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A Greener Life: The Modern Country Compendium    by Clarissa Dickson Wright & Johnny Scott order for
Greener Life
by Clarissa Dickson Wright
Order:  USA  Can
Kyle Cathie, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

A Greener Life is a coffee table sized book, that takes us back to the basics of country living - from growing your own food and herbs to making soap and candles, plucking a chicken, potting and pickling. There are two major sections - The Green Outdoors, The Green You - and a short one on The Green House, followed by a seasonal diary, and a set of useful addresses and websites. Color photos, historical tidbits, and mouthwatering recipes enhance the presentation throughout.

In The Green Outdoors, the authors give practical advice on becoming self-sufficient with respect to food. They discuss basic principles of organic gardening, lunar planting, tools, gardening in small vs. large spaces, soil and weed management, sowing seed, crop rotation, greenhouse gardening, pests and diseases, growing fruits and vegetables, herbs and grains. Wild food is covered, including nuts, seaweed, nettles (with a recipe for nettle beer), edible mushrooms, rabbits, deer, and pheasants. Next comes rearing livestock - cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens etc. - for food.

The second part of the book, The Green You, is about making your own things, like candles, soap, and cleaning materials. It continues to cover spinning wool (with step by step photos), weaving, felting, dying, knitting, quilting, and mending. Learn herbal remedies, how to make butter, yoghurt and cheeses, baking bread (plenty of recipes), preserving in salt, drying meat, smoking, potting and pickling, drying fruit and vegetables (I'll try the mincemeat recipe here), and making jams. The revitalization of farmers' markets is covered, and home brewing and winemaking explained (did you know mead was made from crab apples?), also how to make vinegars and ciders.

Finally, in The Green House, the authors introduce alternative energy sources and use of natural paints. They remind us that living a greener life requires 'getting your hands dirty.' Whether you intend to go the whole hog (sorry, couldn't resist) in returning to a greener lifestyle or, as I do, squeamishly pick and choose from the recommendations here, A Greener Life is an informative resource that will inspire you and get you started - and you never know, your copy might become a real treasure if the veneer of civilization is ever stripped away by natural or man-made catastrophe.

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