Many people love the idea of a simple life. Get back to a less stressful, more organic lifestyle. Knowing where your food comes from, build things for yourself, or grow plants, raise animals and do it all yourself. This can be very hard or impossible when you live in suburbia or in a small town where you are limited to what you can or can’t do by having neighbors in an apartment or no yard at all.
For some, the best ideas use small container gardening or vertical gardening.
A new book at the Seaside Public Library right now, called “40 Projects For Building Your Backyard Homestead,” by David Toht, actually has some great vertical planter project ideas that will fit any size patio, balcony, or yard. It also goes deep into how to add your own wind and solar power if you really want to go off the grid. Maybe you just want to renovate an existing space.
A fun book on that is “She Sheds: a Room of Your Own,” by Erika Kotite. My favorite is the small shed that has a “green roof” a roof with plants in a shallow layer of soil right on the roof that need little care and help the space stay cooler, while reducing storm water runoff. This isn’t really a garden, think of it more as a living carpet for your roof. It does need to be maintained and can be professionally installed as well. The Multnomah County Library Central Library Portland actually has a green roof or “eco-roof.”
If organic gardening is where you are at, “101 Organic Gardening Hacks” by Shawna Coronado, has some quick and simple ideas about composting. You can use cardboard in your compost to help add structure to compost while up-cycling or is it down cycling to help the planet.
You can also help the little critters in your garden including hummingbirds. I tried buying nectar for my hummingbird feeder but the hummingbirds were smarter than me and they didn’t drink it because it was expired. I didn’t know the pre-made mixes have a fairly short shelf life. I’m using the recipe in this book from now on, just simple sugar and water. Another idea I love in this book is bee preservers. Like a little life preserver, floating glass balls with bumps floating in a birdbath will help your bees get the water they need without drowning.
Once you’ve grown your fabulous garden and have an amazing mini-orchard, it’s time to use all of that luscious produce. “Jam Session by Joyce Goldstein shows you how to make amazing preserves and jams with your fruit. Even more yummy is the book “Pie Squared by Cathy Barrow which shows the reader how to make both sweet and savory square pies. All of the ideas can be used with regular pie plates and the pictures alone will leave you craving pie, pie, and more pie. Or maybe a quiche or two as well.
We also have books for people who are living the dream on one or a few acres in the country and want to capitalize on what they have. Tiny farms, mini farms, we have lots of great books on how to get started and maximize your space. “The Small Scale Dairy,” by Gianaclis Caldwell, “The Backyard Homestead,” by Gail Damerow, “The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens,” by Kathy Shea Mormino, and “My Tiny Home Farm,” by Francine Raymond. This one was my personal favorite since I don’t have acreage but can use some of the ideas in this book in my urban, center of town, home setting. It’s a good reminder to check out our local community gardens at the railroad park, we have some fantastic gardens there. This book also has some ideas like making your own fruit leather or plant potatoes in a bucket. You really can garden on a miniature scale as long as you have light and water!
For those who hunt, we also have “The Wild Game Smoker and Grill Cookbook.” Recipes and instructions for grilling or smoking all kinds of wild game. For the artisanal person, we also have “Home Cheese Making” recipes for 100 favorite cheeses.
If all else fails and none of these ideas work for you, there is always the fall back book “Handmade Houseplants”. To quote the cover of the book, “remarkable realistic plants you can make with paper.” Nothing to tend, nothing to grow, just create and enjoy.
All of these books are currently available in the new book section of the Seaside Public Library.