I’ve always been a voracious reader, I was the kid that read cereal boxes and shampoo bottles when there was nothing else. It was pre-smart phone after all. These days I stick to gardening books, canning books and cookbooks but I’m still reading all the time.
There are a lot of options out there and I wanted to break down my favorite garden related books, there is something for everyone on this list from beginner to master gardener. You can’t keep every drop of information stored in your brain but the next best thing is a good book.
I’m not a professional or even a super successful gardener but I am really good at research, I have 3 shelves full of gardening books and I’m only picking out my favorites to share with you today. For the record, most of my garden fails are related to my lack of time, not skill 😉
If you plan on buying any of these from Amazon (many thanks if you get them through my links!) do your wallet a favor and check out the used book section, sometimes you can find ‘like new’ books for steep discounts and it’s just going to end up covered in dirt anyway.
The Best All Around Gardening Book
My all time, hands down, irreplaceable favorite gardening book is The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible. It’s a big book and it’s full of info! There are lots of charts and they do a great job at breaking down information into digestible bits.
It covers everything from site selection and soil prep to dealing with pests and diseases and well… it just has EVERYTHING.
The only negative I’ve seen (and I gleaned this from amazon reviews, I have no issues with the book) is that since the author is based in Maine it’s geared more towards northern gardeners, I’m a northern gardener so I haven’t had any issues but if you’re growing in the deep south you might want to keep that in mind.
I use this book all year long, when I’m planning out next year, trying to figure out why the hell my carrots are so miserable or what I can do to keep the cucumber beetles away. The Fruit Gardeners Bible and the The Flower Gardeners Bible are also great books if you like to grow more than just vegetables.
If you’re looking for the best gardening book for beginners you can stop right here, head over to Amazon and pick up a copy.
Best Book for Starting a New Garden
Lasagna Gardening spends most of the winter on my bedside table as a I plan out the next year. I have gross, wet, hard, rock filled clay soil. It doesn’t drain, you can’t dig in it until late May or more likely June because it’s so wet and sticky.
When I decided to start putting in a vegetable garden I knew that yearly tilling was a no-go. So over the years I’ve put in raised beds, currently I have six 14*4 ft raised beds made of 2*6 pine board plus the asparagus bed and the beds next to the Cattle Panel Trellis.
If you can picture that in your head you’ll see that it’s a lot of dirt to fill those in. Thanks to the chickens and alpacas (and the cows before they moved away) I had lots of old poo hanging around looking for a home, it made a very nice base for our ‘lasagna’ filling.
I’ve found the lasagna method works wonders for soil structure and fertility. While this book isn’t strictly about raised beds I’d recommend it 10000000x over Square Foot Gardening, that book is more like an infomercial than a gardening guide…
The Best Book for Winter Gardening
Living in an area where it’s supposed to be winter for roughly 1/2 the year it only makes sense to try and grow food when the snow flies. The Winter Harvest Handbook is the best book I’ve found for advice on winter gardening.
Unlike growing food in the spring, summer and fall; winter gardening requires a decent amount of prep work. It’s way more convenient to think it over in the winter when you’re not trying you hardest to keep the pole beans you accidentally planted instead of bush beans from murdering your pepper plants.
Oh, that only happened to me? Either way, you’ve probably got more free time in the winter to ponder things like hoop houses and cold tolerant lettuce varieties.
The Best Introduction to Growing Fruit
I think I picked up Grow Fruit at a book sale for almost nothing, and it’s worth a lot more than that. It covers all the major types of fruit, apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums, raspberries, currants, even gooseberries and figs.
There are tips on pruning (‘normal’ pruning and fancy things like fans and cordons), selecting good planting sites, how to maximize fruit production and a whole photographic index of common fruit tree pests and diseases. If you’re thinking about adding some fruit trees or bushes this is definitely a book you want to check out.
It is more of a basic introduction but it’s well written and it covers a lot of ground. Another book in this category I’ve already mentioned is The Fruit Gardeners Bible.
The Best Book for Growing Unusual Fruit
If you’ve been around for more than 45 seconds you might have guessed that I love to grow odd things. Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden fits that niche perfectly. It has chapters on everything from medlars to my sweet little alpine strawberries.
If you want to brnach out (pun!) past apples and grapes this is the book for you. It’s not filled with things that are necessarily hard to grow, they are jsut plants that have fallen out of favor or aren’t possible to grow commercially.
To me half the fun of gardening is growing something you can’t get anywhere else!
The Best Introductory Pruning Book
Pruning Made Easy is another one of those books I need to keep on hand for reference. There is a lot to keep track of with pruning, especially if you have a huge variety of plant types on your hands like me.
You just can’t keep all that info stored in your head, you really only need it a few times a year so save your mental memory card and keep a good book on call.
For example, most fruit trees, especially the vigorous ones, don’t do so well without seasonal pruning. It’s not really a hard task but it was be over whelming if you don’t know what your doing and even a little bit scary (yes, you really need to cut that much off).
Pruning made easy is filled with diagrams and step-by-step instructions of pruning just about anything. Not only does it do a great job covering fruit trees, bushes and vines but it also covers shade trees, roses and ornamental bushes like lilacs and forsythias.
If you’re picking up this homestead/farm/orchard lifestyle on you’re own with only help from the internet and a stack of books you know how valuable good, easy to understand information is.
I’ll be honest when I say I take this one out in the field with me when it’s time to trim up the grapes or prune the currant bushes.
The Best Book for Garden Pests
The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control is a great book to have that you hope you’ll never need. The first half of the book breaks down issues by plant type.
For example you’re out in the garden weeding (because you’re a better gardener than I am) and you notice the roots on your radishes are rough with dark spots. Flip to page 179 and under radish problems you’ll discover you’ve got scab.
Luckily the next paragraph explains that it’s a fungal problem caused by low magnesium in dry, acidic soil and explains how to remedy the problem with Epsom salts or compost.
The second half of the book is a photographic index in color of pests and diseases. If you’re an organic gardener or even if you just try to keep things on the natural side you’re gonna have insects in your garden, some are really bad, some are pretty neutral and some are awesome! It’s really good to know what is what.
Following the chapter on insect pests is another filled with beneficial insects and maybe more importantly, how to attract them. The OGHNPDC (long little, amazing results) is such a great resource to have on hand, I can’t recommend it enough.
A Bonus Book That’s Not About Gardening!
One more just for fun. How to Pick a Peach isn’t a gardening book at all. BUT it’s another one of those books with an almost impossible amount of awesome information in it. It looks at a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
It gives a little bit of history about each type, when and how to find the best of the best at farm stands and markets and includes a few recipes that make the most of peak produce. Gardeners and foodies will both appreciate this book.
I have and love all of the books I’ve mentioned but I’m always looking for more, please share your favorite gardening books in the comments!
By the way I take no responsibility for exaggerated garden planning or mountainous seed orders. Don’t forget to PIN this post to your gardening board for later.
Check out my Gardening Page for more ideas or start here: