I have a confession. I’m obsessed with books. I dream of having a private library in my home where the walls are floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.Over the years, I’ve amassed quite the collection of prepper, survivalist, gardening, permaculture, homesteading, beekeeping, food preservation, midwifery, and (naturally) herbal books.
I thought I’d start including some book reviews on the blog to 1) justify this compulsion to buy books, and more importantly 2) help people find solid resources. (Few things irk me more than people getting herbal advice from a Facebook meme with no supporting documentation to the claims made.)
For my first review, I chose to review Rick Austin’s book, The Secret Garden of Survival, How to Grow a Camouflaged Food Forest.
This book packs a ton of information into a single, compact resource. It is actually a much shorter book than I expected, but Rick Austin writes in a very direct, no nonsense manner. It is clear, concise, and practical. I greatly appreciated his cut-to-the-chase approach.
This was the best explanation of permaculture I’ve ever read. Many permaculture books are often intimidating due to their size, at many point confusing and laborious to read, and some are rather expensive ($100+). With Secret Garden of Survival, however, you come away understanding the how’s and the why’s of permaculture in record time.
Naturally, the book also discusses why this garden is so well concealed and a far better strategy for preppers than raised beds or planting in rows. This is some of the other topics the Secret Garden of Survival covers:
- Ideal locations for a food forest (excellent advice if you are in the market for land).
- How to construct swales so you never have to worry about “watering” your garden.
- How to orient your garden to the sun.
- The basics of water storage and grey water systems
- Creating micro-climates.
- Guilds, zones, and levels- what are they, and what belongs where.
- How to attract predators insects and other safe methods of natural pest control.
- Why weeds do not need weeding.
- Using keyhole gardens for annual veggies and herbs.
- Storing a large harvest living off the grid.
What you do not get from the book are specifics as to varieties of plants and trees. For that, you will need to supplement with another permaculture book. However, once you’ve read Rick’s book, the other permaculture books all start to make a lot more sense. Save yourself the headache, and read this one first. After that, I would recommend reading Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway, as well as guide books on plants native to your region.
My only negative comment is that there are a couple of typos and errors that an editor really should have picked up. I would also add that future editions would benefit with the inclusion of book recommendations for native plants in various regions, OR perhaps the author would consider writing books for specific regions.
In summary: This is an excellent introduction to permaculture concepts, explained in a way that will help make all other permaculture books make infinitely more sense. It will not provide specifics for what to plant in your region. It was also written for the prepper/survivalist/self-reliance niche, which is unique among permaculture books. I’m glad to have read it.
Rick Austin also has a companion book to this called, The Secret Greenhouse of Survival. I haven’t read it yet, but I will likely do a review on it in a few weeks, after I review a few herbal books that you should absolutely have in your prepper library.
To purchase a copy of this book, and the others mentioned in this review, click the Amazon links below.
Secret Garden of Survival: How to grow a camouflaged food- forest.
Secret Greenhouse of Survival: How to Build the Ultimate Homestead & Prepper Greenhouse (Secret Garden of Survival) (Volume 2)
Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture