I used to spend a lot of time watching TV shows before I started growing food. Usually, the only time I had to watch TV was right before bed and the shows I watched were things like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and the list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, the shows were great…but they weren’t good for me. Watching a guy run around a forest carrying his baby while being chased by zombies isn’t exactly the best way to prevent anxiety, especially with a house full of kids. Shortly after starting the garden, we cut our cable and I started devoting that time instead to reading books, watching videos, and learning all I could about gardening. I’ve read probably half a hundred garden books by now and from all of them, these are my favorites.
The Depression Cure by Stephen S. Ilardi
Ok, so this technically isn’t a book about gardening, but it is the book that started everything for me. As I’ve written about previously, the quest to defeat my anxiety and depression is what led me to the garden initially and I owe a large deal of gratitude to this book for inspiring me to change the way I live.
Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew
This was the first gardening book and I still subscribe to probably 80-90% of the methods in this book. Square Foot Gardening is a great way to get introduced to gardening and is a great method of gardening in an urban, small-scale environment.
Four Seasons Harvest by Eliot Coleman
This book inspired me to think about gardening as a year-round activity. It’s possible to grow kale, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and many other things during the winter months and Elliot Coleman explains all the details in this book. Other great books of his include The New Organic Grower and The Winter Harvest Handbook.
Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte
Companion planting is the concept of planting your garden in such a way that the plants work together to help with pest and disease prevention. This book is the ultimate companion planting guide and explains all the different ways you can use companion planting to your benefit. Plus, the author is from Oklahoma also!
How Plants Work by Linda Chalker-Scott
I’m a geek at heart and love to know how things work. This is the ultimate book for explaining how plants work with all the details. This is a must read for anyone that would like to fully understand exactly what’s going on with your plants from seed to harvest.
The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch
I used to love reading the encyclopedia as a child. Now the Internet has made the encyclopedia word a thing of the past but I still love to have things like this around. Consider this the ultimate gardening encyclopedia. I’ve read this cover-to-cover several times and learn something new each time.
The Urban Farmer by Curtis Stone
Curtis Stone has one of my favorite YouTube channels and is the master of growing lots of food in small spaces. He operates an urban farm in Canada where he makes huge profits off of small plots of land leased from neighbors. Many of his methods were based on Jean-Martin Fortier’s techniques outlined in The Market Gardener. They’re both full of great info but I really like some of the efficiencies that Curtis has come up with.
Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening by David the Good
This is a great book full of information about how to grow a survival garden. I typically shy away from anything that gets too much into the “prepper” side of things, but I found this to be a valuable read and you’ll find many approaches here that you won’t see anywhere else!
The Best of Organic Gardening by Mike McGrath
Mike McGrath hosts the You Bet Your Garden! podcast that I listen to every week. He was the editor of the Organic Gardening magazine for a number of years and this book is a collection of the most valuable tips and techniques from the magazine. There are a ton of timeless tips and strategies for the organic grower in this book!
Is there a book I should read that’s missing from the list? If so, I’m always looking for new reading material and would love to hear from you in the comments!
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