I mentioned in yesterday’s post, 5 Ways To Improve Your Gardening Skills and Knowledge, that reading was a good way to improve your overall knowledge about growing your own vegetables. I would like to take the time to share with you my favorite gardening books that I read during the winter. Most of these books are favorites of many gardeners, and they are surely going to give you a lot of knowledge and advice towards becoming a more successful vegetable gardener.
Some people may ask, “Why read about gardening during the winter?”. Well, it is my opinion that the winter is the best time to catch up on reading, and possibly delve into a subject that you are interested in learning more about. Plus, reading my favorite gardening books during the winter keeps my anticipation about the upcoming coming season at an all time high!
Here are my ten favorite vegetable gardening books:
- The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible (10th Anniversary Edition) – This book is filled with easy step-by-step instructions, full color pages, and vegetable profiles for just about every vegetable imaginable.Ed’s system is based on W-O-R-D: Wide rows, Organic methods, Raised beds, Deep soil. With deep, raised beds, vegetable roots have more room to grow and expand. In traditional narrow-row beds, over half the soil is compacted into walkways while a garden with wide, deep, raised beds, plants get to use most of the soil. In Ed’s plan, growing space gets about three-quarters of the garden plot and only about a quarter is used for the walkway. Ed teaches you how to create raised beds both in a larger garden or in separate planked beds. One of the most important–and most often overlooked–aspects of successful vegetable gardening is crop rotation. Leaving a crop in the same place for years can deplete nutrients in that area and makes the crop more likely to be attacked by insects. Rotate at least every two years and your vegetables will be healthier and bug-free. There’s also a good section on insect and blight control.
- The Veggie Gardener’s Answer Book – In this latest addition to Storey’s popular Answer Book series, veteran horticulturist and gardener Ellis uses the straightforward Q&A format to furnish pithy responses to the most basic, as well as the most esoteric, gardening questions. From the simple sowing of seeds to the complexities of crop rotation to the benefits of organic pest control, Ellis demystifies essential cultural techniques and practices, and profiles more than 20 popular garden crops. Helpful sidebars offer tips on such critical topics as weeding and harvesting, while appendixes cover crop-planting guidelines and a state-by-state breakdown of growing seasons. As global warming and natural disasters continue to impact the availability and affordability of commercially produced vegetables, the merits of growing one’s own food become increasingly important. Knowing what to do, and when and how to do it, is made abundantly clear in Ellis’ handy, quick-reference guide. –Carol Haggas
- The Truth About Garden Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why – With graduate degrees in entomology and horticulture, Gillman brings scientific rigor to the topic of commercial, homemade and ‘traditional’ garden remedies. … Never didactic or preachy, Gillman takes pleasure in testing techniques for treating plants and urges readers to ‘divide off a section of plants in your garden just for experimenting and have fun with them.’ Gillman teaches gardeners to think about what they do, know why they’re doing it, and observe the results, trusting their knowledge and experience over claims made by companies, ‘experts’ or garden folklorists. We found it highly entertaining to browse through the book, enjoying Dr. Gillman’s frequently humorous presentations of both common and strange ideas. — Greg and Pat Williams HortIdeas 20060301
- The Complete Compost Gardening Guide – When heaping mounds of garden debris just sit there like so much, well, garbage, many frustrated garden composters bemoan their lack of success and throw in the old pitchfork. Some worry about becoming a slave to elaborate, multiplex bins requiring heavy maintenance, while others fret over locating a compost pile where it won’t draw the ire of neighbors. Based on their own trial-and-error experiences, the authors calm the fears that can wriggle through gardeners’ psyches like so many burrowing earthworms. Writing in an easygoing, conversational style, the authors introduce such novel practices as underground composting and vermicomposting. Including critical safety tips, indispensable tool recommendations, and extensive guidelines for compostable materials, this comprehensive how-to will persuade novices to give composting a try, and offer accomplished composters ingenious new methods for creating healthy gardens. –Carol Haggas
- All New Square Foot Gardening – Best-selling author, Mel Bartholomew was an engineer by profession and a gardener by weekend. Using his engineering expertise, he developed a system that yields 100% of the harvest in 20% of the space. Mel’s method gained popularity and ultimately he converted millions of gardeners world-wide to his Square Foot method. The Square Foot Gardening titles have sold more than 2 million copies.
- Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening –
This gardening classic was first published in 1975, and now a second generation of gardeners who prefer pest-resistant planning to chemicals will find a place for it on the shelves. Not only does it tell what to plant with what, but also how to use herbal sprays to control insects, what wild plants to encourage in the garden, how to grow fruit and nut trees, how to start small plots or window-box gardens, and much more. It’s one of the most practical books around for any gardener of edibles, no matter how serious or casual.
- Giant Tomatoes – Giant Tomatoes is the first book on tomatoes that deals exclusively with growing tomatoes for size and yield. Thirty-one chapters and an abundant appendix covers everything on growing big tomatoes. Whether you re competing with yourself, your neighbor, or at a local, regional, or national competition, Giant Tomatoes will put you on a level playing field with the best tomato growers in the world. This book covers everything! Marvin Meisner takes you step-by-step through the intricacies of selecting varieties, preparing soil, fertilizing, watering, pollinating, pruning, and more plus, the secret of every successful, competitive giant tomato grower the megabloom! This is the most comprehensive treatment ever written on giant tomatoes. — Don Langevin, Author of How-to-Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins
- Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver – With a wealth of information and tested advice, this problem-solving treasure gives gardeners every-thing they need to do battle with garden pests, diseases, and weeds—with safe, natural solutions. Combining a troubleshooting approach with encyclopedic coverage and drawing on the most up-to-date research on biological and non- or low-toxic controls, Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver features:
- more than 60 vegetables, organized alphabetically from asparagus to zucchini
- individual pest entries on the 30 most common insect pests and how to combat them
- individual disease entries on the 30 most common vegetable plant diseases—including symptoms and causes and ways to keep plants disease-free
- a problem-solving approach to such favorite gardening topics as seed-starting, soil, weather, watering, crop rotation, fertilizing, transplanting, and season extension
- “Beyond the Basics” sidebars for those willing to go the extra mile to eradicate a problem in the garden in a safe and natural way
With numerous tips on prevention so gardeners can spend less time putting out fires and focus instead on producing higher-yielding and more attractive gardens, this will quickly become the trusted companion of every vegetable gardener.
- The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food – Denckla’s guide to growing organic food covers 765 varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and nuts. There are instructions on temperature, soil and water needs, planting depth and space between plants, propagation, harvesting, first and last seed-starting dates, storage requirements, and support structures when needed. With each entry is a list of selected available varieties. Denckla also tells gardeners how to control 201 pests and diseases organically.
- Let it Rot!: The Gardener’s Guide to Composting – A readable, quietly humorous introduction to composting, this covers reasons to compost; differing approaches; how decomposition works; various methods, ingredients, and containers; how to speed decomposition; and how to use the end result. Campbell is an experienced gardener, and the book goes into great detail, but the text remains clear and interesting. The simple black-and-white illustrations vary between decorative sketches and straightforward diagrams; they could have been more frequent and more informative. The bibliography lists 14 other books on composting; a list of sources of composting supplies is also given. An interesting treatment of a basic subject for general readers, this is recommended for all gardening collections needing material on compost heaps.
I hope that you enjoy this list of my favorite vegetable gardening books to read during the winter (or any time of the year). If you are interested in some other gardening books that I enjoy, please check out 3 Must Read Vegetable Gardening Books.
I would be grateful if you shared your favorite gardening books as well. Feel free to leave a link!