Chelsea Green Publishing

Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening

Pages:400 pages
Book Art:Color photos and illustrations throughout
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603584425
Pub. Date June 10, 2015

Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening

Innovative Techniques for Growing Vegetables, Grains, and Perennial Food Crops with Minimal Fossil Fuel and Animal Inputs

Availability: In Stock

Paperback

Available Date:
June 10, 2015

$34.95

"Society does not generally expect its farmers to be visionaries." Perhaps not, but longtime Maine farmer and homesteader Will Bonsall does possess a unique clarity of vision that extends all the way from the finer points of soil fertility and seed saving to exploring how we can transform civilization and make our world a better, more resilient place.

In Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening, Bonsall maintains that to achieve real wealth we first need to understand the economy of the land, to realize that things that might make sense economically don't always make sense ecologically, and vice versa. The marketplace distorts our values, and our modern dependence on petroleum in particular presents a serious barrier to creating a truly sustainable agriculture.

For him the solution is, first and foremost, greater self-reliance, especially in the areas of food and energy. By avoiding any off-farm inputs (fertilizers, minerals, and animal manures), Bonsall has learned how to practice a purely veganic, or plant-based, agriculture—not from a strictly moralistic or philosophical perspective, but because it makes good business sense: spend less instead of making more.

What this means in practical terms is that Bonsall draws upon the fertility of on-farm plant materials: compost, green manures, perennial grasses, and forest products like leaves and ramial wood chips. And he grows and harvests a diversity of crops from both cultivated and perennial plants: vegetables, grains, pulses, oilseeds, fruits and nuts—even uncommon but useful permaculture plants like groundnut (Apios).

In a friendly, almost conversational way, Bonsall imparts a wealth of knowledge drawn from his more than forty years of farming experience.

"My goal," he writes, "is not to feed the world, but to feed myself and let others feed themselves. If we all did that, it might be a good beginning."

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

Publishers Weekly-

"Homesteader, organic farmer, and visionary Bonsall offers a thorough, albeit apocalyptic, farming guide to surviving the current times and, if need be, the end times. The title is misleading; the book is not so much a gardening guide as a set of survival instructions, and not for the casual gardener. Drawing on 40 years of personal experience growing his own food, Bonsall emphasizes three principles: economic exigency that requires making do; planning to survive a future catastrophe; and transforming civilization. To this end, the book focuses on staple foods, including grains, dried legumes, and oilseeds, as well as the usual greens and root crops, while discussing such fundamentals as assessing soil fertility, composting, using manure (including human), mulching, grafting, pollinating, seed saving, milling, malting, freezing and fermenting. The book will not suit everyone, but those who share Bonsall’s vision will be well served and firmly grounded. Over 200 full-color photos.” 

“Every gardener and small farmer can benefit from Will Bonsall's decades of focused, quality experience. Will's book is one of the key practical resources you should read—as you reach for full sustainable soil fertility in your garden or farm!”--John Jeavons, author, executive director of Ecology Action, and developer of sustainable biointensive mini-farming

"Will Bonsall’s homestead is a 'thinking farm,' not one engaged in armchair musings about agriculture, but where difficult questions are addressed by intense experimentation. This book pairs the incredible depth of Bonsall’s gardening knowledge with his infectious enthusiasm. It is both a magnificent reference and an inspiring call to action. Every practical lesson throughout is guided by the vision that our humble gardens can affect the world."--Steve Conaway, Conservation and Outreach Director at Greenwich (CT) Land Trust

“Every gardener and small farmer can benefit from Will Bonsall's decades of focused, quality experience. Will's book is one of the key practical resources you should read—as you reach for full sustainable soil fertility in your garden or farm!”--John Jeavons, author and developer of sustainable biologically intensive food-growing

“Here is a bright star in the constellation of voices for land-based sustainability. Not only is Will Bonsall incredibly learned – the result of decades of careful studies in the field and out – he is bawdy and brave and bold. His credibility is a Ph.D. in homesteading and his rambunctious wisdom is very worth reading. If you want to learn from a master, you need this book.”--Janisse Ray, author of The Seed Underground

"The risk of describing Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening as a gardening book is that the aspiring reader may miss the reality that it is really a book on life, centered as a good life should be, around a garden.

Will is a patient teacher with encyclopedic knowledge. His writing style is warm and authentic, accentuated by his dry New England humor. To read this book is akin to having Will stop by and visit by the glowing kitchen cookstove. He shares a lifetime of observations and conclusions – both useful and essential – and a deep respect for those who have come before us."--Jim Gerritsen, certified organic seed potato grower and owner of Wood Prairie Farm

"Will Bonsall—Mr. Scatterseed himself—has done it all, and this book covers it all, from maintaining soil fertility with minimal external inputs to growing annual and perennial vegetables, fruit, nuts, grain, beans, and even oilseed crops. Will’s methods are all vegan based and garden scale, with little resort to tools beyond hand tools and a rototiller and shredder. His description of making oil-seed seed meals and cooking with them is particularly interesting.

Will’s book is a great introduction to gardening for the beginner, and it also offers enough brand new original material to delight even the most expert. Best of all, the interweaving of Will’s coherent personal philosophy, decades of gardening experience, down-to-earth style, and touches of humor all make for an interesting, entertaining read."--Carol Deppe, author of The Tao of Vegetable Gardening  and The Resilient Gardener

"Eco-efficiency is the key new word and gardens-without-borders is the key new concept with which Will Bonsall illuminates 'this experiment we call civilization.' His view is wide and deep. You can accept his warm, witty invitation to explore the big questions. Or/and you can, with grace and ease, pluck out practical, hands-on directions as needed for all aspects of cyclical food production and use. I will read it again and again for reference, guidance, inspiration, and delight."--Eva Sommaripa, pioneering organic farmer at Eva's Garden in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and the hero of Wild Flavors by Didi Emmons

"If you wish to live well and eat well no matter what is going on in the rest of the world, this book is for you. Thresh your own grain and press your own oil. Can't buy seeds, no problem. Can't buy fertilizer, no problem. Will Bonsall will help you enjoy the good life under any and all conditions."--Eliot Coleman, author of The New Organic Grower and The Winter Harvest Handbook

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Bonsall

Will Bonsall has worn many hats since going "back to the land," including prospector, draftsman, gravedigger, hobo, musician, logger, and artist, among others; however, he considers subsistence farming to be the only true career he ever had. He is the director of the Scatterseed Project, which he founded to help preserve our endangered crop-plant diversity. His first book, Through the Eyes of a Stranger (Xlibris, 2010), is an eco-novel set in a sustainable society of the future. Will lives and farms in Industry, Maine, with his wife, Molly Thorkildsen, and two sons.

AUTHOR VIDEOS

Seed to Seed

A look at the Scatterseed Project. Featuring Will Bonsall, author of Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening.

Will Bonsall - Seeds

Will Bonsall - Seeds

Repowering America

Repowering America

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Slow Gardening

Slow Gardening

By Felder Rushing

Thanks to the resurgence of home and community gardening, more and more people are discovering the pleasure of biting into a sun-ripened tomato picked right off the vine, the earthy smell of freshly turned soil, and the cheerful harbingers of spring such as daffodils, irises, and pansies. But they are also discovering that gardening can be a heck of a lot of work. So what happens when keeping up with the weeds turns into a full-time job? What do you do when gardening becomes stressful?

Slow Gardening to the rescue! Inspired by Slow Food, an international movement that promotes local food systems and biological and cultural diversity, the slow-gardening approach can help us all appreciate and enjoy our gardens more, year in and year out.Felder Rushing, a well-known and truly one-of-a-kind garden expert, offers this practical yet philosophical approach to gardening - one that will help you slow down, take stock of your yard, and follow your own creative whimsy in the garden.

Slow Gardening will inspire you to slip into the rhythm of the seasons, take it easy, and get more enjoyment out of your garden, all at the same time.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Slow Gardening

Felder Rushing, Roger B. Swain

Paperback $29.95

Edible Perennial Gardening

Edible Perennial Gardening

By Anni Kelsey

Do you dream of a low-maintenance perennial garden that is full to the brim of perennial vegetables that you don’t have to keep replanting, but have only a small space? Do you want a garden that doesn’t take much of your time and that needs little attention to control the pests and diseases that eat your crops? Do you want to grow unusual vegetable varieties? You can have all of this with Edible Perennial Gardening.

Anni Kelsey has meticulously researched the little-known subject of edible perennials and selected her favorite, tasty varieties. She explains how to source and propagate different vegetables, which plants work well together in polycultures, and what you can plant in small, shady, or semi shady beds, as well as in sunny areas. It includes:

 • Getting started and basic principles

• Permaculture, forest gardening, and natural farming

• Growing in polycultures

• How to chose suitable leafy greens, alliums, roots, tubers, and herbs

• Site selection and preparation

• Building fertility

• Low-maintenance management strategies

If you long for a forest garden but simply don’t have the space for tree crops, or want to grow a low-maintenance edible polyculture, this book will explain everything you need to know to get started on a new gardening adventure that will provide you with beauty and food for your household and save you money.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Edible Perennial Gardening

Anni Kelsey, Eric Toensmeier

Paperback $22.95

Perennial Vegetables

Perennial Vegetables

By Eric Toensmeier

There is a fantastic array of vegetables you can grow in your garden, and not all of them are annuals. In Perennial Vegetables the adventurous gardener will find information, tips, and sound advice on less common edibles that will make any garden a perpetual, low-maintenance source of food.

Imagine growing vegetables that require just about the same amount of care as the flowers in your perennial beds and borders—no annual tilling and potting and planting. They thrive and produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season. It sounds too good to be true, but in Perennial Vegetables author and plant specialist Eric Toensmeier (Edible Forest Gardens) introduces gardeners to a world of little-known and wholly underappreciated plants. Ranging beyond the usual suspects (asparagus, rhubarb, and artichoke) to include such "minor" crops as ground cherry and ramps (both of which have found their way onto exclusive restaurant menus) and the much sought after, anti-oxidant-rich wolfberry (also known as goji berries), Toensmeier explains how to raise, tend, harvest, and cook with plants that yield great crops and satisfaction.

Perennial vegetables are perfect as part of an edible landscape plan or permaculture garden. Profiling more than 100 species, illustrated with dozens of color photographs and illustrations, and filled with valuable growing tips, recipes, and resources, Perennial Vegetables is a groundbreaking and ground-healing book that will open the eyes of gardeners everywhere to the exciting world of edible perennials.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Perennial Vegetables

Eric Toensmeier

Paperback $35.00

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven

By Joel Salatin

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven is written by an honest-to-goodness-dirt-under-the-fingernails, optimistic clean good farmer. His goal is to:

  • Empower food buyers to pursue positive alternatives to the industrialized food system
  • Bring clean food farmers and their patrons into a teamwork relationship
  • Marry the best of western technology with the soul of eastern ethics
  • Educate food buyers about productions
  • Create a food system that enhances nature's ecology for future generations

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven has an overriding objective of encouraging every food buyer to embrace the notion that menus are a conscious decision, creating the next generation's world one bite at a time.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven

Joel Salatin, Michael Pollan

Paperback $17.95