This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

books for beginning gardeners?

Does anyone have a good book to recommend for a beginning gardener? I got a nice email from Julie who is planning to start a garden and is looking for a good resource.

Hey Kathy, I'm fairly new to gardening and I'm feeling a little confused about where to start learning about it. I plan to start a garden this spring in my parents backyard and I'm trying to educate myself on the basics of this subject as fast as possible. Don't want to totally mess it up :) Could you recommend any sources to study? If you could only use one book on gardening what would that be for you? ps. I'm planning on raising edible foods in my garden



Blogger K said...

If I had to pick just one book, it would be "The Garden Primer" by Barbara Damrosch, but it's not really a true beginners book.

If Julie is looking for a very basic beginners book, I just read "Food Grown Right, In Your Backyard: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Crops at Home" by Colin McCrate & Brad Helm. It's a very good basic beginners book (just ignore their advise on drip irrigation).

However, most public libraries have decent gardening sections, so taking a few books out and seeing what works for Julie and her particular garden might be the best choice - then she can buy the books that work for her.

April 19, 2013 11:28 AM

Blogger LinLos said...

For books, I recommend You Grow Girl and Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail.
However, if she can find blogs by gardeners in her area doing the same type of gardening as she wants to do, these resources are way more valuable than books. Regional bloggers talk about the kinds of things beginning gardeners really need to know - soil quality, weather, timing, pests, and which varieties grow best in those regional conditions.
Good luck!

April 19, 2013 11:43 AM

Blogger Holly Brown said...

For beginner edible gardeners, I suggest Grow Vegetables by Alan Buckingham with Jo Whittingham, Consultant (2008). It is packed with images, shows you the basics, and then lists a large variety of vegetables and for each it gives a description, where to plant it, when to plant it, how to seed and harvest, and possible pests and diseases. It has other sections on herbs, companion planting, eco gardening, and what to do if something goes wrong. Its an easy clear read that you can keep going back to as a dictionary-like resource. Its a joy to look at since the photography is wonderful. Its 19.95 US, 22.95 Can.

Good luck and happy Gardening Julie!

April 19, 2013 11:46 AM

Anonymous Matt said...

I started with The Vegetable Gardener's Bible a few years back. Lots of pictures with the pros and cons of different ways to set up your beds.

April 19, 2013 1:23 PM

Blogger Nichole said...

I really liked Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens by Patricia Lanza. Its a great way to start gardening and ease into the learning process. I've found too much info too soon can burn you out really quick, especially if your not seeing results.

April 19, 2013 5:12 PM

Blogger Mike Davis said...

I agree with "k" that Damrosch's "The Garden Primer" is excellent, especially the later edition that's all organic. The one I buy most often for friends, though, is Lee Reich's "Weedless Gardening." It's not nearly as complete a reference, but it's SO good at helping beginners avoid some of the common mistakes that can be discouraging in the long run. I recommend both, together with "Four Season Harvest" by Damrosch's husband, Eliot Coleman, and Robert Kourik's "Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally."

April 19, 2013 8:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, there are so many good ones. I'd recommend "Bountiful Container" which covers everything and it nice and compact.

April 20, 2013 11:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, you might want to check out the 5 x 5 Challenge which, according to its website, was started to encourage people to discover the joy of edible gardening( I am not associated with it.

April 20, 2013 12:26 PM

Anonymous Joe said...

The best I've found is "The Self-Sufficient Gardener" by John Seymour. A newer printing was released under the name "The New Self-Sufficient Gardener", but it's the exact same book. It's written in such a way that it's a pleasure to just sit down and start reading, while at the same time being a convenient reference material if you just want to look something up real quick. John Seymour prefers the deep bed method, but the book gives all the instructions for more traditional gardening as well.

April 20, 2013 4:52 PM

Blogger Heather said...

If you're a total beginner, I'd recommend The All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Everything is laid out step by step in easy-for-beginner language. It was priceless when I started my veggie garden five years ago. Most libraries have a copy. Check it out!

April 20, 2013 6:13 PM

Blogger Vanessa said...

I also think that the Vegetable Gardeners Bible is a great place to start. It also is a book I reference all the time for the plant specs in the second half of the book.

April 20, 2013 9:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like The Vegetable Gardener's Bible and Weedless Gardening, both suggested by other commenters. I would also suggest Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.

April 20, 2013 9:32 PM

Blogger Karla said...

One of my favorites was The 20 Minute Gardener because it made me realize that I can enjoy a garden even if I don't have time to be perfect at it.

April 21, 2013 8:38 AM

Blogger David Velten said...

Vegetable Gardener's Bible as a general reference and the New Square Foot Gardening for a method that is easy for new gardeners.

April 21, 2013 7:06 PM

Blogger Rachel said...

I keep referring back to Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham. It has good growing basics and talks a lot about combining annual flowers in vegetable beds for beneficial insects.Lots of good photos of what a "real" vegetable garden looks like. One of the best books I've found for perennial gardening is Tracy DiSabato-Aust The Well Tended Perennial Garden-Planting and Pruning Techniques.

April 23, 2013 6:44 PM

Blogger Kathy Shackelford said...

I agree with Heather. The square foot gardening book is very helpful.

April 26, 2013 10:46 AM


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