Gardens are an amazing place. They can also be a frustrating and mysterious place. There is so much to learn and practice. Thankfully there are some great gardening books that we can carry out there with us to guide the journey.
There are no shortage of gardening books and everyone has a favorite (or several). For those of us who like to keep it simple and abundant, these are our favorites:
The Encyclopedia of Country Living
Every gardener, every homesteader, needs The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. All the basic information will work no matter where a garden is located. Planting depth, spacing, and harvest information are consistent everywhere. Beyond providing solid gardening advice, this book provides recipes and preservation methods as well so that you can make your garden work hard for your house.
The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook
When you just want to get started, The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook by Cam Mather is the book for you. It provides basic tips and techniques to grow over 45 fruits and vegetables without overwhelming the reader with charts, checklists, talk of trace minerals, and hard-to-find soil supplements. You’ll get the basics and more. It contains plenty of information for both novice and experienced gardeners and can quickly become a quick reference for every garden need.
Four Season Harvest
Gardeners especially in colder climates are often trying to understand how to extend short seasons. Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman is the book designed to help you figure that out. In this delightful read, you get an education on healthy soil, seeds, planting outside, and undercover for fresh winter eating. Don’t be fooled, there are plenty of things the southern gardener can learn from this book as well even if cold frame gardens aren’t necessary.
Permaculture seems like a big and scary concept. However, in Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway, we learn that it can be done in a regular backyard. Permaculture helps the gardener work with nature instead of constantly trying (and failing) to keep it in check. This amazing book will help you learn about soil fertility, water conversation, beneficial insects, and much more in a completely doable way even on small urban lots.
Regional Garden Books
Whenever possible look for gardening books written for your specific region. There are many small regional presses that put out gardening books on everything from growing on the northern prairie to gardening in the Everglades. Find these books with an online search or asking at a local garden center. These are likely to be the best and most accurate sources for planting dates and more. If you can’t find something for your small area, the editors of Sunset put together wonderful regional guides worth seeking out.
Your Garden Journal
Create your own very personalized gardening book by keeping a garden journal. Record notes on temperatures, rainfall, planting dates, harvest totals, problems, successes – simply everything. This doesn’t have to be fancy just a record of your garden. Use a simple composition notebook or get yourself The Gardening Notebook for a more guided and helpful resource.
After practice, this journal will become your best reference. It will remind you of when you traditionally plant cabbage and when you harvest tomatoes. It will help you understand that you had more tomatoes last year but you also had fewer hornworms than you do this year. The journal simply becomes the best and most accurate reference books for your particular garden.