I love to read about gardening. Especially in the winter when I’m itching to get outside. I’ve been fortunate enough to have read several really informative gardening books and have encountered gardening philosophies that are vastly diverse. My approach is an amalgamation of everything I’ve read, tried to apply and adjust to my circumstances, and a bit of my own ideas and insights added. My garden approach can be summed up by a Bruce Lee quote about martial arts, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own”.
Now, all of these books I’ve gained valuable things from. That being said I haven’t followed any of these methods completely.
Here is my list:
All New Square Foot Gardening – Mel Bartholomew – Bartholomew, took up gardening as a hobby after retiring as a civil engineer. In the United States at the time people all grew in rows in traditional Victory garden style, which Mel saw as wasteful and inefficient. His solution, square foot gardening, reinvented gardening to be more productive and efficient. Square foot gardening method involves building raised beds, a homemade soil, and intensive spacing of plants in the raised beds. After reading this book I made my first raised bed and made Mel’s soil mix, which includes peat moss, compost, and vermiculite. (I’ve since stopped using peat moss due to the impact of its extraction). The book also has information about sowing times and much more. A very valuable resource and a great method, especially for a beginner gardener.
Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening – Sepp Holzer – This was the first book I read about permaculture, and one of the best. Holzer talks about the permaculture methods he has employed on his mountainous and rocky terrain. He utilizes terraces, raised beds, and plant guilds to have an abundance of food, in a terrain where his neighbors have a spruce monoculture. A great introduction to the principles of permaculture.
The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times – Carol Deppe – I first heard Carol Deppe being interviewed on Margaret Roach’s podcast. After hearing this episode, I knew I had to read her book. Deppe, who also founded the seed company Adaptive Seeds and has also written about vegetable breeding, focuses on building a resilient food system. The crops she focuses on are macronutrient dense staples that can be stored. Think corn, potatoes, beans, and squash. She also goes into keeping chickens and ducks for egg production. A great primer on growing food not just to enjoy, but to get you through tough times as well.
Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener by Joseph Tychonievich – While I don’t breed my own varieties yet, this was a very informative book on how to do so. If I do pursue breeding more in the future, I will most certainly re-read this book.
Homegrown Berries: Successfully Grow Your Own Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, and More – Timber Press – A great comprehensive guide to growing all kinds of berries. I personally found this book very useful in getting started with brambles, blueberries, and strawberries.
What am I missing? What are some of your favorites? I’ve read a lot more gardening books, these titles just stood out to me as being very practical and useful. If you have a favorite that is not on the list, I’d love to hear about them!