming) included as it can be criticised due to the lack of space for fish to swim in.
There isn’t a huge amount of detail for each topic, but I like this. It makes this a great guide for a beginner, who can then search online or through the many books out there on smallholding to get further details on the areas they are interested in.
Living On One Acre Or Less provides anyone interested in creating their own plot of heaven with the tools to get started. Sometimes, it’s just as important to get started and learn as you go, and this book gives you the knowledge on where to start and what to consider to set you on your journey.
Full of colourful photographs to inspire you, and plenty of information to get you started, this is a handy guide for any beginner.
Rozie Apps is assistant editor at PM