This is an excellent book. We’ve read a number of similar books, and this is our favorite.
The Backyard Homestead has great overviews on gardening, raising animals, landscaping with plants, maintaining fruit trees, keeping bees, homebrewing, cheese making, and more. While each of these topics is broad enough that you should have other guides or references if you want to undertake them, this book helps show how each of these areas fit into a backyard setup.
Right at the front of the book, diagrams are provided with recommendations for how much space should be devoted to each food production method (garden, animals, fruit and nut trees, etc) to get the most out of your space. It has diagrams for 1⁄10 acre, 1⁄4 acre, and 1⁄2 acre.
The section on landscaping with edibles was one of our favorite parts of the book. A long chart lists many food producing plants that can be used, and provides information about their growing habits, what landscape features they should be used for, how much food they produce, and what their best aesthetic features are. We are hoping over the next few years to replace all of the landscaping plants around the house with productive plants (save a couple flower beds), so this reference is very valuable.
We also really appreciated the section about pruning and maintaining fruit trees, which was more detailed and complete than we’ve found in any other books of this nature.
In addition to showing how to produce food, The Backyard Homestead also gives ideas for what to do with it, including recipes and information about processing, storage and preservation methods.
Again, some of the topics covered in this book are just overviews, and may not present enough information for you to get started right away. The overview format works well though, and provides enough information to inspire the creative process of designing your backyard homestead.