I love to read as much as I love to garden, so naturally, I’m a fan of gardening books. I have a solid little collection that's continually growing. My library is filled with books new and old, gifted and purchased, and ones that have been roughed up and stained from outdoor use. When I first buy a gardening book, I usually read it cover to cover, then tuck it away for safekeeping in my a cabinet where I keep all my gardening books.
I always find myself checking back to each volume, whether it’s in the depth of winter and I need some inspiration to tide me over until the spring, or I’m in the planning stages and need to brush up on some gardening info.
In an age where Google offers quick answers, why bother with gardening books? I like to have all my information in one place, and I don’t need to be by a computer to find out what I want. Another bonus: I won't ruin my phone with dirt-stained fingers.
I can bring books outside even if the Wi-Fi is spotty and I can lend books to friends and family. Gardening books offer carefully curated knowledge and are always available even when the internet is down.
Below, I’ve gathered a list of my favorite gardening books. Whether you’re a beginner gardener or a more seasoned plant-lover, there’s a book for you on this list.
Vegetable Gardening Books:
All New Square Foot Gardening 3rd Edition by Mel Bartholomew
This was the very first gardening book I ever purchased. I was so attracted to the visual aesthetic of the SFG method that it won me over straight away. Since then, I’ve become a Certified Square Foot Gardening Instructor, held SFG workshops, and staffed educational booths to demonstrate the benefits and advantages of the method.
All New Square Foot Gardening, which has since been updated and is now in its 3rd edition, is perfect for beginner and advanced gardeners alike. Chapters cover gardening basics and specific SFG-related topics like spacing. I love that the book includes tons of photos and reference material, too.
The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith
The Vegetable Gardener's Bible is an excellent all-around informational companion. The in-depth guide is useful for beginner and intermediate gardeners alike, and the pages contain a wealth of information.
The Market Gardener by Jean Martin-Fortier and Severine von Tscharner Fleming
This is another of my top rifled-through garden books. Pages are dog eared and stained, but that’s because I’m always toting it around. I love The Market Gardener for its zone-specific information (Zone 5), and for how organized it is. You don’t need to be a Zone 5 gardener to use this book, though.
Jean-Martin Fortier includes a great deal of info that’s applicable elsewhere, too. You don’t need to be a farmer, either, to benefit from reading this. The book skews towards those who are interested in profiting from their growing efforts, but I still found plenty of practical advice I could apply to my small front-yard garden.
The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan
The Backyard Homestead is a useful overview of information from gardening to keeping chickens that encourages readers to live a sustainable life. I still don’t have chickens and my husband is still apprehensive every time I mention beekeeping, but I find myself inspired every time I flip through this book.
The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman
This is a book for both home and market gardeners that contains so much useful information. Eliot Coleman is well-known in the gardening world, and I trust his wisdom. If you’re interested in organic growing, The New Organic Grower is a must-have for your bookshelf.
The Urban Farmer by Curtis Allen Stone
I’m intrigued by Curtis Stone’s urban farming initiatives. I’ve listened to him guest on various podcasts, and he’s a practical, no-nonsense individual. If you’re considering for-profit, small-scale farming, I think The Urban Farmer is an excellent starter reference. His website and Facebook group offer plenty of info, too.
Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell
I bought the Kindle version of this book a few years back, and I was not disappointed. At the time, vertical gardening was all-the-rage and becoming ever more popular. I could find little practical information online, and Vertical Gardening provided easy to follow advice for growing up instead of out. I never thought I’d be able to grow everything I wanted in a small space, but vertical gardening came to the rescue.
Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte
Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening is a short book that helps demystify companion planting. Although you can find companion planting info online, I like having a book around just in case.
The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook by Jennifer Kujawski and Ron Kujawski
If you buy any of the books on this list, buy The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook: Make the Most of Your Growing Season. I use it EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. I’ve marked it up, made notes, and I keep coming back to it to help me plan my gardening season.
Mark in your frost dates, and the guide helps you organize your planting schedule and reminds you to perform other garden-related tasks. It’s not only a calendar-type guide, though. Throughout the handbook, there are also sections that include planting tips and tricks. I’ve gotten SO much out of this book and learned a great deal, too.
Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway
Permaculture is still a topic I’m learning about every season. I’m continually learning to work with Mother Nature because it makes my life easier. Gaia’s Garden explores small-scale permaculture solutions and discusses topics in-depth.
Sepp Holzer's Permaculture by Sepp Holzer
Renown gardener Sepp Holzer offers a practical, easy-to-follow book that is perfect for the permaculture newbie. Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening is not too technical, and his tips and photos can help anyone get started.
Permaculture: A Designers' Manual by Bill Mollison
This book is the permaculture bible. If you are just getting started, it might be too technical, but Permaculture: A Designer's Manual is essential reading if you are ready to get serious about the practice.
Cold Climate Gardening Books:
The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour
Another one of my first gardening books is The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener. It’s the first book that introduced me to the concept of winter gardening. Who knew that it was possible to harvest greens in the dead of winter!
I’ve learned so much from this book that I’m still slowly incorporating the knowledge I’ve acquired each season. Growing in the cold doesn’t have to be hard. I also recommend following Nikki Jabour on Instagram, because her garden is genuinely magnificent.
The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman
This is another Eliot Coleman tome for your perusal. I like The Winter Harvest Handbook because of its focus on cold-climate gardening. When I started gardening, there was little information out there about growing in my climate.
So many gardening books focused on warm regions like California where growers can plant all-year-round. These days, there’s a lot more info out there for northern gardeners. Still, Coleman’s book remains one of the best to this day.
Backyard Winter Gardening by Caleb Warnock
Backyard Winter Gardening: Vegetables Fresh and Simple, in Any Climate, Without Artificial Heat or Electricity – The Way It's Been Done for 2,000 Years is, as you might have guessed, all about farming in colder climates without electricity. Full of tried-and-true advice from people who have been growing this way for centuries, it's a handy addition for those who long for a winter harvest.
Raised Bed & Small Space Gardening:
The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible by Edward C. Smith
I purchased The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers as a reference when I was teaching container gardening to groups of seniors a few years back. It makes an excellent guide that both the students and I appreciate. My favorite part? The fantastic photographs are full of inspiring container gardens.
Raised Bed Revolution by Tara Nolan
I love Raised Bed Revolution because I’m a huge fan of raised bed gardens. The soil is my area is crappy, and the no-dig method of raised beds speaks to the lazy side of me, although it involves more work than you’d think. Filling boxes with soil is a back-breaking task, but the result is really something. The book includes guidelines on how to build boxes and plenty of amazing photos for inspiration.
Plant-Specific Gardening Books:
Idiot’s Guide to Succulents by Cassidy Tuttle
I love succulents, but they don't love me. I’ve killed many succulents over the years, which is odd because they’re supposed to be easy to raise. The Idiot's Guide to Succulents is a no-nonsense guide perfect for plant parents who want to successfully raise succulents.
Epic Tomatoes by Craig LeHoullier
I enjoy tomatoes, but I’m not crazy about them as other people are. Growing them, though, is pretty fun. Epic Tomatoes: How to Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time is part tomato growing guide and part story. It explores different tomato varieties, many of which I’ve become fond of in my garden. Whether you’re a fan of tomatoes or you’re looking for a quick gardening-related read, Epic Tomatoes is a book I recommend.
Your Backyard Herb Garden by Miranda Smith
If you are interested in herbs, Your Backyard Herb Garden: A Gardener's Guide to Growing, Using and Enjoying Herbs is essential reading. It gives an overview of many different herbs, plus how to use them. It also helps you plan your herb garden for maximum use.
Various Gardening Books:
Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth
Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners is pretty much the only book you need for learning about seed saving. It’s a comprehensive guide that’s worth sitting down and reading cover to cover. It’s a lot of information, especially for those new to seed saving, but it’s got all you need to start on your seed saving journey.
The Seed Garden by Lee Buttala and Shanyn Siegel
The Seed Garden has info for beginners and experts alike. It has beautiful photos and is packed full of practical advice. It covers a wide range of veggies and is particularly useful for people interested in preserving heirloom seeds.
Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison
Vegetable Literacy is a gorgeous cookbook that includes suggestions for cooking the plethora of vegetables harvested from a kitchen garden. I collect cookbooks, and this was a treat to flip through.
Indoor Gardening Books:
How Not to Kill Your Houseplant by Veronica Peerless
If you’re anything like me, you find indoor gardening tougher than outdoor gardening. Mother Nature isn’t around to help you water your plants, and it’s easy to forget that plants need to drink to live. My forgetfulness has killed many-a-houseplant. How Not to Kill Your Houseplant: Survival Tips for the Horticulturally Challenged aims to help you be a better indoor plant parent.
Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening by Peter Burke
Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening: How to Grow Nutrient-Dense, Soil-Sprouted Greens in Less Than 10 Days is a helpful guide for growing salad greens indoors. It's easy to follow and full of useful info. There’s also a few recipes, so you’re not scrambling to figure out what to do with all your greens once they’re harvested!
The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual by Barbara Pleasant
If you struggle to keep your houseplants alive or want to make the ones you do have happier, The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual: Essential Know-How for Keeping (Not Killing) More Than 160 Indoor Plants is invaluable. It has tips on how to care for 160 different indoor plants. It also has tips on repotting, what kind of different soils plants need, and even a section on how to identify plants you may have inherited.
Flower Garden Books
Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein and Julie Chai
I’m not a flower gardener, but Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms has almost changed my mind. I first started growing cut flowers in my garden when I randomly sprinkled zinnia seeds around my driveway. The gorgeous pom-pom flowers kept coming as I cut them, and I was sold. I still don’t have a meadow of flowers, but I’m much less intimidated by flower growing. It’s a beautiful book for home gardeners looking to add cut flowers to the mix.
Vegetables Love Flowers by Lisa Mason Ziegler
Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty teaches you how to combine flowers and veggies for a bountiful harvest. You'll get a good idea of how to start a cut flower garden around your vegetables so that you can have a gorgeous bouquet on your table while you eat that fresh kale salad.
The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski
If you're interested in moving beyond a decorative flower garden to one filled with flowers you can harvest and sell, The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers is the perfect book for you. It teaches you all about the domestic flower business to get you on your way.
Second Nature by Michael Pollan
Second Nature changed my views about weeds and unwanted garden creatures. It’s a quick, easy read, and, in my opinion, it’s the best of Pollan’s writings.
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
The Hidden Life of Trees looks at the original social network and how trees are really like a human family. It's a fascinating exploration of something we take for granted that will change the way you see the world around you.
Did we forget your favorite from this list? Let us know in the comments below.
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