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4 Great New Homesteading Books from Chelsea Green

I've slowed down my purchases of homesteading books in recent years, but when I spotted these new titles in the Chelsea Green newsletter, I had to take a closer look. I've wanted to learn more about permaculture and mushrooms for a while now, and weeds have been a favorite of mine for years. I decided to splurge and invest in all four titles. 

Great new homesteading and permaculture books from Chelsea Green.

The day after I sent in my order, up pops an email in my inbox with an invitation to get a copy of the weed book to review. Since I had already purchased all four books, I asked if Chelsea Green would be willing to sponsor a giveaway for my readers. They said yes. So, without further ado, here's a review of these new and interesting homesteading books that you'll have a chance to win for your home library. Note:  The giveaway wrapped up in December 2014. Congratulations to our winner!

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds Books

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds:  13 Essential Plants for Human Survival

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds by Katrina Blair was the first book to catch my attention. Long time readers know that I have a fondness for weeds, as evidenced by the many posts in the Weekly Weeder series

Katrina's book features dandelion, mallow, purslane, plantain, thistle, amaranth, dock, mustard, grass, chickweed, clover, lambsquarter, and knotweed, with passing mentions of other weeds and related species. Do a quick search of the USDA noxious weed list, and you're likely to find most, if not all, of these plants listed in one area or another. 

The thing is, while we're waging war on these plants, all the plants are trying to do is heal the soil.  They all thrive in disturbed areas, and all are edible and medicinal. Instead of fighting them, why not put them to good use?  As Mark Shephard says in Restoration Agriculture“, we need to “stop trying to grow things that don’t want to grow and killing things that do want to grow”.

I can hardly wait until springtime to start experimenting with more of the recipes, as Katrina has introduced me to many different ways to prepare these weeds that I didn't know. One of the best things about weeds is that they are ready to harvest in the spring garden when little else is. You can even gather seed heads in winter and use them to grow sprouts and wild microgreens. I love free food! Recipes are vegan and many are raw, but there's a wide variety of preparation approaches to appeal to any healthy eater. A great homestead library addition for those interested in foraging, herbalism and making your own personal care products.

Farming the Woods Permaculture Book

Farming the Woods:  An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests

Farming the Woods by Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel grabbed my attention because both my brother and I are looking for ways to optimize our land usage here in Wisconsin. Timber harvesting is great, but I can't eat wood. (Well, technically I can, because they put cellulose in shredded cheese packages to keep it from clumping, but I'd prefer not to eat it.)  My brother has established wooded areas up north, and we're creating wooded areas here, so this type of educational material is key for creating a rich, productive polyculture. Near my area of northeast Wisconsin, we've been having some serious groundwater issues in conjunction with manure spreading because of thin top soil. I would love to see more permanent plantings that would produce a viable income for landowners.

Farming the Woods covers in detail how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value non-timber forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamentals, and more. Along with profiles of forest farmers from around the country, readers are also provided comprehensive information on:

  • historical perspectives of forest farming
  • mimicking the forest in a changing climate
  • cultivation of medicinal crops
  • cultivation of food crops
  • creating a forest nursery
  • harvesting and utilizing wood products
  • the role of animals in the forest farm
  • how to design your forest farm and manage it once it’s established

 If you have or want to create woodlands that produce regular income, this book would be a wonderful tool for your homesteading journey.

Integrated Forest Gardening Permaculture Book

Integrated Forest Gardening:  The Complete Guide to Polycultures and Plant Guilds in Permaculture Systems

Integrated Forest Gardening by Wayne Weiseman, Daniel Halsey and Bryce Ruddock provides 15 different detailed plant guild options that make it possible for the beginning permaculture enthusiast to create a sustainable polyculture without the worry of wondering if the plants you selected will have a functional symbiotic relationship. At the risk of over-simplifying, these plant guild planting charts act like permaculture “paint by numbers”.  Even if you have little gardening experience, you should be able to implement a variation of these designs. 

Permaculture is not just a matter of sticking perennials of different heights in the dirt and watching them grow. You need to make sure you have the right mix of plants (and animals and fungi and the rest of the species) that support each other and are right for the soil and location. The authors break down the elements you need to identify or create as your framework for developing a sustainable system, the roles of plants in the guilds, how to select the right plants, implementation of your project and long term maintenance.

The 15 Permaculture Plant Guilds Outlined in the text are:

  1. Fruit and Nut Guild
  2. Pawpaw Delight Guild (I've wanted to grow pawpaws for years)
  3. Four Vines Guild
  4. Annual-Perennial Guild
  5. Poisonous Plant Guild
  6. Asian Pear Polyculture Guild
  7. Ginseng/Sugar Maple Guild
  8. Boreal Forest Berry Guild
  9. Salsa Garden Guild (yes, backyard gardeners, this one's for you)
  10. Dwarf Cherry Tree Polyculture Guild
  11. Cider Guild
  12. Pawpaw Patch guild
  13. Persimmon Wood Guild
  14. Wild Rice Pond Guild
  15. Hedge Wall Guild

I love that the authors are from Wisconsin and Minnesota, so they understand the need for crops that thrive despite months of snow and ice each winter. They also include silviculture options, which integrate livestock into the permaculture system. Whether you're working with acreage or tucking plantings into a corner of the yard, the detailed plant and planting information in this guide offers something for nearly every homesteader.

Organic Mushroom Farming Book

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation:  Simple to Advanced and Experimental Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation by Tradd Cotter is filled with gorgeous photos and illustrations, offering so much more than the plastic wrapped boxes of bland button mushrooms in the grocery store. From the basics of mushroom cultivation to cutting edge growing techniques and mushroom uses, this book kept me turning pages and “ooing and ahhing” over the possibilities. 

Over 20 different species of cultivated mushrooms are described in detail, with descriptions of the fungi, spawning and fruiting conditions, capturing wild varieties for cultivation, harvesting, nutritional, medicinal and mycoremediation uses, where appropriate. Tradd's years of experience shine through with instructions that are detailed enough for beginners and experts alike. I know this beautiful book would be much appreciated by a number of my mushroom loving friends.

Organic Mushroom Growing Book
Just one of the many striking photos from Organic Mushroom Farming
Great new homesteading and permaculture books from Chelsea Green.

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    1. Hi-cant fig out @ this time how clomment & b added to ‘raffle’. My 1st choice is 1st of the 4 books listed, & pref in order listed. 1st choice bec I have an affinity 4 plants & such, esp re simple, natural “items” 4 health. And, being in the big City, too ill to go to better climes 4 me… Meanwhile, I can study, fill myself w/ gentle, beautiful perspective, & pass on info where minds r ‘open’. Thx.

  1. This is so exciting I Would like to read Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation: Simple to Advanced and Experimental Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation first but all of them sound Amazing!! We have wild turkey tails and oyster mushrooms and it looks like portobello mushrooms but I dont know how to tell if they are safe! My son had a teacher show him how to harvest Chanterelle’s and leave spores for next year but we have all kinds of other mushrooms here. Thank you for the opportunity! Caryl

  2. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds looks awesome! I love cultivating ‘weeds’ in my garden outside my small business and teaching my clients little bits at a time about them. It would be great to learn more.

  3. I am so excited about the permaculture books. We live in the high desert in eastern Oregon so we have a combination of sand, weather extremes and drought which makes homesteading a daunting task so we’re trying to use permaculture to “green” the desert.

  4. The Integrated Forest Gardening: The Complete Guide to Polycultures and Plant Guilds in Permaculture Systems looks amazing. The land at my house is in desperate need, years and years of abuse and neglect before me!

  5. Farming the Woods looks like my first pick to settle down with. The woods around me hold tons of plants that I know I can use, but need to learn them. I’m sure this is the key to unlock their mystery.

  6. What a wonderful offer, thank you for this opportunity. I’ve raised poultry and some veggies on my little farm, but not mushrooms, they book would be most useful. I snatch and eat dandelion leaves as I make my way to the hen house, but I don’t have much knowledge on other wild edibles…..again, the book. Would be so helpful.

    I enjoy your newsletter, makes it all sound more doable for me.

  7. I would read the Weed book first. I have been becoming more and familiar with these plants and their uses for our family and my flock. I love the fact that it doesn’t cover 463 different weeds.

  8. I would like to read the Weeds book first, because I’ve come to know several of the weeds that are common around hear have lots of uses, but I’m just learning. The Plant Guild book sounds interesting, and something that could be useful for garden planting.

  9. I would love to read The Wild Wisdom of Weeds because I have quite a few of these “weeds” on my property and would love to know how to use them!

  10. I am thinking I would love to win the organic mushroom farming book, we recently have begun to eat more wild mushrooms from our CSA and I would love to be able to farm my own

  11. I am most interested in Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation: Simple to Advanced and Experimental Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation, but I would love the chance to read through all of them. Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. The Integrated Forest would be the most useful for a newbie like me. I love the idea of permaculture and would find the weed book very useful, too.

  13. I would love to read The Wild Wisdom because I believe there is so much knowledge to gain from understanding how important “weeds” are and the benefits they offer for all species.

  14. All of them look awesome and I know that all 4 of them would be so useful but the 2 I’m most interested in are the Wild Wisdom of Weeds and Organic Mushroom Farming both of which are big interest to me and areas that I want to learn more about.
    Thanks to everyone for the wonderful giveaway!

  15. All 4 books look relevant to our goals for our 15 acres in NC. The 2 on permaculture would be our starting point though.

  16. I would love to read The Wild Wisdom of Weeds. I have been reading and learning about herbs and how they can help us survive in all types of scenarios but usually the more commonly used garden herbs. I would love to learn more about wild crafting the many wild plants that can help us as well.
    my FB blog page is herbal-helpers if anyone would like to check it out.

    Remember, do what you will but harm none.
    Shelagh Drew (drewgida)

  17. I am very interested in all four of them, but particularly “Wild Wisdom of Weeds”. Wild edibles and medicinals are a fascinating subject to me, I already know a little, but still have a lot to learn.

  18. This is awesome..perfect..i could go on & on!! We are right now in the process of turning our 1 & 1/2 acre yard into a “forest garden”! All of these books are intricate in the development of what we are establishing…but, if i had to pick just one, i do believe it would be “integrated forest garden”.
    We are raising are own chickens for both meat & eggs, turkey, rabbits and in the future bees..which are fundamental for all!! Thank you for this great opportunity to enrich our ever need for more knowledge in these life endeavors!! Sincerely- Danielle

  19. They all look good, but my favorite topics are Permaculture and Mushrooms! Would love to win those books!

  20. These are all awesome! Would love to have any one of them, never mind all of them! Thank you so much for the chance!

  21. I can see everyone of these being not only a good read but having some real application. I am always on the look out for local remedies and possibilities. WaynO

  22. They all look great but I think I would like Farming the Woods the most–we need some ideas for all the woods we have.

  23. I’m interested in all of them but would love to read the title: Farming The Woods as soon as possible. My partner, my son and I will be moving to our dream come true in the spring. 13 acres of dark Oregon forest that we’ll be homesteading. I plan to plant and harvest naturally through out the heavily wooded property. I can’t wait, and am reading all i can now in preparation. Thank you for your site. I’ve found it very helpful.

  24. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds. There are a lot of Weeds around my home that I would like more knowledge of. This book helps to fill that need.

  25. OMG….this is a hard one to pick between these great titles! I want to learn Intergrated Forest Managment, as well as growing different varieties of mushrooms, all of which would make us more self-sufficient. But the title “The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival” grabbed my attentiion the most, as this is beyond self-sufficient, but survival! Thank you!

  26. I’m interested in all four of them, but particularly “Permaculture” and “Organic Mushroom Farming”.
    The “Wild Wisdom of Weeds” sounds interesting as well. I’ve already started my venture into wild edibles and medicinals so I’m always looking for more references to read and expand my knowledge.

  27. Mushrooms! Always has been a “to do” lesson for me.
    And weeds! Often I get side ways glances when I praise their benefits and unsung attributes.

  28. I am dreaming of growing mushrooms- have been for a while but my husband really is fascinated with making use of wild edibles and medicinals. It’s hard to pick but I sure would love have it!

  29. I think I would benefit most from the Wild Wisdom of Weeds. All of the books sound awesome but I could apply the knowledge from that one immediately as I don’t currently live near any forest. 🙂

  30. Would love to read ‘The Wild Wisdom of Weeds’, but considering I live in mostly forest, the forest gardening book looks very interesting!

  31. I am so excited about chance to win these. I live in California but will be moving to Wisconsin permanently. Big changes and kinda scary at times, overwhelmed about how to start homesteading on top of that.
    My husband’s brother has cancer, and we are apart as he is currently in Wisconsin to help and reacquaint himself on all the differences in climate of where he lived as a child. We’ll be apart while my daughter finishes her senior year at high school. All the books sound awesome and would give me something important to learn while alone but the Integrated forest permaculture book would be the most beneficial, I think as I am concerned about how to garden in Wisconsin and setting up out homestead with 4 months of snow and cold weather around and in the forest land.

  32. Integrated Forest Gardening because I have been reading about the principles of this idea but I need the templates of which plants do well together.

  33. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is my pick because I beleive the previous indigenous tenants of all countries used them in many different ways. Ways that we, in our busy modern lives, are losing or have already lost. The Chinese have a 6000 year old culture of using weeds, as do so many other cultures, and many people today have no idea that they can eat the weeds in their gardens, or turn them into productive balanced healthy food for humans, animals or gardens. I want to learn more!

  34. Tough choice, since these are all good choices. I think the weeds book would be my first choice, because I could forage some of them almost anywhere.

  35. I would love to win the weed book as others have commented… I actually recognized a few mentioned and was actually going to purposely plant a few, but after that it is back to the drawing board to figure out how to use them. Winning this book in particular, would save many, many hours of work. Yeah.

  36. I have always been interested in what others call “Weeds”.How great to see a book out extolling using for Food!!
    Kudos to those who have brought it forward!!

  37. I would like the weed book as there really are so many weeds that are edible. I have 2 gardens that I take care of and have begged my sister who houses one of my gardens in her yards NOT to spray for weeds because they are good for wildlife and for us!

  38. Can’t wait to read The Wisdom of Wild Weeds! I’m passionate about healing plants and this sounds like another great book.

  39. I would lve to have the Wisdom of Weeds book. We always have plenty, their chock full of good things, and I know nothing about them:)

  40. For me, I would love to win the Wild Wisdom of Weeds because I live in a forager’s paradise! A lot of native plants are underappreciated, and I would like to learn more about their properties and traditional uses. I already have the books on Mushroom Farming & Integrated Forest Gardening, which I highly recommend! They would also make great gifts!

  41. I think the first book, about Weeds, would be the most immediately helpful for me! My husband has declared war on the weeds in our lawn and we are surrounded by farms and wooded areas … so there is always a new weed jumping into our yard and he has this desire to keep a golf course perfect yard. I would love to be able to show him more of what these weeds are worth and how they can help us to be healthier and actually improve our yard/garden.

  42. Oh gosh, how do I pick my favorite? They would all be well used in my library. I’ve always wanted to learn how to grow my own mushrooms, since wild mushrooms are only a spring delectable, but I
    truly want to learn how to live off the land, as well. Thank you for the opportunity to win these!

  43. All the books would be very useful to me ad I will be living off grid, off the land, eventually. However I think the one on Forest Farming would be extremely useful. Loved your reviews of all the books. They will definitely end up on my bookshelf one way or the other.

  44. I am so excited to learn as much as I can in order for me to live sustainably and self-sufficiently. I am a beginner and can use any and all the help I can and will get. The book that interest me is the Wild Weeds book. I am trying to spend more time in nature, and this book would be great company.

  45. I think I would really be interested in these books: The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, Farming the Woods, Integrated Forest .

  46. I’d love to have any of these books. I’ve spent the last 2 years primarily studying the sort of topics covered in these books, but I don’t have many hard copy books for my library. Would be thrilled to own these!

  47. I’d especially love the Tradd Cotter “Mycroremediation” book … have wanted it so bad, but it is too expensive for my budget. 🙁

  48. I think Integrated Forest Gardening would be the most helpful for me, although all of the books look excellent! I also live in Wisconsin and have some established woodland, so learning how to better utilize and improve it would be awesome!

  49. I have five wooded acres in North Florida and pawpaws grow wild here so Integrated Forest Gardening really caught my eye. Also, learning to live and grow in the decreased sunlight of the understory would certainly be beneficial to my gardening efforts. Thanks for the blog info!

  50. I took a class on Permaculture and I would love to learn more. Thanks for this website – I love it so much.

  51. I would love to read the Weeds book first as we don’t have land yet, and I think this would be a great place to start learning!

    1. Comments are monitored before they go live to eliminate spam postings. The spam filter catches most of them, but I still get weird stuff once in a while, like someone posting about a voodoo doctor, and others that are posting pointless comments simply so they can add a link back to their website.

  52. I’d like to get my hands on the farming in temperate forest book. The mushrooms book also looks very informative. I also like the idea of utilizing “weeds” for food I just don’t know where to start. Any one would be blessed to receive any of these books it seems, I just hope it is me.

  53. I think Integrated Forest Gardening would be my first to read choice! It looks like a good way of learning more about the subject for me and introducing my husband more to the concept.

  54. Farming in the Woods! We have a small wood lot and have been trying to get the most out of it, this book would be a great addition to our “sustainable library”. All these books are great and it’s good to see people taking interest in their food and the land around them.

  55. The two is the Weed Wisdom and the Mushroom one as I am looking more to how to survive without all the chemicals and because I love mushrooms

  56. The Wild Wisdom of Weeds sounds like it would be the first that I would want to read; however, they all sound great! Thanks for a chance to win!

  57. The book that would be the most useful for me would probably by the Integrated Forest Gardening. Having the knowledge to plant groups together would be great to know. However, I would enjoy reading them all!

  58. I want to read about the weeds first!! I’ve always been fascinated with the many uses for all the green stuff around us and want to learn more!

  59. so i’m not sure that my original comment went in. All of the books look like great reading , but if i had to pick just one, I think it would be the mushrooms. I’ve always wanted to know more about mushrooms and their health benefits. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this book

  60. We have un-utilized woods so I think either of them could enlighten me and my family how to “naturally” incorporate the sustainable use of our woods with the rest of our homestead. I believe all four books could add to the betterment of our goal of living sustainability in co-existence with the land and the living entities that call it home. Thank you for this opportunity, Laurie!

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