The original Mother Earth News Almanac was published in the 1970s and, in addition to being a bestseller, it was one of those books that gardeners and homesteaders referred to again and again. It has been out of print for many years, however. Luckily, the folks over at Mother Earth News decided to update the original almanac and release it, and the result is the Mother Earth News Almanac: A Guide Through the Seasons.
First off, I have to say that any gardening book that is organized according to the seasons gains an automatic thumbs-up from me. It just seems the most logical, when gardening and homesteading are, by their very nature, activities that are dependent on trying to do the right things in the right seasons. So we’re already off to a good start.
This is not one of those books that gives you a list of vegetables and then tells you how to grow them — there are many of those books out there already, and I’ve written a couple of them. They’re very useful, and everyone who wants to grow their own food should have a book like that around. But that’s not what you’ll find in the Mother Earth News Almanac. It’s more of a lifestyle book, encompassing the “how-tos” of growing preserving, and cooking food, raising animals, living sustainably, and living well.
It’s the kind of book that gives you tips for actually LIVING. Wondering what it means when a recipe says to “scald the milk?” The Almanac tells you what that means and how to do it. Want to identify the insect pests in your garden and find a natural way to deal with them? Or are you interested in saving money, or foraging for wild foods, or raising goats? That’s what’s in this book: tips to help you live the homesteading lifestyle, no matter what that looks like. It can be in an apartment or on 100 acres; in the city or in the country. What it’s about is taking control of your life and how you choose to live it, and that can be by growing a garden, brewing your own beer, raising hogs, or simply making your own kneepads for working in the garden.
This book is not flashy. The artwork is simple, with a homespun feeling that just perfectly fits the contents of the book. I can see myself relaxing and flipping through the Almanac for years to come, maybe finding new project ideas depending on my mood and the season.
I should also mention the informative tables in the back of the Almanac. I am a lover of tables. They’re just so efficient and useful, and there are several of them in this book. Here are just a few of them:
- Measurement conversions
- Gestation table for common livestock
- Scientific names for household chemicals
- Garden pests and how to control them
- Birdhouse sizes for different bird species
- Food storage help
- Botanical names for common fruits and vegetables
- Planting charts to help plan your garden
If you’re interested in living a more sustainable, natural lifestyle, and you are a DIYer at heart, you’ll love this book. If you like the idea of having a project to work on, or finding a better way to accomplish an everyday task, this is for you. If you just want to know how to grow plants or design a garden, there are books out there that will better suit your needs. But if, like me, you’re always ready for a new project, you’ll love flipping through the Mother Earth News Almanac and finding even more ways to live your life more sustainably, mindfully, and frugally.