Gardening books provide both new and time-honored ideas, are inspiring and motivating – here are some of the best books to add to your reading lists, for all levels of gardening experience.
Another new gardening season is just around the corner and I love to use the winter down-time as a perfect opportunity to read gardening books (well, and catalogs, too). They have been instrumental in my gardening life – I can’t imagine where I would be without the books that inspired and educated me to plan & make the gardens of my dreams.
I didn’t grow up gardening (other than a few years of hating to weed my mom’s lettuce patch in high school…), and definitely not organically, so books have been my resource for how to garden, what to grow, and tips to make gardening easier. They expanded my view of what was possible and gave me ideas to make our garden more easy to maintain (those weeding sessions in high school left a few scars…).
The books I’m sharing with you are all books I have either bought or checked out from the library over the years. Some are old, so if you can find them used, go for it – the information is still just as good now as it was then! These are the books that have made the most difference in my garden life – and they make great gifts for any gardeners (or budding ones) that you know. In no particular order, here are the top books I’ve read and used. (affiliate links ahead…)
13 of My Favorite Gardening Books
Weedless Gardening By Lee Reich
Ah, where would I be without Weedless Gardening? Weeding more, of course. Even though I’ve mentioned this book before, there was no way I could not mention it again – especially because I don’t see it talked about in gardening circles very often. While I don’t do everything in the book, it changed the way I gardened forever. My no-till method was developed using principles from this book and though I still weed it’s not nearly as much as I used to before!
All New Square Foot Garden by Mel Bartholomew
I started out gardening with this book and using raised beds and again, while I don’t do everything now that’s in the book, the raised bed principles found here influenced – and continue to influence – my gardening.
Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens, Patricia Lanza.
This is the other book, along with Weedless Gardening, that encouraged me that you could grow vegetables without losing the seedlings in a sea of weeds – and not spend countless hours trying to free them from those weeds. I have used the layering principals to start both vegetable (and flower beds) and they produce healthy and beautiful produce and flowers. If you’re interested in no-til, easy-care gardening, grab this book (there’s also a small-space-container version, too).
Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte.
Companion planting and organic raised-bed gardening go hand-in-hand (well, along with crop rotation and succession planting – so hand-in-hand-in hand…) and this guide is the classic introduction and reference.
Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan
I loved, loved this book – there is so much information packed in here! I read it from cover to cover when I first got it from the library and it immediately went on my “have to buy list” because I knew I’d want to refer to it again and again. And I have – it opened my mind to all I could accomplish in a small amount of land.
Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals by Gail Damerow
I’ve always had a dream to raise a few different farm animals on our property – I’m not sure I ever will, but if I do, this book provides a great overview as well as some details for the different animals and what they require. This book has so much good do-it-yourself information on all the animals you can raise on small acreages and is another of those books to buy and keep for reference.
Starter Vegetable Gardens by Barbara Pleasant
This author is one of my go-to authors for garden tips and though it’s marketed to beginning gardeners, I found a lot of great tips that I had missed and really like the garden plans, since it gives me ideas for my gardens. If you are just starting , though, this is a great book – you will find most of what you need (like the reviews on Amazon state, too).
A Year Along The Garden Path, Ann Lovejoy
Ah, I have a soft spot for this author since she practically introduced me to the idea that I could create a beautiful garden on a small city lot in Portland with a toddler in tow – even before I had a garden. I read this book like a novel, (as well as her first two books which are out of print now) because she is very real, funny, and shares how she started gardening as a mom with toddlers and what she learned along the way. This book is is one of Anne’s later books that’s packed with garden know-how she gained over the years- luckily with her trademark humor intact.
Growing Vegetables West Of The Cascades, Steve Solomon
This author has so much knowledge about growing vegetables in the maritime Pacific Northwest that I have recommended this book countless times. Because of this book, I dared to plant tomatoes earlier under cover and grow more fall crops. I use the recipe included in this book to make my own organic fertilizer. There’s tons of information in this, so if you live west of the Cascades (or in a maritime climate like ours) this book is a must.
This is a newer version of a Rodale book I read early on my organic gardening path and their books are a trusted resource I still rely on when I have questions. If you’re just starting out or want to change over to organic, this book is full of great information written in a clear manner.
I also use their Garden Problem Solver quite a bit, too. It’s organized by crop, so I can just look up “potatoes” to find out what’s eating the leaves (flea beetles), and what I can do about them (use a row cover in early spring, apply organic control if still around later).
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver
I was so surprised with this book! I’ve only known Barbara as a novelist and I wasn’t sure what to expect from this memoir other than I usually enjoy her writing. This book has stuck with me for years now – it’s very inspiring, showing how we can live eating close to home, the trials and tribulations of growing our own food, and what we can learn about ourselves from living sustainably. Oh, and I found some new vegetable varieties to try, too.
Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers, Maggie Stuckey and Rose Marie Nichols McGee
This book is written by the co-owner of one of my favorite nurseries, Nichols Garden Nursery (which happens to be just north of me in Albany Oregon), so I knew it would be good. There are always room for containers in a gardener’s life and if you’re short of land, this shows how you can grow edible foods in containers successfully. They share the types of containers, how to pack them and what varieties to grow, among other things (like recipes!).
Container Gardening for All Seasons: Enjoy Year-Round Color with 101 Designs, Barbara Wise
I grabbed this book from the library and found it helpful to breath a bit of new life into my flower pots. There are specific plants and diagrams listed, but I have a hard time finding the exact plants for things like this where I live. I was mostly inspired by the combinations and the different colors schemes as well as the way the containers where planted.
What gardening books have you enjoyed?
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links and by clicking on them you help support AOC at no extra cost to you – thanks so much! Plus you can trust I’ll only share what I love. (You can always read our entire disclosure page here.)
Note: this article was originally published in February of 2013 with just 6 books listed. I’ve rewritten it and expanded the list of books to offer more reading for your garden pleasure!