I won a copy of Paul Waddington's 21st Century Smallholder in a selfsufficientish.com competition. I'm glad I did because it is a great book. One of the things I like best about it is that it isn't printed on glossy paper with loads of huge full-colour photos and very little useful text, like so many other books these days. Instead it provides a fairly detailed overview of a range of topics, from growing fruit and vegetables, to conserving water, to keeping livestock.
Subtitled "How To Go Back To The Land Without Leaving Home", the emphasis is on finding things that anyone can do with an average suburban semi or even urban apartment, such as growing herbs and salad leaves in a windowbox, or worm composting. Waddington is realistic about pointing out the disadvantages of these choices as well as the advantages, and avoids the guilt-trip so many "green" books place on the reader.
I didn't like the section on different fruit and vegetable crops, however. He rates the different varieties according to space, time, gourmet, season, hassle and beauty (each represented by a little icon), on a scale of dark yellow (excellent) to dark purple (not so good). I couldn't intuitively grasp that a pale yellow leaf meant "pretty good season", or even understand what "pretty good season" actually meant. And I have no idea why he rates kale (a rough-tasting cabbage substitute), for example, as "excellent gourmet" but aubergines (one of my favourite veg) as "not so good gourmet". It didn't make any sense to me.
But overall it was an interesting overview of a wide range of topics, with a detailed bibliography to enable you to find more in-depth information. Rather like John Seymour's The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency, it is wonderful for inspiration, perhaps less useful as a practical ", how to", and a valuable addition to my bookshelf.