The Best Gardening Books for Starting an Edible Garden

Whether they’re the favorites of the local farmers market or just growing the juiciest tomatoes on the block, every successful gardener has started somewhere. Some have likely been fortunate to have access to communal gardening resources – a grandfather, an aunt, a neighbor who can act as a mentor and share knowledge gained through years of experience. But for those who don’t know anyone who can provide serious insights into horticulture (or who want to complement that advice), books are your best resource.

While creating a beginner’s guide to growing your own food, I spoke to Ashlie Thomas, an organic gardener and educator who runs the Instagram @ the.mocha.gardener; Nick Storrs, instructor at the New York Botanical Gardens and owner of Homegrown Kitchen Gardens; and Lee Reich, author and lecturer in organic horticulture with a PhD in horticulture. Not only do the three offer a wealth of information for the inexperienced, they also share some of their favorite gardening and horticulture books – which they keep recommending as resources for people interested in growing their own food. Some are technical reference books, others are garden-oriented cookbooks that can help you use all of these home grown greens in your kitchen. Below are their recommendations.

Grow Cook Nourish by Darina Allen

“This book will help you grow what you will actually eat,” says Thomas. Darina Allen’s extensive tome combines technical knowledge of growing various fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other edible plants with over 500 recipes that will teach you how to cook and serve your reward. Allen contains comprehensive information on growing conditions, planting times, heirloom varieties and fertilizer instructions for each important vegetable. “Often times people don’t think gardening is practical or relevant to their lives – this book bridges the gap between growing your own products and using those products in real life.”

Grow Cook Nourish: A Kitchen Garden Companion in 500 Recipes

The story goes on

$ 23.00, Amazon


Luring Useful Pests into Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control, by Jessica Walliser

Thomas recommends two books by gardener Jessica Walliser for beginners and experienced gardeners who take organic farming seriously. Walliser’s book Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden won a 2015 American Horticultural Society award for helpful insights into natural defense against invasive pests by promoting the presence of pollinators and helpful carnivores in the garden. This book is especially useful for organic gardeners looking for ways to prevent bugs from eating their crops without the use of pesticides.

Recover Useful Insects for Your Garden, Second Edition: A Natural Approach to Pest Control

$ 28.00, Amazon


Container Gardening Complete: Creative projects for growing vegetables and flowers in a small space, by Jessica Walliser

Thomas also likes Walliser’s book on container gardening, which is perfect for people who live in apartments with little green space to build on. The book contains 20 different projects based on upcycled materials for growing herbs, vegetables and flowers in a confined space.

Container Gardening Complete: Creative projects for growing vegetables and flowers in a small space

$ 17.00, Amazon


Tender Vol I: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater

Nigel Slater is a British cookbook author best known for his simple, mostly vegetarian recipes that celebrate seasonal produce. Tender is probably his main work with two volumes and over 1,200 pages with recipes, essays, growing tips and more. The first volume focuses on 29 different vegetables and offers over 100 recipes. It includes suggestions as to which varieties to grow, as well as basic flavor combinations and cooking tips for each vegetable.

Tender: a cook and his vegetable patch

$ 28.00, Amazon


The new organic breeder from Eliot Coleman

Both Storrs and Reich support this classic, which has been updated twice since 1989 and is considered by many to be an indispensable addition to any gardener’s library. Coleman is a leading figure in the smallholder organic farming movement in the United States, and his book gives novice gardeners an insight into organic practices for year-round growing produce. The book is aimed at people who want to build and operate small farms, but the information is just as useful for those who want to grow food for themselves. Find chapters on soil fertility, crop rotation, sowing, pest control and more.

The New Organic Grower, 3rd Edition: A Master’s Handbook of Tools and Techniques for Home and Market Gardeners, 30th Anniversary Edition

$ 22.00, Amazon


The Truth About Organic Horticulture by Jeff Gillman

Even among seasoned growers, misinformation about organic horticulture can circulate that is impractical at best and dangerous at worst. For this reason, Reich recommends this book by Jeff Gillman, a horticultural professor at the University of Minnesota. In his book, Gillman discusses fads like compost tea and how pesticides labeled as organic aren’t necessarily safer or less harmful to the environment.

The Truth About Organic Horticulture: Pros, Cons, And The Bottom Line

$ 14.00, Amazon


Weedless Gardening and The Pruning Book, by Lee Reich

Reich has used his expertise to write a number of books himself. For novice gardeners, he recommends Weedless Gardening, a handy weed control guide that doesn’t rely on the use of chemical agents and instead focuses on minimizing soil movement and other practical techniques. He also suggests his book on Pruning, which is a methodical reference book for pruning trees, shrubs, flowers, houseplants, and more.

Weed-free gardening

$ 11.00, Amazon


The cutting book: Completely revised and updated

$ 17.00, Amazon


Originally published on Epicurious

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