The skills that we learn bind our lives together. Do you want to know how to grow your own food? Or how to keep bees? How to forage for edible seaweed along the shoreline, or wild greens down by the stream? Maybe you're curious about growing mushrooms or how to grow the perfect tomato. You're invited to make these skills your own. Designed to be read with a pot of tea by your elbow and a notebook beside you, Milkwood is all you need to start living a more home-grown life. From DIY projects to wild fermented recipes, the in-depth knowledge and hands-on instruction contained in these pages will have your whole family fascinated and inspired to get growing, keeping, cooking and making.
Most homesteading books seem to fall into two categories - ones that are about one specific subject (eg. goats), or ones that have smaller amounts of information on many different subjects and often leave me wanting more detail. This book is neither.
I like the format of this book a lot. It’s beautifully and clearly illustrated, with lots of photos and art, and goes in depth into five subjects - tomatoes, mushrooms, beekeeping, seaweed, and wild foods.
The tomato section was stuff I knew already, but I think for a gardening beginner, or someone new to preserving it would be worth reading, and would give you all the information and recipes you need to get started in providing all your own tomatoes.
Cultivating mushrooms is something I’ve been wanting to learn for a while, but other books I’ve read have complicated it too much, used single-use plastic, or the batch sizes weren’t right - either too small, or too big, and not telling me how much food I’ll get from it. In this chapter, we learn about which mushroom species are the best for beginners to get started with, the climate and conditions they need, and how to grow them. Complete step-by-step guides are provided for cultivating mushrooms without any single-use plastic in containers, making shiitake logs outdoors, growing mushrooms in mulch, and making mushroom ‘seed bombs’ to easily inoculate areas with your fungi of choice. There’s plenty of troubleshooting and tips to get it all to work. After reading this chapter I feel I know everything I need to get started, and I’m also inspired to try every project listed! Recipes are also provided, including ways of preserving mushrooms.
In natural beekeeping we learn about Milkwood’s approach to beekeeping, which is very different from commercial beekeeping. We learn about bees in nature, how the hive works, and the processes of natural beekeeping. Keeping bees is a complicated subject, but I think this chapter gives enough information to get started with warré and top bar hives, and provides recipes and ways of using everything that the bees make, not just the honey.
The seaweed chapter was eye-opening. I never knew that all the seaweed I’d been collecting to use in the garden was actually edible, and how easy it would be to provide for my needs for dried seaweed to eat and feed to my goats. I put this chapter to use right away, and am impressed with the taste of it, and the ease of harvest and processing. I’ll never buy dried seaweed from the shop again. Recipes are provided in this chapter, along with ways to use seaweed in the garden.
A lot of the wild food chapter was known to me already, but for someone beginning with foraging, it would be really helpful. Lots of recipes and beautiful clear photos to help identify wild foods. This book is from Australia, but many of the wild foods in it can be found in most parts of the world.
Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone wanting to get started with one or more of these subjects from a permaculture perspective.