No matter where you live, no matter what your country living interests are, you must have a copy of this book. This may seem like an exaggeration or an overzealous endorsement. Rest assured, it’s not. You will see why once you start using it on your own farm.
The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner: What to Do & When to Do It by Ann Larkin Hansen is a season-guided approach to keeping up with the multitudinous things that have to be done on a homestead. The guiding philosophy behind the book is that we will work far more efficiently if we work in sync with nature. Accordingly, the year is divided into 12 seasons:
- Late winter.
- Early spring.
- Late spring.
- Early summer.
- Late summer.
- Early fall.
- Late fall.
- Early winter.
Determining what season you are in has little to do with the calendar or your plant hardiness zone or what have you. Instead, you will learn to read the signs of nature. To determine the current season on your specific piece of land, you will monitor:
- Soil temperatures.
- Air temperatures.
- Native plant and pasture growth.
- What the neighbors are planting and harvesting.
Armed with this information, you will be prepared to use the planner itself to keep up with seasonal tasks in several key areas:
- Equipment shed.
- Wildlife habitat.
The Backyard Seasonal Homestead will clue you in to when is the best time to prune fruit trees, plant a garden, breed livestock, cut firewood, and even put up a fence (yes, there is an ideal season for that!). As the seasons flow, you will receive much-needed reminders to order chicks, make succession plantings, test soil, update records, and more. Tips are provided on what to focus on each season so that top-priority tasks can be taken care of first. Blank lines are placed throughout the planner so that you can add your own reminders to the list.
Along the way, you will learn much about sustainable agriculture from the Topic of the Season features:
- Soil health and fertility.
- Meeting plant needs.
- Rotational grazing.
- Cover crops.
- Making hay.
- Caring for an orchard.
- Weed, pest, and disease control.
- Managing your woods.
- Restoring biodiversity.
- And more!
The bulk of the book is organized by season. However, the section titled “Seasonal Priorities Throughout the Year” breaks things down by category, so that you can see a year’s worth of gardening tasks, for instance, all in one place.
Besides the eBook, The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner is available in a very nice spiral-bound format that is easy to use and will lie flat on a table or other surface. While this binding is very convenient and durable enough for normal use, please note that the pages may start to tear out if subjected to heavy abuse (you may want to keep it in the house and not bring it outside with you).
Best of all, The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner has passed the test of being practical and effective in the real world. And in a variable climate, no less! Kansas has a way of throwing curve balls as the seasons change; paying strict attention to the seasonal signals listed in this planner will help keep you from being fooled.
We cannot recommend this book highly enough!
To use the planner, you will need to monitor soil temperatures. Ideally, you will use a soil thermometer, but if you don’t have one this map will suffice for Kansans.