+ Canning: Reliable Canning Books

  • Always check current guidance with the USDA or university extensions. Never guess. If you are new to canning, I suggest So Easy to Preserve as the best resource available in print. For the sake of clarity regarding 'reliable recipes' I've made the division between 'reliable' and 'other' as the Ball Blue Book and So Easy to Preserve are updated regularly to reflect current safety guidance. Just because a recipe is in a new cookbook doesn't mean that it is a safe home canning recipe. This doesn't mean that books in the 'Other' list are somehow inherently unsafe--only that they are not regularly updated to reflect current safety guidelines. Again, don't forget to check with university extensions! A quick email can get you a solid answer if you are digging for a piece of information. And you don't have to stick to extensions in your state! I've found states that seem to have more folks who rely on canning to have more robust extensions who are are available to help! Alaska, Minnesota, Utah, Iowa...etc.
  • Elizabeth L. Andress and Judy A. Harrison (2014). So Easy to Preserve, 6th Edition. Cooperative Extension/The University of Georgia/Athens. This is my number one recommnedation for home canning. It is detailed and answers to many if not all home canning questions. The only way you are going to get your hot little hands on this 387-page tome is to place an order with the Cooperative Extension of Georgia. It's only $18.00 and shipping is included! I am not sure why I didn't have this book sooner but it is a go-to resource for answering questions. Hundreds of tasty recipes, tons of questions and answers, food preservation specifics laid out simply. Really, no words wasted in this book--leaves next to nothing to question. Sections on drying, freezing, and pickling are included.

  • Ball Blue Book: Guide to Preserving. While many of the recipes might have more sugar or more salt than you might prefer--these are tried, true, and tested recipes. This book is inexpensive and even sold at newsstands. But, if I were only able to buy one book, I would choose **So Easy to Preserve over the Ball Blue Book. Why? So Easy to Preserve** answers questions that canners new and old alike might have and it is also chuck full of reliable recipes.

+ Canning: Other Canning Books

  • Always check current guidance with the USDA or university extensions. Never guess. If you are new to canning, I suggest So Easy to Preserve as the best resource available in print. For the sake of clarity regarding 'reliable recipes' I've made the division between 'reliable' and 'other' as the Ball Blue Book and So Easy to Preserve are updated regularly to reflect current safety guidance. Just because a recipe is in a new cookbook doesn't mean that it is a safe home canning recipe. This doesn't mean that books in the 'Other' list are somehow inherently unsafe--only that they are not regularly updated to reflect current safety guidelines. Keep in mind that I am referring to current safety guidelines in the United States!
  • Carol W. Costenbader (2002). The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes for Freezing, Canning, Drying, Pickling Fruits and Vegetables. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 9781580174589. My favorite bread and butter pickles recipe is a spin on a recipe in this book. Vinegar inspiration, check. A bit more unusual recipes that you might like, check. More than just canning, check.
  • Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine (2006). Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving: 400 Delicious and Creative Recipes for Today. Robert Rose, Inc. ISBN: 0778801314. Many home canning books do not get into pressure canning. So, this is nice for that. Many more recipes than in the standard Ball Blue Book. A worthy addition to the cookbook arsenal.

  • Liana Krissoff (2010). Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry. Stewart, Tabori, & Chang. ISBN: 9781584798644. I have a love and dislike of this book. On one hand there are many great recipes and on the other hand many recipes are fussy. Worth checking out from the library to determine if it's worthy for your bookshelf.

  • Kevin West (2013). Saving the Season: A cook's guide to home canning, pickling, and preserving. Alfred A Knopf. ISBN: 9780307599483. Glossy, hardcover, tons of beautiful photographs. Many often overlooked tidbits and facts are added in for safety, clarity, and successful preservation. Although some of the narrative bits might seem a bit tedious if you just want the recipe already--they really do add lots of information to deepen your understanding of home preservation and great food preparation.

  • Linda Ziedrich (2009). The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves: 200 Classic and Contemporary Recipes Showcasing the Fabulous Flavors of Fresh Fruits. The Harvard Common Press. ISBN: 9781558324060.

  • Linda Ziedrich (2009). The Joy of Pickling: 250 Flavor-Packed Recipes for Vegetables and More from the Garden or Market. The Harvard Common Press. ISBN: 9781558323759. Both of the Linda Ziedrich's books are worth the buy--looking for inspiration? Check. Packed with enough good information to create terrific home canned foods for your larder.

+ Chicken Keeping

  • Jessi Bloom (2012). Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard. Timber Press, Inc. ISBN: 9781604692372. A beautiful mix of good chicken guidance and inspirational pictures of hen houses and gardens. Lots of plant lists to help you decide how to create a chicken compatible garden.
  • Gail Damerow (1994). The Chicken Health Handbook. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 9780882666112. Essential book to have on had as a reference guide.
  • Gail Damerow (2010). Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 9781603424691. Classic book for chicken keepers. Includes nearly everything that you need to know.
  • Patricia Foreman (2010). City Chicks: Keeping Micro-flocks of Laying Hens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-recyclers, and Local Food Suppliers. Good Earth Publications, Inc. ISBN: 9780962464850. Great introductory book focused on laying chickens and small city flocks.
  • G.F. Heuser (2003). Feeding Poultry. Norton Creek Press. ISBN: 0972177027. Note: This is a reprint of the 1955 classic. This tome will provide more information than most backyard flocksters will ever need or want. If you are set on knowing oodles of details: understanding specifics of nutrition deficiencies and the effects (with photos), have an interest in the curious details of by-products (by the way castor beans whether steamed or not result in poultry death) that have been researched as foodstuffs for poultry, and want to check out charts detailing crude protein, fat, and specific amino acids? Then this is the book for you. Personally, I've found it more straight to the point and a quicker reference than some online databases. I use it to get in the ballpark and then confirm with more current data and research. Okay fine, it's only for the chicken feed super geeks.
  • Harvey Ussery (2011). The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An all-natural approach to raising chickens and other fowl for home and market growers. Chelsea Green Publishing Company. ISBN: 9781603582902. My absolute favorite book chicken book. The guidance is specific while freeing the flockster to learn and understand holistic strategies and techniques and be ze own expert. From deep litter management to custom rations, from flock management to chicken harvesting, this book covers it all! If you are looking for more introductory content this book may not be suitable. Terrific holistic chicken care practices.

+ Cooking

  • Mark Bittman (1998). How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food. Wiley Publishing, Inc. ISBN: 9780028610108. Sometimes you just need an answer, quick and simple direction. As members of a beef, pork, and lamb CSA, we get cuts of meat that I am not sure how to prepare...Bittman solved my culinary dilemmas. Basic cooking techniques for rices, grains, beans, etc. are covered so that you know what to do with that cool new bean from the store or your garden. Several of my favorite recipes are from this cookbook. Do not let the title fool you, culinary creators new and seasoned may find this book very useful.
  • Deborah Madison (1997). Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Broadway Books. ISBN: 9780767927475. This book was gifted to me and how and why it wasn't in my cookbook arsenal sooner, I'll never know. Want to create dishes that make all the vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, etc. the stars of the show rather than poor, soy-based copies of meat? Deborah builds and develops flavors that are amazing! Her soup recipes are so rich and flavorful. Plus, the translation to dishes that, if you like, contain meat/fish/poultry is incredible or you might just have several wonderful vegetarian meals each week.
  • Alice Waters (2007). The Art of Simple Food. Clarkson Potter/Publishers. ISBN: 9780307336798. The title really tells it all. Featuring good, clean, and simple foods and recipes. Variations are offered...allow this book to open up the world of culinary simplicity: great meals do not need to be overly complex. The follow-on book: The Art of Simple Food II, is nice too but I use this one much more. Biscotti, cake, soups, tarts, syrups, fruit preserves...go simple!
  • Alice Waters (2015). My Pantry. Pam Krauss Books. ISBN: 9780804185288. While at first I was a bit bummed that there wasn't much to this little volume--it is a terrific addition to the cookbook collection as it has plenty of little tidbits from spice blends and savory preserves to cheeses and sweet preserves.

+ Composting and Soil

  • Mary Appelhof (1997). Worms Eat My Garbage. Flowerfield Enterprises, LLC. ISBN: 9780977804511. Classic book on worm composting. Start with this classic and go from there.
  • Malcolm Beck (1997). The Secret Life of Compost: A Guide to Static-Pile Composting- Lawn, Garden, Feedlot or Farm. ISBN: 9780911311525. An authority on static composting.
  • Stu Campbell (1998). Let It Rot!: The Gardener's Guide to Composting. Storey Communications, Inc. ISBN: 1580170234. Covers many composting strategies to understand and compare so that you can have a composting process that works for you and your garden. Plus lots of compost bin designs.
  • Alys Fowler (2008). Garden Anywhere. Chronicle Books, LLC. ISBN: 9780811868754. Some very practical (and sexy!) composting solutions including wooden worm boxes and sexy compost bins. 107's worm bins are based on Alys' plans in this book; the plans are quite simple and you won't need to add plastic bins to your landscape to support worm composting.
  • Grace Gershuny (1992). The Rodale Book of Composting. Rodale Books. ISBN: 9780878579914. Classic composting book.
  • Soil and Water Conservation Society—Dr. Elaine Ingham is the author of six of the eight chapters (2000). Soil Biology Primer. Soil and Water Conservation Society. Terrific introduction to the microbes in the soil.
  • Joseph Jenkins (2005). The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure. Chelsea Green Publishing. ISBN: 9780964425835. It's time to stop denying the impact of creating sewage with every toilet flush! Understand the hows and whys of a humanure toilet and composting.

+ Dairy Goat Keeping

  • Jerry Belanger (2010). Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats: Breeds, Care, Dairying, Marketing. Storey Publishing, LLC. ISBN: 9781603425802. Just getting started with goats or wonder where to start? Belanger thoroughly covers the basics and well as some of the more challenging elements of goat keeping.
  • Jennie Palches Grant (2012). City Goats: The Goat Justice League's Guide to Backyard Goat Keeping. Mountaineers Books. ISBN: 9781594856990. A honest look at goats in the city. Keeping goats is not the same as having a few chickens or maintaining a hive. Two goats will not result in a cheap source of milk! There can be many challenges if you are not an experienced goat owner such as selecting dairy goats, freshening, kidding, dehorning, proper care of the udders, hoof care, and so forth. Check out this read if you are not sure if you want to have goats in your urban or suburban backyard.

+ Ducks & Geese

  • ljkljlj*

+ Edible Landscaping & Gardening

  • Eliot Coleman (1995). The New Organic Grower. Chelsea Green Publishing Company. ISBN: 9780930031756.
  • Rosalind Creasy (2010). Edible Landscaping. Sierra Club Books. ISBN: 9781578051540.
  • Alys Fowler (2008). Garden Anywhere. Chronicle Books, LLC. ISBN: 9780811868754. So much simply practical guidance! This is a favorite for newer gardeners who may feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of books and information. Alys' style is very straight forward, practical, and beautiful. She hosted a show on BBC The Edible Garden and she also has a video series Earth to Alys.
  • Ivette Soler (2011). The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden. Timber Press. ISBN: 9781604691933. Terrific, compact read that delivers what is needed for a transformation to edible landscaping including strategies that help minimize "holes" in the garden when you eat it!
  • Rhonda Massingham Hart (2011). Vertical Vegetable and Fruit: Creative Gardening Techniques for Growing up in Small Places. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 9781603429986. I checked this book out from the library several times before I committed to purchasing it because I was unsure of its long term usefulness. But, on later consideration it is nice to add to the shelf but you may want to borrow this one rather than purchase it.This small tome will help you find some solutions when the only option is to go up because the space is so limited. Specific varieties suitable for vertical growing are included but the list isn't very deep for those of us in Southern California.

+ Essential Oil Safety and Aromatherapy

  • I am not a licensed aromatherapist or a licensed anything. I offer these resources as the resources that I use and find helpful. As always proceed with knowledge and at your own risk.
  • Kathi Keville and Mindy Green (2009). Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art. Crossing Press. 9781580911894.
  • Kurt Schnaubelt (1998). Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy. Healing Arts Press. ISBN: 9780892817436.
  • Kurt Schnaubelt (2011). The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy. Healing Arts Press. ISBN: 9781594114256.
  • Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young (2014). Essential Oil Safety. Churchill Livingstone. ISBN: 9780443062414. This book is not being given away on the cheap! However, it offers insight into the safe use of essential oils. As we start making our own personal care products, cleaners, and so forth, it's important the we understand the ingredients that we are using. Using essential oils safely is not only a good thing, it is also economical to the wallet while respecting the precious oils that require copious amounts of plant material to produce. And from my perspective, it ends much of the conjecture that can be found aimlessly wondering around the internet.

+ Fermentation

  • Gianaclis Caldwell (2016). Mastering Basic Cheesemaking: The Fun and Fundamentals of Making Cheese at Home, Personal Lessons from a Master Cheesemaker. New Society Publishers. ISBN: 9780865718180. Hot damn! This book is a power packed, action packed cheesemaking gem! Gianaclis' precise approach and conversational tone are just perfect. Her experience as a master cheesemaker both at home and as a licensed dairy creating artisanal cheeses who is able to translate all her experience into book form is simply unrivaled. Part 2 walks the cheesemaker through lessons that build on each other so that in the end the cheesemaker is ready for Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking. If you are new to cheesemaking, this is THE BOOK to grab! I wish that I had this one when I first started out. I highly recommend this book!
  • Gianclis Caldwell (2012). Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking: The Ultimate Guide for Home-Scale and Market Producers. Chelesa Green. ISBN: 9781603583329. I scored this book in 2012 when I decided to go beyond the little cheesemaking book that I'd had since the early 90s. In fact, I checked out nearly every book on cheesemaking that I could from the library. From there I selected six books to purchase. Of the six books, this book is my absolute favorite and most referenced. Why? Gianaclis doesn't tell you how to mimick cheeses, she carefully and precisely brings you into an understanding of each cheese type and what makes it what it is so that you can create your very own creations. All the details are covered, so many questions answered, so many potential problems unmasked. Coupled with her new book **Mastering Basic Cheesemaking**, the new cheesemaker or new again to cheesemaker is all set for success!
  • Eric and Jessicia Childs (2013). Kombucha: The Amazing Probiotic Tea that Cleanses, Heals, Energizes, and Detoxifies. The Penguin Group. ISBN: 9781583335314. This book is a good book to kick off your kombucha journey if you are looking for plenty of specifics. Mostly straightforward but occassionally a bit goofy and casual. More than adequate guidance to make your journey with kombucha a happy and healthy one.
  • Klaus Kaufmann (2013). Kombucha Rediscovered. Books Publishing Company. ISBN: 9780920470848. This book is a nice little one to add only if you seek just more, more information. It's interesting to read varying views and advice regarding kombucha.
  • Guther W. Frank (1995). Kombucha: Healthy beverage and natural remedy from the Far East, Its correct preparation and use. Ennsthaler. ISBN: 3850683370. Looking for specific references regarding the health benefits of kombucha. This book isn't a bunch of kombucha recipes and tips but a more detailed look at its history, science, and papers written about kombucha. Many of the references are vintage but it is very helpful if you want to know more than the basics about kombucha.
  • Ken Forkish (2012). Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza. 10 Speed Press. ISBN: 97816077742739. Ready to toss those packets and jars of monoculture yeast? With Ken's precision and reliance on wild yeast you could produce some breads with a wonderful crust and crumb and rich flavor for a happy belly.
  • Sandor Ellix Katz (2003). Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods. Chelsea Green. ISBN: 1931498237. This is the go-to book for getting started in the world of fermentation. Welcome all those amazing microbes into your house, food, and gut! I appreciate Sandor's mix of cultural reverence (both of the peoples and ferments), experimentation approach, style of exploration, recipes that are solid starting point, and reclamation practical and traditional food preservation techniques. If you are new to fermentation, jump right in with Sandor!
  • Sandor Ellix Katz (2012). The Art of Fermentation. Chelsea Green. ISBN: 9781603582865. Okay, so we were all stoked! Feverishly fermenting and experimenting and so was Sandor. Blown away by the possibilities? Sandor delves deeper this time. He takes you to the next level by increasing understanding, putting fermentation in the context of putting more real food in our mouths, and clarity regarding connection to our food and our food systems. And if that doesn't convince you, this one also won a James Beard Award!
  • Bill Mollison (2011). The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition. Tagari Publications. ISBN: 9780908228065. A cult classic that was reprinted in 2011--get your copy while you still can! At nearly $60 it isn't cheap and it's a hard one to get your hands on without purchasing it! Well worth the buy if you are serious about fermenting. Essential to the homestead seeking alternatives to preservation strategies that require energy to keep frozen or refrigerated and so forth.

+ Fruit Trees

  • Rosalind Creasy (2010). Edible Landscaping. Sierra Club Books. ISBN: 9781578051540. Ready to get started in edible landscaping? Rosalind Creasy is the trailblazer in edible landscaping in this part of the world! The pictures alone should have you ripping out the lawn and replacing it with great edibles. Totally stoked for permaculture but are concerned about what the neighbors would think of a wild and crazy front garden? No worries, Rosalind will guide you through edible beauty. Also, check out the just published Practical Permaculture!
  • Michael Phillips (2011). The Holistic Orchard. Chelsea Green. ISBN: 9781933392134. Questioning all of that guidance you received from the nursery or grower about your fruit trees? Wonder if there is a better way to grow fruit? Wonder if you really, really need that poison the nursery person is trying to sell you? Michael Phillips covers everything from pruning, pest management, to soil care, and harvesting.
  • Ann Ralph (2014). Grow a Little Fruit Tree: Simple Pruning Techniques for Small-Space, Easy-Harvest Fruit Trees. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 9781612120546. My current favorite book on fruit trees: let's make the difficult fruit tree care decisions. Scared to make that decisive heading cut on a bareroot tree? It can be easy to direct someone else to make this knee high cut but it can be an extremely difficult cut to make! Ann will hold your hand and reveal that she too had a difficult time! It's okay! Wish to delve more deeply into the concept of keeping backyard trees at a manageable size? This book is the to guide fruit tree growers through the journey of going small.

+ Greywater and Rainwater

  • Laura Allen (2015). The Water-Wise Home: How to Conserve, Capture, and Reuse Water in Your Home and Landscape. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 9781612121697. Terrific illustrations, easy to digest content, and clear direction to support your journey to be a water-wiser home. No more guess work about which part or exactly how or how the bits fit together. There is no doubt that this book will become a classic for water conservers everywhere! If you can only buy one greywater book--this is the one!
  • Brad Lancaster (2014). Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond: Volume 1, Second Edition, Guiding Principles to Welcome Water into Your Life and Landscape. Rainsource Press. ISBN: 9780977246434. Looking for gory details? Some may find this books a bit overwhelming. But, the case studies, charts, details, and drawings are crititcal to setting up systems beyond a simple laundry to landscape or using a 5-gallon bucket under a bathroom basin.
  • Brad Lancaster (2013). Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond: Volume 2 Water-Harvesting Earthworks. Rainsource Press. ISBN: 7980977246410. This is the overlooked big brother to Lancaster's epic first book. Again, it's the case studies, drawings, and explanations that could save you from yourself. Sometimes it seems like a good idea but alas it's a really bad idea. Working in drylands presents challenges that Lancaster has not only executed but written down as a guide for the rest of us not to screw things up.
  • Art Ludwig (2012) Create an Oasis with Greywater: Choosing, Building, and Using Greywater Systems. Oasis Design. ISBN: 0964343398. An essential classic book on greywater! Ready to push the go button on a laundry-to-landscape? Let this book guide you through the details. Don't forget to check out Ludwig's website as it is another resource. Ludwig shares the ideas that are bad ideas and why--it might seem reasonable to apply some clear water principles to greywater systems--but it's not and Ludwig tells you why.
  • Art Ludwig (2013). Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds. Oasis Design. ISBN: 9780964343368. This is the book that we are using to design and build our ferrocement tank.

+ Homesteading Skills and DIY Projects

  • Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen (2010). Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post Consumer World. Rodale Inc. ISBN: 9781605294629. Very practical (and easy for the most part) projects to kick those store with products to the curb. This is a good one to check out from the library.
  • Carla Emery (2012). The Encyclopedia of Country Living: The Original Manual for Lving Off the Land and Doing It Yourself. Sasquatch Books. ISBN: 9781570618406. This book is inexpensive and offers so much on the ground experience-based stuff that it's hard not to include it. What did folks do before the internet!? Yes, we exchanged letters, we learned word of mouth, we learned trial by fire and error. This book is also a tome that offers additional resources that might be difficult to locate otherwise. Time or money, folks. Time or money. This book can save you quite a bit of time looking for decent information or a resource.
  • Storey Books (2004). Country Wisdom & Know-How: Everything You Need to Live Off the Land. ISBN: 9781579123680. Oversized cross between The Whole Earth Catalog and The Foxfire Books--and in some ways falls short on both. Lots of okay information in one place--it can be short on details but it can get you going in the right direction. If you are wondering if you could grab this one or Carla's book--grab Carla's first.
  • Wendy Jenahnara Treymayne (2013). The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 9781612121017. More skills more, more inspiration. If you want to become very proficient with a new skill, you will need more than this book. But, if you are hesistant to get out there and learn something new, here is evidence that 'just regular folk' can learn new things to be more resilent, save money, and not rely on others for fixing, hacking, or making.

+ Permaculture

  • Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein (2015). Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth. Timber Press, Inc. ISBN: 9781604694437. Okay folks, here's the deal with this book. So, you've decided that you don't need another permaculture book or that Gaia's Garden hit all the marks while not being as intimidating as Mollison's epic tome Permaculture: A Designer's Manual...but this book is different and it is truly practical while being slam-bang beautiful. Or maybe you are new to permaculture and are wondering which book(s) to buy. Hint: borrow or check several books out and see what works for you! Practical Permaculture is about real things that you can do and move towards. The illustrations by Paul Kearsley are beautiful, clear, and most important pictorially descriptive and informative. Flip to nearly any page and an illustration will jump start your understanding all of the concepts presented from keyline plowing to permaculture zones to animal fencing systems. So, if the waiting list to borrow this from the library is a 33 patrons long...don't fret this one is a keeper.
  • Rosemary Marrow (2006). Earth User's Guide to Permaculture. Permanent Publications. ISBN: 9781856230513. For some reason this book is often overlooked. So many drawings along with concise strategies to do things a bit better. Check out videos with Rosemary Marrow and the thing that is so clear is that she is super practical...really evaluating what needs to be done with say an urban lot...what makes sense for the land, the people, the animals, the costs, the waste, the long term impacts, and so forth in a way that is super accessible.
  • Bill Mollison (1988). Permaculture: A Designer's Manual. Tagari Publications. ISBN: 9780908228010. This is the epic tome of permaculture. What do I think? Well, first start off with Introduction to Permaculture. Is Mollison's style for you? Is the content resonating for you? If so, collect your shekels up... all hundred and twenty of them and eagerly await its delivery. This book can be tackled piecemeal and is made much easier if you have the foundation of Introduction to Permaculture.
  • Bill Mollison (2011). Introduction to Permaculture. Tagari Publications. ISBN: 9780908228089. Honestly, my copy of this book is flagged, penciled, and loved. Why? Mollison gets you there in less than 200 pages...a mere 178 pages not counting the appendices! I consider this the essential permaculture foundation. Bear in mind two things from my perspective: 1) permaculture is not new and unique...as Mollison noted himself on page 9 of The Designer's Manual: "Permaculture as a design system contains nothing new. It arranges what was always there in a different way, so that it works to conserve energy or to generate more energy than it consumes." and 2) applies to the business of living on earth...which folks, is every damn aspect being on this planet.

+ Plant Reference Books

  • Stephen Facciola (1998). Cornucopia II. Kampong Publications. ISBN: 0962808725. It can be tough to get your hands on this book but it is well worth the effort! Getting into rare fruit or perennial vegetables? Wonder how that unusual variety will perform in your garden or taste? Overwhelmed with information from the internet? Stephen has carefully and meticulously cataloged edible plants and cross-referenced them with suppliers. Invaluable reference book albeit a new edition is long over due.
  • L.H. Bailey Hortorium, Cornell Universtiy (1976). Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada. Cornell University. This is another one that can be tough to locate but it is well worth the search. If you are lucky enough to score a copy, do share it with fellow gardeners! While there are many plant lists that collate information from both the Hortus Third and Cornucopia/Cornucopia II, I prefer to return to the unfiltered source texts.

+ Towards a Less Toxic Homestead

  • Annie Berthold-Bond (1999). Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living. Three Rivers Press. ISBN: 0609803255. You grow and/or buy organic foods and products and meanwhile there are chemicals lurking all around us--some with known risks and many with unknown risks. Cut some of the risks by learning how to make your homestead less toxic. Anne walks you through the garden, the house, and your personal care products offering homemade alternatives as well as rating things like building supplies. While we most likely will not eliminate all the chemicals in our lives and our bodies--how can we mitigate some of the risk? Risks with unknown effects on mortality and morbidity.
  • Anne Berthold-Bond (1990). Clean and Green: The Complete Guide to Nontoxic and Environmentally Safe Housekeeping. Ceres Press. ISBN: 1886101019. I've had two copies of this book. One that got lost during a move and my current copy. I've used dozens of recipes from this book and while there are newer books, I seem to always return to this simple little book. Some might see it as a hodge podge of cleaning recipes--but I like all the options. There is room to experiment and find what works for you in your situation. Anne's newer book Better Basic for the Home includes more than cleaners so that's super nice but it's this tattered copy I return to if I have a cleaning dilemna.
  • Debra Lynn Dadd (2011). Toxic Free: How to Protect Your Health and Home from the Chemicals that are Making you Sick. Tarcher. ISBN: 9781585428700. Debra is an incredible lay investigator of toxic chemicals and products. This most recent iteration of her book on living a cleaner life is just a terrific resource to keep on the bookshelf and her website is a great resource too. Step-by-step we can eliminate toxic chemicals from our lives.