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Gardening Reference Books

April 27th, 2010

I get lots of questions about gardening here on my blog. It’s kind of funny to me because I’m not a gardening expert. I grew up with gardening parents so I absorbed some of their knowledge during my childhood, but I only started gardening in earnest 5-6 years ago. Since then I’ve been reading tons of books about gardening, most of them from the local library. This is where I’ve gained most of my knowledge.

I do have a few that I have purchased that I use frequently as a reference guide for information. If you’re interested in gardening, buying a few good all-around gardening books is a good idea. They will give you quick reference guides for things like: composting, specific plant information, planting guides, and so much more. I bought a copy of Better Homes and Gardens New Garden Book many years ago and it has been an invaluable reference for me.

It’s a huge book, brimming with 600 pages of information on everything from composting and pest control (not organic pest control) and it includes a great amount of information on the culture of specific plants, bulbs and trees. I use this book often when looking up information specific plants or when I’m planting something and I’m not quite sure of the spacing. I do love this book and find myself flipping through it often, if not for information for the lovely photos. If you want to grow a wide variety of things, including edible plants, I’d recommend getting a copy of this book. I guarantee you’ll get your $16 worth out of it!

I have a few other books on my gardening library shelf. A few I’ve read over and over again like:
Midwest Cottage Gardening,
The New City Gardener: Natural Techniques and Necessary Skills for a Successful Urban Garden,
Burpee : The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener : A Guide to Growing Your Garden Organically,
Perennial Combinations: Stunning Combinations That Make Your Garden Look Fantastic Right from the Start ,
and of course my newest addition: The Winter Harvest Handbook which I’ve already read twice.

A few of the books I have are for inspirational purposes:
Stone in the Garden: Inspiring Designs and Practical Projects,
Cottage Garden,
Country Living Cottage Gardens,
and Garden Color (Better Homes & Gardens).

I also have a few on my “must buy” list:


What’s your favorite garden reference book? Any good ones to recommend?

14 Comments to “Gardening Reference Books”
  1. Sense of Home on April 27, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I like “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible” by Smith. But you have an impressive reference shelf.
    .-= Sense of Home´s last blog ..Children’s Bags and Shed Moving and Gardens =-.

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  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Gardening Reference #Books http://goo.gl/fb/J0A7y #gardeningbooks #reading […]

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  3. Alyse on April 27, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I have that Burpee book on my wishlist at Amazon. I’ll buy it eventually but $26 is a little too much to spend when I don’t have a real garden. Just windows.
    Anyway, it got great reviews at Amazon, and here! Another rousing endorsement! :D

    Since I can only grow stuff in containers I like: McGee & Stuckey’s Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey.
    Pretty handy for me.
    .-= Alyse´s last blog ..Horticultural Updation =-.

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  4. Seren Dippity on April 27, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I inherited a ton of gardening books from a friend. They are older, published in the 70s, but still good basic references. I love all the Rodale books: _The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening_, _Rodale’s Garden Problem Solver_ and _Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs_ are my go to books. _The New Seed Starter’s Handbook_ by Nancy Bubel has been extremely helpful. For inspiration I loved _Gaia’s Garden_ and I am looking forward to Rosalind Creasy’s new book _Edible Landscaping_ because her website shows such beautiful gardens.

    One reference that is critical to me is Howard Garrett’s _Texas Gardening the Natural Way_ and his other books are great too. I think it is especially helpful to have a book about the conditions you yourself are gardening in. I LOVE Solomon’s _Gardening When it Counts_, but his experience is with the Northwest and New Zealand (I think?) some of that just isn’t going to work in Texas. Many things that more northern gardeners cope with doesn’t apply and so many books ignore information that I critically need. I think that information specific to your area is extremely important.

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  5. Throwback at Trapper Creek on April 27, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Anything Steve Solomon has written, and Shep Ogden’s (Cook’s Garden) Straight Ahead Organic Gardening are good ones. I like Eliot Coleman and am heartened to read he is realizing that having livestock manure from a reliable source (your own) is a more sustainable way to approach vegetable gardening.
    .-= Throwback at Trapper Creek´s last blog ..Chick list =-.

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  6. Amy on April 27, 2010 at 11:40 am

    The Good Life by Scott and Helen Nearing
    Any: Carla Emery
    Crockett’s Victory Garden(wonderful for succession planting and when to plant)
    The New Organic Grower by Coleman
    The Shaker Garden
    The Essential Gardener(my first gardening book….I have had it for over 25 years)
    The Maine Farm(for pictures and ideas)

    These are just a few but my favorites…

    Reply to Amy's comment

    • Susy on April 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm

      I just got ‘The Maine Farm’ from the library this morning, can’t wait to read it. And somehow I have never read ‘The Good Life’ although I’ve always wanted to.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. melissa on April 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Because our growing season is so radically different from most of the country (or at least the parts of the country for which gardening books are written), most gardening literature is pretty useless for me. Thankfully a local master gardener wrote a book specifically for organic fruit/vegetable gardening in the Houston area and it’s been a huge help. http://www.urbanharvest.org/resources/yearroundveg.html
    .-= melissa´s last blog ..a day of food victory =-.

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  8. Morgan G on April 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Shouting from the rooftops for anyone living in a Mediterranean climate: Pat Welsh’s Guide to Southern California Organic Gardening. Practical advice, checklists and simple tips organized by month.
    .-= Morgan G´s last blog ..Basic Needs Summer Speaker/Film Series =-.

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  9. mamaraby on April 27, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I absolutely adore “Guide to Wisconsin Vegetable Gardening” by James Fizzell. If I could only have one gardening book this one would be it! Of course…if you don’t live in Wisconsin it’s probably not all that helpful.
    .-= mamaraby´s last blog ..Tiptoe Through the Tulips =-.

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  10. MAYBELLINE on April 27, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Sunset Western Garden Book is my bible.
    Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening is another book I use regularly.

    Your site is an excellent source for gardening information. You may not have been gardening long; but you can put the information together and make it useable.

    Thank you.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood =-.

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    • Susy on April 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm

      Thanks Maybelline – you’re always so complimentary!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Sara on April 28, 2010 at 9:35 am

    I really like:
    Growing Herbs and Vegetables : From Seed to Harvest,
    by Silber and Silber

    It’s one of those books I got out of the library 5 times and realized I had to own it. Lots of good information on starting from seed and saving seeds, organic production, and it’s beautiful to look at as well. They are based in Maine, I think, so it’s fairly applicable to those in Northern/midwest climates.

    I also have an old reader’s digest book that is much like your BH&G (only less attractive) in that it’s good for general reference about just about any ornamental.

    Oh and our county extension has TONS of great reference materials, mostly available on-line as searchable PDF files (very handy). I use those a lot too :)

    And mamaraby, thanks for that WI book tip–I’m putting that one on my hold list. Lots of good suggestions here.
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Blossoms =-.

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  12. […] For more on my Gardening Library: chiotsrun.com/2010/04/27/gardening-reference-books/ […]

    Reply to Lastest The Organic Gardeners Handbook News | doityourselflawn.com's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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