Saturday, August 19, 2006

My Recommendations for Gardening Books

General gardening books that I recommend are listed below. These are not in order of priority, but just listed as they occurred to me:

* For beginners and others: Mel Bartholomew, 'Square Foot
Gardening'. Very valuable for beginners; I like the older book better than his newer one, which is called 'The All-New Square Foot Gardening'. If you get the older book, be sure to check his website as well: he has changed some of his recommendations. One change is substantial and makes the whole thing a lot less work, as he used to recommend that you dig down into the ground and now recommends building specially-mixed soil up on top of the ground (much easier):

* For container gardening: McGee and Stuckey, 'Bountiful Container'. If you want to grow edibles in containers, buy this one for sure!

* For season extension: Eliot Coleman, 'Four Season Harvest'. Indispensable unless you live in a four-season gardening area. It tells you how to harvest fresh veggies through fall and into winter.

* For general knowing what to do and when to do it: 'The New Victory Garden', Bob Thomson.

* For starting seeds: Nancy Bubel, 'The New Seed Starter's Handbook'. Another indispensable book.

* For the wonderful world of Asian vegetables: Joy Larkcom, 'Oriental Vegetables'. And yet another indispensable book!

* For growing culinary herbs: Amanda Smith, 'Your Backyard Herb Garden'. No mystical herb arcana, just how to grow them and how to use them, a very nice book.

* For general knowledge of herbs: 'Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs'. I do not like this book, I don't like the way it is written, but I don't know of any other one that I like better that covers so many herbs.

* For high productivity in a small space: John Jeavons, 'How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine'. Jeavons advocates biodynamic gardening, which is a very productive method. This is a somewhat technically-written book, probably good for ex-computer people, engineers, etc. I use it too: it has figures on yields that I like.

*Fairly decent book with some good suggestions: Marjorie Hunt and Brenda Bortz, 'High-Yield Gardening'.

*For people who want to be inspired and love to read about gardening: Sylvia Thompson, 'The Kitchen Garden'.

*For seed saving plus some growing directions: Suzanne Ashworth, 'Seed to Seed'. Another indispensable book. Get the second edition, the first edition doesn't have the growing info.

*For diagnosing and coping with insects and diseases: Roger P. Yepsen, Jr., Editor, 'The Encyclopedia of Natural Insect and Disease Control' (published by Rodale Press).

I have all these books, plus quite a few more. But the ones above are the ones I think are really important.

You can buy almost all of them quite cheaply, used of course, and some of them are very cheap now. I use Amazon, or a book search engine: ( ) to locate the cheapest available copy. I've bought some really excellent books for less than a dollar, way less sometimes. I still must pay the shipping, darn it. 'Seed to Seed' is probably expensive even used, possibly a few more are expensive too. But mostly these should be very cheap.

Or you can get them on Inter-Library Loan, hopefully, from your public library. I often do this to evaluate a book before I spend money on it; then I can decide if I want to buy it or not.

If you can get hold of copies of the *old* 'Organic Gardening' magazine, pre-1990 or thereabouts, they are invaluable. The magazine of today is useless, IMHO. Sometimes sets of old ones are sold on Ebay.

If you want to make a 'trial run' at growing all your own food, get some of the pamphlets here:

Specific recommendations for pamphlets, etc., are on my blog, located here:


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