Vegetable gardening is a great way to save money on produce while also enjoying the freshest and most delicious vegetables, fruits, and herbs. If you’re planning to start your very first vegetable garden this year, here are 10 great books to help you get started:
1. Smith, Ed – The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible
One of the best general vegetable gardening guides ever written. Simple and straightforward information laid out in an organized and easy-to-follow format, with lots of pictures. The book advocates the W-O-R-D system – Wide rows, Organic methods, Raised beds, and Deep soil – but it’s an excellent reference even if you don’t follow that advice to the letter. For balcony and patio gardeners, Ed Smith has also written an excellent guide to vegetable gardening in containers: The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers.
2. Kujawski, Jennifer and Ron – The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook
Suitable for all gardening zones, this super-helpful book breaks down gardening tasks week-by-week throughout the year based on your region’s average last frost date to help you plan, prepare, plant, tend, and harvest your vegetable garden. (Find your last frost date here.)
3. Pleasant, Barbara – Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens
If you’re nervous about planning your first garden, this book offers 24 detailed three year plans that will help you start small and simple and work your way up to larger and more advanced gardens, while teaching the basics of good garden design and planning along the way.
4. Bartholomew, Mel – Square Foot Gardening
This classic gardening book has been teaching people how to get more food out of less space for decades. Although it occasionally reads a little like an infomercial, this book is one of the most popular gardening books ever written for good reason: square foot gardening works!
5. Hill, Lewis and Leonard Perry – The Fruit Gardener’s Bible: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruits and Nuts in the Home Garden
While many popular garden vegetables are quite easy to grow (some, like zucchini, terrifyingly so), fruit can be a little trickier. If your mouth waters at the prospect of homegrown strawberries, blueberries, apples, or pears, it’s helpful to have a little extra help in the form of a specialty fruit gardening book. The Fruit Gardener’s Bible is an excellent and comprehensive choice that will introduce you to the mysteries of topics such as pruning, espalier, and chill hours.
6. Smith, Miranda – Your Backyard Herb Garden
There are few things tastier than food made with fresh herbs, but fresh herbs are often outrageously expensive at the grocery store. Luckily, most herbs are pretty easy to grow (much easier than fruit), but if you’d like a guidebook to help you get the most out of your herb garden, this is a great choice. It not only explains the proper planting, cultivation, and harvesting of herbs, but also has a lot of information abut what you can do with them, from cooking and medicinal use to crafts and gifts.
7. Campbell, Stu – Let It Rot!
Improving your soil will result in happier, healthier, and more productive plants, and one of the best ways to build better soil is by composting. This excellent starter guide will introduce you to different methods of composting and how to use the finished product for maximum effectiveness.
8. Fell, Derek – Vertical Gardening
Gardening in small spaces such as city backyards can be a special challenge, and with this book Derek Fell teaches you one of the secrets of maximizing space in a small garden: vertical gardening! Many popular garden vegetables, including cucumbers, green beans, and tomatoes, will grow quite happily on trellises and other vertical structures, allowing precious square footage to be used for pickier plants.
9. Bradley, Fern Marshall, Ellis, Barbara W., and Deborah L. Martin – The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control
An encyclopedic guide to pests and diseases that may affect your plants and how to treat them organically, without resorting to chemicals that may be harmful to the environment or dangerous for families with young children or pets.
10. Coleman, Eliot – Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long
Once you’ve got the hang of the basics, you may want to start expanding your skills by growing fresh produce year-round. This classic work by market gardener and farmer Eliot Coleman explains how home gardeners in cold climates can use cold frames and tunnel greenhouses to extend the growing season. Coleman’s other works The New Organic Grower and The Winter Harvest Handbook are also highly recommended.
What are your favorite gardening books for beginners?
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