For me, summer is not the time of leisurely reading in a comfy chair. It’s mostly a season of referencing my favorite resources, books about gardening, canning, fermenting, dehydrating and more. My summer bookshelf isn’t so much a shelf as reference books strewn all over every flat surface in the house. It isn’t so much summer reading as it is summer resource reading, summer ‘I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now,’ heading straight to the indexes of various books for help skimming. I don’t imagine I’m alone in that, actually, and while the Internet can be a great place to find information and resources, I turn most often to some favorite books first.
These are the books I use most often on our little homestead:
- The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery – From how far apart to thin the Rutabagas to how to save seeds, to how to render lard, to how to butcher animals. It’s all in there in plain, simple language. I can’t speak highly enough about this amazing resource. As you can see, the book accompanies me out to the garden many a day.
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry – If you do a lot of canning, this book has all the basics – times for doing fruits and vegetables as well as a great troubleshooting section. Beyond those wonderful basics, it has a great collection of recipes to which I’m constantly turning for new ideas.
- Preserving Summer’s Bounty by the Rodale Food Center – This has canning information, great charts with times, etc. However, it also contains lots of information on freezing and dehydrating. Some things freeze better with a little blanching first and this book helps me remember which need that and more. It also has great recipes to help you use up the things you’ve put up.
- Beekeeping for Dummies by Howland Blackiston – Because we’re still so very new to beekeeping and our local beekeeping group highly recommends this book. We do refer to it often and find it super helpful.
- Backyard Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal – This book has chapters on many common backyard ‘weeds,’ dandelion, plantain, red clover, fire weed, and more. Each chapter explains history, has great photos and descriptions, and goes in depth in how those plants make great medicine and what ailments to treat with those plants. It explains different methods of medicine making (tinctures, salves, teas, etc.) and which is best for each plant. I refer to it often as I build our medicine chest for winter.
One other resource I use most often is my own journals. I keep track of recipes, harvests, what I did when faced with certain problems, etc. I keep several journals at any one time – one is specific for the garden, another for recipes, another for craft / herbal projects, and more. Undoubtedly, I could keep it all in one but keeping it separate always made sense for how my brain works. I mostly use plain old-fashioned composition books for these journals, nothing too fancy. However, the really special projects get recorded in my Things to Make & Do Journal by Nikki McClure. It’s a work of art in and of itself and for some reason designated to hold ‘the really important things’ or the things I deem important or special at that particular moment.
What books do you reference most often? I’m always on the lookout for new books.[sc:Adsense ]