Australian Field Guides and Nature Books
Australian Field Guides and Nature Books

Permaculture, Self Sufficiency And Sustainable Living Books

See Also: Australian Field Guides and Nature Books, Survival Books, My Top Two Survival Books, and Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) Course Directory.

This page will contain mostly Australian books, and some international books. The Australian books are mostly still relevant in other countries though. Permaculture was invented in Australia so many of the classic (and best) permaculture books are Australian. The page suggests some books to get if you are interested in learning more about the permaculture and sustainable living information that you see on survival.org.au.

In many bookshops (especially online ones) you are presented with hundreds of books and not much idea which one(s) are the best to get. So here I have described the books that I myself have used to learn from, and that are the most popular and the most recommended. (Since I have spent a ridiculous amount of time over the last several years looking into what books are available). The prices are current as of when I have last updated this page, so they may possibly change when you click on the links.

I will be adding lots more books in the future. My personal book collection is ridiculously large, so by the time I list everything that I own and have read (or at least looked over and read some of) there will be a lot of material here.

NEW: Note from February 2017 — I've added 12 new books, added links to more sources for the existing books, and added proper cover images of all the books.

Categories Found On This Australian Nature Books Page

Permaculture Books
Self Sufficiency and Sustainable Living Books
Organic Vegetable Gardening Books
Books About Sustainability and the Global Resources Crisis


Permaculture Books


The Permaculture Handbook, Peter BaneNEW: The Permaculture Handbook, Peter Bane. Forward by David Holmgren. This comprehensive manual casts garden farming as both an economic opportunity and a strategy for living well with less money. It's my favourite all-round permaculture book at the moment. It sits nicely between the highly technical Permaculture: A Designers' Manual and other books which are more practical but also more limited in scope. At 463 large pages it has a lot of information in the one book, but it has a friendly, easy-to-read feel about it which many large comprehensive books tend to lack.

In the foreword, David Holmgren (one of the two founders of permaculture, the other being Bill Mollison) says "Of all the permaculture books from Australia, America and around the world, this one most completely fills the big space between my own articulation of permaculture theory in Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2002) and my earlier intimate documentation of our own efforts towards garden farming in Melliodora: a case study in cool climate permaculture (1995). This book is likely to become the classic design manual for those with the energy and enthusiasm to become the garden farmers of the future."

Purchase from Australia (Angus & Robertson)

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

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Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition, by Toby HemenwayNEW: Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition, by Toby Hemenway. This was the first major North American book on permaculture, and for the past six years has been the world's best-selling book on permaculture, a design approach based on ecology for creating sustainable landscapes, homes, communities, and workplaces.

Many people mistakenly think that ecological gardening — which involves growing a wide range of edible and other useful plants — can take place only on a large, multiacre scale. As Hemenway demonstrates, it’s fun and easy to create a “backyard ecosystem” by assembling communities of plants that can work cooperatively and perform a variety of functions, including:

  • Building and maintaining soil fertility and structure
  • Catching and conserving water in the landscape
  • Providing habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and animals
  • Growing an edible “forest” that yields seasonal fruits, nuts, and other foods

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

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The Earth Care Manual: A Permaculture Handbook for Britain and Other Temperate Climates, by Patrick WhitefieldNEW: The Earth Care Manual: A Permaculture Handbook for Britain and Other Temperate Climates, by Patrick Whitefield. This was perhaps the first major non-Australian permaculture book, now reprinted in 2016. 480 pages.

As seen on the BBC 2 TV Series, It’s Not Easy Being Green (attracting over 3 million viewers), the critically acclaimed and definitive permaculture design book, reprinted due to popular demand

“You’ve probably never thought of yourself as the ultimate ‘eco-warrior’, but this book will make you think again... essential reading.” Kitchen Gardener

This is the book which inspired Brigit Strawbridge (It’s Not Easy Being Green, BBC2) to attended her first permaculture design course with Patrick Whitefield, and to set her and her family off on a voyage of discovery which is helping to introduce and inspire others to explore permaculture. Already hailed in the UK, Europe and America as definitive, The Earth Care Manual offers an inspirational yet practical vision of a sustainable future invaluable to those new to the subject as well as to the experienced practitioner. 

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

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Purchase from Amazon.com Note that Amazon.com says it's from 2005, however the ISBN and cover are the same as the 2016 version, so it's most probably the 2016 one.

Purchase from Amazon.co.uk

Permaculture: A Designers' Manual by Bill MollisonPermaculture: A Designers' Manual by Bill Mollison [Amazon]. This is the "bible" of permaculture, which covers basically everything that people will need to know to create a world without fossil fuel-based economic growth and the modern technologies which these unsustainable (and soon to be gone) practices have made us dependent on. It seems a bit intimidating at first (perhaps a lot intimidating if you are not really a book person), but once you start to become familiar with it, a whole new world opens up. The best way to get familiar with it is to study a Permaculture Design Certificate course (PDC), for which this book is the textbook. The PDC course goes through most of the book in summary form, which then gives you the background needed to open the book up and feel right at home with it.

This is the definitive Permaculture design manual in print since 1988. It is the textbook and curriculum for the 72-hour Certificate course in Permaculture Design.
Written for teachers, students and designers, it follows on and greatly enlarges on the initial introductory texts, permaculture One (1978) and Permaculture Two (1979).

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Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison with Reny Mia SlayIntroduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison with Reny Mia Slay. This book is the replacement for the first ever actual "permaculture" book in 1979, which was called Permaculture One.

Written to introduce readers to Permaculture concepts and design strategies. Abundantly illustrated with detailed diagrams and line drawings throughout. Includes a listing of useful Permaculture plants with descriptions and uses, and a further species list in useful categories. The book is set out as a step-by-step introduction to Permaculture with detailed instructions. Using simple language it describes the range of Permaculture for general consumption.

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Purchase Permaculture One from Amazon (Secondhand or new old stock)

Permaculture Two : Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture, by Bill MollisonPermaculture Two : Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture, by Bill Mollison. The first permaculture book was called "Permaculture One", which is now out of print and has been replaced by "Introduction to Permaculture" (which is basically an updated version of it). So the two introductory permaculture books are now Introduction to Permaculture, and Permaculture Two.

This book is about design. It is a practical book dealing with the elements of design which create a sustainable system. Energy benefits are discussed relating to both domestic and broad acre environments.

Permaculture Two is about design, not gardening or livestock per se but as elements in a system intended to serve man, and the ends of good ecology.

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Earth User's Guide to Permaculture, Rosemary MorrowEarth User's Guide to Permaculture, Rosemary Morrow. This is another of the classic permaculture books. It is Australian but could be easily applied to any country. It is in between a theory/design book and a practical book and covers the same kinds of topics as you learn in a Permaculture Design Course (PDC).

Rosemary is one of the original Permaculture teachers in Australia (or anywhere) and has vast experience with teaching people the principles of permaculture. She is known and revered worldwide for her pragmatic and effective approach to creating permaculture systems across an incredibly broad range of environments. Rosemary has successfully implemented community-scale permaculture systems in such diverse biospheres as Uganda, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Thailand, the Middle East, Australia, and northern Europe, to name but a few. Her knowledge on how to create abundance, food security, and successful sustainable farming models, no matter what the country, is unparalleled in permaculture education today.

I went to the launch of the second edition of this book, and I also caught up with Rosemary at a group workshop, "The Work That Reconnects". The workshops (which I highly recommend) may possibly run again in future.

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

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Purchase from Australia: The Earth User's Guide to Teaching Permaculture (Booktopia)

Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability by David HolmgrePermaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren. 2002. Some people really love this book, others find it a bit too abstract. Its more about the principles and how they can be used, quite generally, and applied to a lot of things. Its not so much of a practical how-to-grow-stuff type of book but more the kind of book that you can develop into a philosophy of life.

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Purchase from Australia (Fishpond) (2011 UK version: newer, cheaper)

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The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu FukuokaThe One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka

Masanobu Fukuoka, who lived to age 95, was a proponent of no-till, no-herbicide grain cultivation farming methods traditional to many indigenous cultures, from which he created a particular method of farming, commonly referred to as "Natural Farming" or "Do-nothing Farming".

"The One-Straw Revolution is one of the founding documents of the alternative food movement, and indispensable to anyone hoping to understand the future of food and agriculture." — Michael Pollan

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Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and GardeningSepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening, by Sepp Holzer.

Sepp Holzer farms steep mountainsides in Austria 1,500 meters above sea level. His farm is an intricate network of terraces, raised beds, ponds, waterways and tracks, well covered with productive fruit trees and other vegetation, with the farmhouse neatly nestling amongst them. This is in dramatic contrast to his neighbors' spruce monocultures. In this book, Holzer shares the skill and knowledge acquired over his lifetime. He covers every aspect of his farming methods, not just how to create a holistic system on the farm itself, but how to make a living from it. Holzer writes about everything from the overall concepts, down to the practical details. In Sepp Holzer's Permaculture readers will learn:

  • How he sets up a permaculture system
  • The fruit varieties he has found best for permaculture growing
  • How to construct terraces, ponds, and waterways
  • How to build shelters for animals and how to work with them on the land
  • How to cultivate edible mushrooms in the garden and on the farm
  • and much more!

Holzer offers a wealth of information for the gardener, smallholder or alternative farmer yet the book's greatest value is the attitudes it teaches. He reveals the thinking processes based on principles found in nature that create his productive systems. These can be applied anywhere.

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Watch videos on YouTube

Edible Forest Gardens: Vision and Theory (Volume 1 of a 2 volume set) by Dave Jacke and Eric ToensmeierEdible Forest Gardens: Vision and Theory (Volume 1 of a 2 volume set) by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier. Ecological Vision, Theory for Temperate Climate Permaculture

Edible Forest Gardens is a groundbreaking two-volume work that spells out and explores the key concepts of forest ecology and applies them to the needs of natural gardeners in temperate climates. Volume I lays out the vision of the forest garden and explains the basic ecological principles that make it work.

Along the way they present case studies and examples, as well as tables, illustrations, and a uniquely valuable "plant matrix" that lists hundreds of the best edible and useful species.

Taken together, the two volumes of Edible Forest Gardens offer an advanced course in ecological gardening--one that will forever change the way you look at plants and your environment.

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Edible Forest Gardens: Design and Practice (Volume 2 of a 2 volume set) by Dave Jacke and Eric ToensmeierEdible Forest Gardens: Design and Practice (Volume 2 of a 2 volume set) by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier. Ecological Design and Practice for Temperate-Climate Permaculture

In Volume II, Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier move on to practical considerations: concrete ways to design, establish, and maintain your own forest garden.

Taken together, the two volumes of Edible Forest Gardens offer an advanced course in ecological gardening--one that will forever change the way you look at plants and your environment.

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Edible Forest Gardens (Both volumes of the 2 volume set) by Dave Jacke and Eric ToensmeierEdible Forest Gardens (Both volumes of the 2 volume set) by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier

Edible Forest Gardens is a groundbreaking two-volume work that spells out and explores the key concepts of forest ecology and applies them to the needs of natural gardeners in temperate climates.

Taken together, the two volumes of Edible Forest Gardens offer an advanced course in ecological gardening--one that will forever change the way you look at plants and your environment.

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Water For Every Farm: Yeomans Keyline Plan by P. A. YeomansWater For Every Farm: Yeomans Keyline Plan by P. A. Yeomans. This is the original text of the keyline method of harvesting water that is taught in permaculture courses, i.e. "keyline farming". Its not the most readable book ever but the information it contains is hugely important (though you might not need to know it in this much detail).

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Back from the Brink: How Australia's Landscape Can Be Saved by Peter AndrewsBack from the Brink: How Australia's Landscape Can Be Saved by Peter Andrews.

Peter Andrews was the subject of a two-part Australian Story in 2005, 'Of Drought and Flooding Rain', about his controversial vision for saving the Australian landscape. In this book, Peter outlines what he has learned about Australia's unique landscape, what has led us to the potential environmental catastrophe, and the unique methods that could save us from disaster.

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Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape by Brad LancasterRainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape by Brad Lancaster.

The award-winning Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape, is the first book in a three-volume guide that teaches you how to conceptualize, design, and implement sustainable water-harvesting systems for your home, landscape, and community. (Note that volume 3 is not written yet and won't be out before 2019). The lessons in this volume will enable you to assess your on-site resources, give you a diverse array of strategies to maximize their potential, and empower you with guiding principles to create an integrated, multi-functional water-harvesting plan specific to your site and needs.

This revised and expanded second edition increases potential for on-site harvests with more integrated tools and strategies for solar design, a primer on your water/energy/carbon connections, descriptions of water/erosion flow patterns and their water-harvesting response, and updated illustrations to show you how to do it all.

Volume 1 helps bring your site to life, reduce your cost of living, endow you with skills of self-reliance, and create living air conditioners of vegetation, growing beauty, food, and wildlife habitat. Stories of people who are successfully welcoming rain into their life and landscape will encourage you to do the same!

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Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond (Vol. 2): Water-Harvesting Earthworks by Brad LancasterRainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond (Vol. 2): Water-Harvesting Earthworks by Brad Lancaster.

Turn water scarcity into water abundance! Earthworks are one of the easiest, least expensive, and most effective ways of passively harvesting and conserving multiple sources of water in the soil. Associated vegetation then pumps the harvested water back out in the form of beauty, food, shelter, wildlife habitat, and passive heating and cooling strategies, while controlling erosion, increasing soil fertility, reducing downstream flooding, and improving water and air quality.

Building on the information presented in Volume 1, this book shows you how to select, place, size, construct, and plant your chosen water-harvesting earthworks. It presents detailed how-to information and variations of a diverse array of earthworks, including chapters on mulch, vegetation, and greywater recycling so you can customize the techniques to the unique requirements of your site.

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Design & Construction of Small Earth Dams (Practical farming) by K. NelsonDesign & Construction of Small Earth Dams (Practical Farming) by K. Nelson. Out of print, may be available occasionally secondhand. According to Nick Ritar of Milkwood Permaculture, this is one of the best books ever about how to build small farm-size dams. Its hard to find though.

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Forest Gardening by Robert HartForest Gardening by Robert Hart. One of the original classic permaculture books.

Forest gardening is a way of working with nature which is not only productive and requires minimal maintenance, but creates great environmental benefits. Robert Hart describes the principles and practice of forest gardening (a form of Agroforestry or Permaculture), and shows its potential value for countering environmental devastation both in the West and in the Third World. The book includes guidelines on how to design and maintain a forest garden, and lists of recommended species for temperate, tropical and sub-tropical climates.

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Purchase DVD from Australia (Fishpond) (I think it's PAL Region 2 UK, will play on Australian multi-region players.)

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The Permaculture Home Garden, Linda WoodrowThe Permaculture Home Garden, Linda Woodrow. Foreword by Bill Mollision. This is an extremely practical book, more so than Rosemary Morrow's Book and the books by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren (which are great books, but somewhat more like design books rather than how to do all the nuts and bolts of it). The spiel for this book says "A totally integrated system of gardening - a labour-saving way to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs that taste great and help to keep the environment healthy".

It's Australian and there is more of a focus on annual vegetables than what's usually found in permaculture books (which have more focus on perennials). It was one of the earlier books available.

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Permaculture Plants: A Selection, Jeff Nugent and Julia BonifacePermaculture Plants: A Selection, Jeff Nugent and Julia Boniface. This book is an absolutely massive list of plants to use in permaculture farms and gardens. There are only a few pictures (as colour plates in the middle of the book) but there is a huge amount of information here. There are descriptions and information about most of the plants. To give you some idea of how many plants are in this book, the index goes for 21 pages out of the book's 160 pages.

It includes traditional western fruit and nut plants and also plants such as Acacias that are not found in most non-permaculture-oriented books about fruit and vegetable gardening.

The focus is on tropical and subtropical areas, there are also some plants for cooler areas, but there are less of these.

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Self Sufficiency and Sustainable Living Books

Practical Self Sufficiency: An Australian Guide To Sustainable Living, by Dick and James Strawbridge NEW: Practical Self Sufficiency: An Australian Guide To Sustainable Living, by Dick and James Strawbridge. This guide offers clear step by step advice in classic DK style and contains:

  • The most up to date and comprehensive information on sustainable living.
  • Full page artworks, showing how to use every kind of plot for self sufficient living.
  • Instructions on how to grow your own herbs, fruits and vegetables.
  • Water saving tips - perfect for drought affected areas.
  • Instructions on how to make a wormery, build a chicken coop, install solar panels, build a wind turbine, make cheese, jams and breads, brew beer, make soap, weave with willow and the list goes on!

Written by experienced and passionate eco-livers Dick and James Strawbridge, this title is comprehensive, inclusive and contemporary and is set to become the definitive guide of its kind.

Perfectly adapted for the Australian market and ideal for everyone in urban, suburban or rural areas - becoming self sufficient has never been more topical, more practical or more fun!

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Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre, by  Brett L. Markham NEW: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre, by Brett L. Markham. Start a mini farm on a quarter acre or less, provide 85 percent of the food for a family of four and earn an income.

Mini Farming describes a holistic approach to small-area farming that will show you how to produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter acre — and earn $10,000 in cash annually while spending less than half the time that an ordinary job would require.

Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book covers everything you need to know to get started: buying and saving seeds, starting seedlings, establishing raised beds, soil fertility practices, composting, dealing with pest and disease problems, crop rotation, farm planning, and much more. Because self-sufficiency is the objective, subjects such as raising backyard chickens and home canning are also covered along with numerous methods for keeping costs down and production high. Materials, tools, and techniques are detailed with photographs, tables, diagrams, and illustrations.

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HOTSurvival, Self Sufficiency and Sustainable LivingThis book is the #1 Best Seller in Gardening & Horticulture Reference on Amazon

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself, by Carla Emery NEW: The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself, by Carla Emery. This is a huge book that covers a huge range amount of subjects. It doesn't go really deep on any one thing since with this large a scope, that would entail a whole library, not just one book. Sure you could find a lot of this information on the internet, but what about when there's no more internet? There are a lot of mail order sources which are mostly (or entirely) relevant to North America.

The bestselling resource for modern homesteading, growing and preserving foods, and raising chickens, The Encyclopedia of Country Living includes how to cultivate a garden, buy land, bake bread, raise farm animals, make sausage, can peaches, milk a goat, grow herbs, churn butter, build a chicken coop, catch a pig, cook on a wood stove, and much, much more. This comprehensive resource is the most authoritative guide available to a sustainable lifestyle and living off of the land.

Carla Emery started writing The Encyclopedia of Country Living in 1969 during the back-to-the-land movement of that time. She continued to add content and refine the information over the years, and the book went from a self-published mimeographed document to a book of 928 pages.

This 40th Anniversary Edition reflects the most up-to-date resource information and the most personal version of the book that became Carla Emery's life work. It is the original manual of basic country skills that have proved essential and necessary for people living in the country, the city, and everywhere in between.

Carla Emery's The Encyclopedia of Country Living contains 1,000,000 words, 2,000+ recipes, and 1,500+ mail-order sources (for everything she tells you how to do, she also tells you where to get the supplies to do it). This book is so basic, so thorough, so reliable, that it deserves a place in every home.

Table of Contents

1 Oddments
2 Introduction to Plants
3 Grasses, Grains & Canes
4 Garden Vegetables
5 Herbs & Flavorings
6 Tree, Vine, Bush & Bramble
7 Food Preservation
8 Introduction to Animals
9 Poultry
10 Goats, Cows & Home Dairying
11 Bee, Rabbit, Sheep & Pig
12 Appendix

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Secret Garden of Survival: How to grow a camouflaged food- forest, by Rick Austin NEW: Secret Garden of Survival: How to grow a camouflaged food- forest, by Rick Austin. 2012. This is the first book of a three book series. The few negative reviews concentrate on the books' price per page being a bit high — however this is often the case for niche market, independently published books.

Imagine a food garden that you only have to plant once in your life-time, that takes up very little space, that will provide food for you and your family for the next 30 years; that can grow five times more food per square foot than traditional or commercial gardening; and where you never have to weed, never have to use fertilizers and never have to use pesticide-- ever. All diguised as overgrown underbrush, so nobody knows you have food growing there! This book will show you how to do it in one growing season!

Click here to purchase from Amazon.com

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Secret Greenhouse of Survival: How to Build the Ultimate Homestead & Prepper Greenhouse (Secret Garden of Survival series volume 2), by Rick Austin NEW: Secret Greenhouse of Survival: How to Build the Ultimate Homestead & Prepper Greenhouse (Secret Garden of Survival series volume 2), by Rick Austin. 2013. This is the second book of a three book series.

This is the ultimate sustainable homestead and prepper greenhouse, but purposely doesn’t look like it. Imagine a greenhouse that heats your home in the winter; and heats your water; that grows five times more food per sq. ft. than a hoop house; that provides food for you and your family all year long; where your food grows in 3 dimensions; where you never have to use fertilizer; where you never have to use pesticide, and where you can grow exotic foods (i.e. citrus or coffee trees in New England); that allows you to start seedlings in the spring; that hides your solar electric system; and that can house your small animals or incubate chickens and ducks. All disguised to look like a porch on your home, so that desperate and hungry passersby would have no idea that you have food growing there. This greenhouse does all that.

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Secret Livestock of Survival: How to Raise The 10 Best Choices For Retreat And Homestead Livestock (Secret Garden of Survival series volume 3), by Rick Austin NEW: Secret Livestock of Survival: How to Raise The 10 Best Choices For Retreat And Homestead Livestock (Secret Garden of Survival series volume 3), by Rick Austin. August 2016. By the author, "When most people think of raising homestead livestock, they invariably think that they must have chickens and a cow. But truth be told, when it comes to raising livestock, there are a lot of reasons to avoid raising chickens altogether, and almost every reason not to own a cow.

Just like in my previous two books in this series, the Secret Livestock of Survival- How to Raise the Very Best Choices for Retreat and Homestead Livestock, will show you how to grow your own sources of food (in this case- protein), with a much better return on your investment of time, money, feed, housing and real estate, than with traditional homestead thinking. And these livestock animals are discrete, so most people won’t even know you are raising them.

I wrote this book, as the book that I wish I could have read, before I made my venture into raising livestock. Because if this book had been available then, I could have done it right the first time, and saved myself a lot of time, heartache and money!

Now you can learn what I have learned, without having to learn it the hard way.

If you are serious about raising livestock, whether you are an existing homesteader, or just getting started, this book will save you many hundreds of times what it costs you to buy right now. (And the information contained in this book, can replace the need for you to buy about 10 other livestock books.)

You can now live off the grid. Not just the electrical grid, but off the industrial food grid. And the less you are reliant on the industrial food chain, the wealthier and more secure you will be."

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You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise by Joel SalatinYou Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise by Joel Salatin. A hugely inspirational book about how to succeed in farming. Keep in mind that after the crash, farming will become one of the most in-demand occupations.

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Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm (DVD) by Marjory WildcraftFood Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm (DVD) by Marjory Wildcraft (Actor), Marjory Wildcraft (Director) Format: DVD, 2 Discs. I haven't seen this one, I found it while I was looking up links for this page, and I plan to order it soon. It looks really good and has amazingly good reviews (221 out of 226 are 5 star, which is amazing).

Over 300,000 copies of this video set are being used in more than 38 countries around the world. Covers everything you need to know including - water systems (and how to know when to water) - best gardening methods - easiest ways to keep small livestock with little work of feed - predator protection - how do do home butchering with honor and respect - food forests and edible landscaping. The set also comes with many bonus reports on rainwater harvesting, tanning rabbit hides, free fertilizers, home meade food dehydrators, seeds saving, and much much. All the techniques show you how to grow food in a grid down, or 'real sustainability' environment.

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City Goats: The Goat Justice League's Guide to Backyard Goat Keeping by Jennie Palches GrantCity Goats: The Goat Justice League's Guide to Backyard Goat Keeping by Jennie Palches Grant. Time Magazine calls author Jennie Grant the, "godmother of goat lovers." Since Grant began keeping milking goats several years ago, she has learned firsthand the remarkable benefits and beauty of keeping goats -- how much healthier and easier to maintain a yard with goats can be, the tolerance levels of neighbors, the health benefits of non-industrial foods, and how interacting with goats inspires a connection with nature.

City Goats: The Goat Justice League's Guide to Urban Goat Keeping is her step-by-step guide to raising a pair of dairy goats in your urban or suburban backyard, from learning city zoning requirements and selecting goats to setting up your yard, building a goat shed, feeding and caring, kidding, and milking. Practical and at times comical (just like a goat!)

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Backyard Self Sufficiency, Jackie FrenchBackyard Self Sufficiency, Jackie French. There is now a 2009 update of this classic self-sufficiency book. This is a great book that covers a whole range of topics including "Small animals for small gardens" and "Growing in adversity". The section about how to start a box garden from this book is reproduced here on survival.org.au.

Click here to purchase from Australia $19.99 AUD
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Living the Good Life: How One Family Changed Their World from Their Own Backyard, Linda CockburnLiving the Good Life: How One Family Changed Their World from Their Own Backyard, Linda Cockburn. This is a great book describing how Linda Cockburn and her family (her, Trevor and Caleb) went on a mission to live for six months without spending any money at all, while living entirely off the produce from a large-ish suburban backyard (not on acreage). It is written in diary format. Highly recommended. Their website is lintrezza.blogspot.com.au.

Click here to purchase from Australia $26.99 AUD
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Organic Vegetable Gardening Books

All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space by Mel BartholomewNEW: All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space by Mel Bartholomew. 2013 Edition. Rapidly increasing in popularity, square foot gardening is the most practical, foolproof way to grow a home garden. That explains why author and gardening innovator Mel Bartholomew has sold more than two million books describing how to become a successful DIY square foot gardener.

Now, with the publication of All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition, the essential guide to his unique step-by-step method has become even better. Mel developed his techniques back in the early 1980s and has been teaching them throughout the world ever since. In the process, he has made improvements and refinements and continually adapted his practices to keep pace with modern times.

In this new volume, Bartholomew furthers his discussion on one of the most popular gardening trends today: vertical gardening. He also explains how you can make gardening fun for kids by teaching them the square foot method. Finally, an expanded section on pest control helps you protect your precious produce. Rich with new full-color images and updated tips for selecting materials, this beautiful new edition is perfect for brand-new gardeners as well as the millions of square foot gardeners who are already dedicated to Mel's industry-changing insights.

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HOTSurvival, Self Sufficiency and Sustainable LivingThis book is the #1 Best Seller in Vegetable Gardening on Amazon

One Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square by Lolo HoubeinOne Magic Square: The Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square by Lolo Houbein. 2016 Edition. This book is kind of the opposite of "Gardening When it Counts" (see below), which is about how to grow food with hardly any water, by using more space than what most people use in modern town-irrigated times. One Magic Square is about how to grow food using hardly any space, which is very good if you have some water but hardly any space.

All it takes to grow your own organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs is One Magic Square

Lolo Houbein has 40 years’ worth of gardening wisdom to share—on how to coax an abundance of organic food from a plot that is just 3 feet square!

  • Sustainable, cost-effective, and creative techniques: how to compost, save water, troubleshoot weeds and pests, create a plant-friendly microclimate, and more
  • Over 40 themed plot designs, from antioxidant-rich and anti-cancer plots to salad, pizza, pasta, and stir-fry plots
  • Encyclopedic information about every crop in every plot
  • Tips on drying, freezing, pickling, and other ways to get more value and enjoyment from your homegrown produce
  • And her irresistible gardening philosophy (“If herbs wanted to be used frugally, they would also grow frugally. But they don’t!”)

Ever encouraging, often charming, and always practical, this expanded second edition of One Magic Square Vegetable Gardening will help first-time gardeners get started—and help veteran gardeners get results—on a small, easy-to-maintain plot. No actual magic is required!

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Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty by by Gary Paul NabhanNEW: Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty by Gary Paul Nabhan (Author), Bill McKibben (Foreword). June 2013. How to harvest water and nutrients, select drought-tolerant plants, and create natural diversity.

Because climatic uncertainty has now become "the new normal," many farmers, gardeners and orchard-keepers are desperately seeking ways to adapt their food production to become more resilient in the face of such "global weirding." This book draws upon the wisdom and technical knowledge from desert farming traditions all around the world to offer time-tried strategies for:

  • Building greater moisture-holding capacity and nutrients in soils
  • Protecting fields from damaging winds, drought, and floods
  • Harvesting water from uplands to use in rain gardens and terraces filled with perennial crops
  • Delecting fruits, nuts, succulents, and herbaceous perennials that are best suited to warmer, drier climates

Gary Paul Nabhan is one of the world's experts on the agricultural traditions of arid lands. For this book he has visited indigenous and traditional farmers in the Gobi Desert, the Arabian Peninsula, the Sahara Desert, and Andalusia, as well as the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Painted deserts of North America, to learn firsthand their techniques and designs aimed at reducing heat and drought stress on orchards, fields, and dooryard gardens. This practical book also includes colorful "parables from the field" that exemplify how desert farmers think about increasing the carrying capacity and resilience of the lands and waters they steward. It is replete with detailed descriptions and diagrams of how to implement these desert-adapted practices in your own backyard, orchard, or farm.

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Gardening with Less Water: Low-Tech, Low-Cost Techniques; Use up to 90% Less Water in Your Garden by David A. BainbridgeNEW: Gardening with Less Water: Low-Tech, Low-Cost Techniques; Use up to 90% Less Water in Your Garden by David A. Bainbridge. December 2015. Water shortages have become an everyday concern, but drought or a dry climate doesn't mean your garden has to suffer. With inexpensive materials such as terracotta pots, recycled bottles and nylon rope, you can create simple, effective and efficient watering systems that will dramatically reduce your water use and benefit your garden, showing how to reduce water use by up to 90%. These super-efficient systems deliver water directly to the roots, reduce weed growth, cut back on watering time and work for any size garden, and for container plants. Many of the techniques are not yet fully embraced but within the pages of Gardening with Less Water drought resilience is possible and its teachings will save precious water. Full-colour photographs and illustrated step by step instructions show how to assemble these low-tech systems and use them in the home landscape.

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Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times, Steve Solomon. Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times, Steve Solomon. This book covers exactly the things that people will want to know about gardening in a few years time when the food in the shops starts to run short. This is one of the three or four books on this website where I say "don't even think, just get this one".

When I first started growing vegetables again (again meaning as an adult rather than helping my Dad or my Grandfather), the thing that really concerned me — and depressed me — was how much water was needed to keep them alive in the summer drought. The methods taught in this book are exactly the thing that I have been looking for all this time.

The back cover comments say "Applicable to most areas in the English-speaking world except the tropics or hot deserts [so take that into account if you live in either of those climates], this book shows that any family with access to about 400 square metres of garden land can halve their food costs in most climates using just the odd bucketful of household waste water, a few hand tools, and a few hundred dollars per year spent on supplies and seeds — working just an average of two hours a day during the peak growing season."

More from the back cover: "The decline of cheap oil and the threat of harder times to come is prompting people to grow more food themselves. But currently popular intensive vegetable gardening methods depend on cheap oil, requiring high inputs of water, fertility and organic matter. Prior to the 1970s, home food growing used more land because wider plant spacing reduces the need for irrigation and requires lower levels of soil fertility to be productive — and well-spaced plants can be weeded rapidly and conveniently with hand tools while standing upright. But these efficient systems have been largely forgotten."

"It covers a host of material, including:

  • Vegetables ranked by how difficult they are to grow
  • Root systems as the key to gardening mastery
  • Seeds, spacing and irrigation
  • Home made organic fertiliser that really works
  • How to choose, use and sharpen hand tools
  • Compost making, root-cellaring and irrigation
  • Chemical-free handling of insects and diseases"

"Designed for readers with no experience, yet and eye-opener for even the seasoned gardener, Gardening When It Counts returns the backyard food garden to center stage for uncertain times ahead."

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Fruit and Vegetable Gardening in Australia, Mike Pollock and The Royal Horticultural SocietyFruit and Vegetable Gardening in Australia, Mike Pollock and The Royal Horticultural Society. The back cover of this book claims that it is "The definitive guide to growing fruit and vegetables successfully". It may well live up to that claim. It contains a huge amount of information from eight different contributors. Covers vegetables (herb plants) and also trees (e.g. fruit trees). It doesn't focus entirely on organic methods but does discuss them.

Click here to purchase from Australia $35.99 AUD (Probably unavailable)
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Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting, Lyn BagnallEasy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting, Lyn Bagnall. I just love this book. It's not laid out like a glossy magazine-page-style gardening book, just a plain old fashioned book with plain text. There are no pictures and the paper is nice and thick novel-style book paper, which is not glossy and does not smell of toxic chemicals in the way that colour books do. I find this book really easy to read, I love to pick it up and read bits from it and I have been learning heaps from it since I bought it. It's not the most basic book so I would not recommend it as your first and only veggie gardening book, but if you have either another basic book (with pictures) or a bit of experience, I would absolutely recommend it. It includes a good section on container gardening.

The moon planting calendar only goes up to 2017, but this is just a small section at the end of the book (25 out of 500 pages). It also shows how to calculate your own calendar, and the author's website has updated calendars.

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View the author's website which has guides for what to grow in each month (e.g. March 2017).


Organic Gardening, Peter BennettOrganic Gardening, Peter Bennett. This is an awesome book, which is devoted entirely to organic methods of growing plants. Almost all of the book (all of it except for about 5-10 pages) is about food plants rather than flowers or other ornamentals. The back cover states that it is the accepted major work on the subject of growing and cultivating plants in Australia and New Zealand using natural methods.

Purchase from Australia $43.49 AUD (free shipping) (Probably unavailable)

Books About Sustainability and the Global Resources Crisis


What Is Sustainable: Remembering Our Way Home, Richard Adrian ReeseWhat Is Sustainable: Remembering Our Way Home, Richard Adrian Reese. A hurricane called Peak Everything is rapidly approaching, and we are not prepared for it. Looking through doom-colored glasses, the future appears turbulent and chaotic, for obvious reasons. But when we switch to rose-colored glasses, it’s thrilling to see that dawn is breaking out all over. A dysfunctional way of life is dying, and this opens up a wide variety of new possibilities, some of which could lead to a genuinely sustainable future.

No matter what we do, the Earth will heal. It will heal if we self-destruct, and it will heal if we remember healthy values and lifestyles. Are we capable of intelligent change? Yes. But problems that took centuries to create will not be resolved in a single generation.

The purpose of this book is to encourage the healing process, to propose important questions, and to examine our reality from a different perspective. One thing is certain: the future demands a radically more intelligent worldview and skill set — and a genuinely healthy future will have little in common with the way we live today.

The four directions of this book are sustainable population, sustainable worldview, sustainable food, and reconnection with our past, our ancestors, and our non-human relatives — the living world. Subjects discussed include ecological history, domestication, voluntary simplicity, collapse, materialism, peak energy, peak food, peak population, antibiotics, aquaculture, and agroforestry.

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Australian Field Guides and Nature Books
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Australian Field Guides and Nature Books at Sustainable Insight

Perhaps my favourite gardening book, Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting is now available as a new 2012 edition that extends the planting calendar.


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