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I’m always on the lookout for the best vegetable gardening books, and each year, I add several new titles to my collection. At this point, I have dozens and dozens of books dedicated to food gardening. It’s true that there are a lot of fantastic books on vegetable gardening available at local bookshops as well as online, so by no means is this a complete list. Instead, it’s a list of the books that I tend to reach for so often that they stay on my desk, not my bookshelf. They’re dirt-smudged, well-thumbed, and much loved by me. Without further ado, here are seven of the best vegetable gardening books that belong on every gardener’s bookshelf.
7 of the Best Vegetable Gardening Books:
The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible With over 563,000 copies in print, Edward C. Smith’s, The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible has become a modern classic. For someone new to food gardening, this is a great place to start. Smith’s advice is practical and helpful, and he demonstrates many ways to boost production with his high-yield growing system. For me, I found the large section on organic soil care invaluable and Smith’s tips on creating quality compost made a big difference in my yields. Each crop is also covered in detail, with planting schedules and tips, growing information, and the pests and diseases to watch out for. Smith also includes some of my favourite lesser-known edibles like sorrel, mustard, mizuna, and claytonia.
Epic Tomatoes If you want to grow great tomatoes, you need to meet Craig LeHoullier. Craig is the gardener who introduced us to the beloved heirloom, Cherokee Purple, and one of the breeders behind the ‘Dwarf Tomato Project’ that is revolutionizing the types of tomatoes we’ll be growing in our gardens for many years to come. Epic Tomatoes is the result of decades of experience cultivating and breeding tomatoes, and guides readers through all aspects of growing tomatoes, the #1 garden vegetable. From staking to disease prevention to fertilizing, as well as collecting and saving seeds, Craig’s passion for tomatoes is infectious. Plus, Epic Tomatoes features over 200 of the best tomato varieties for the home garden – you’ll soon be digging up new beds for spring. For more information on Craig, check out my interview, ‘5 Questions with Craig LeHoullier’.
Small-Space Vegetable Gardens As urban spaces continue to shrink – leaving us with smaller yards and more condos – food gardeners need to grow smarter. Living in urban Vancouver, author Andrea Bellamy knows how hard it can be to find enough room to grow food, and in Small-Space Vegetable Gardens, she shares her ideas for growing a bounty of delicious food in a minimal space. This is a beautiful book filled with inspiring photos, but look closer, as Bellamy will soon have you thinking outside the traditional garden plot and looking at decks, walls, along fences, anywhere there happens to be some sun. She tackles the challenge of designing a food garden in tight quarters, and spotlights some of the best edibles for small spaces.
Homegrown Pantry I’m a HUGE Barbara Pleasant fan. I love all her books like Starter Vegetable Gardens and the Complete Compost Gardening Guide, so was thrilled to get my hands on a copy of her recent release, Homegrown Pantry. I’m always looking for gardening books that aren’t standard fare. I want to learn new techniques and be introduced to new varieties. And, Homegrown Pantry is a guide that covered all the steps from planning and prepping the garden to canning, dehydrating, fermenting, and freezing the harvest. Each of the 55 crop profiles give helpful growing advice and cover topics few gardening books tackle – Which tomatoes make the best salsa? What crops can be frozen or dehydrated? How much do I need to plant? Pleasant takes the guesswork out of gardening and tells you exactly how many seeds to sow or seedlings to plant to grow enough food for all your preserving techniques.
The Chinese Kitchen Garden Wendy Kiang-Spray’s The Chinese Kitchen Garden was one of my most anticipated books for 2017 and it exceeded all my expectations when it was released in February. Kiang-Spray weaves a story of food and family, peppered with vegetable profiles, growing information, and traditional recipes. She divides the book into four main sections; spring, summer, fall, and winter, focusing on the pressing garden tasks and appropriate crops for each season. In fact, the autumn garden is every bit as productive – and maybe even more – than spring. Kiang-Spray also shares many family stories in the book and about how her vegetable garden connected her to her father in a new way. A must-read for anyone interested in exploring new crops and flavors.
High-Yield Vegetable Gardening I may have twenty raised beds, but I’m always experimenting with various techniques to help me grow more food in my space. High-Yield Vegetable Gardening is a book that should be on the shelf of any serious food gardener. It covers a lot of ground and teaches home gardeners how to think like farmers to boost yield and get the most from your garden area. The detailed section on crop selection, scheduling and record keeping, and the chapter on crop rotation helped me hone my planning skills and have made me a better gardener. I’ve also become a savvy hand-pollinator, boosting the yield of my squash and cucumber plants by using their simple techniques. This illustrated book is full of very useful charts, lists, and work sheets from the authors, who are two experienced CSA farmers. Learn to garden like a farmer!
Foodscape Revolution The first book by Brienne Gluvna Arthur, Foodscape Revolution celebrates the homegrown harvest; from yard to table. Foodscaping is essentially pairing food and flowers in the same space, a technique I’ve been using in my own vegetable garden for years to attract more pollinators and beneficial insects. However, Arthur takes that a step further and teaches us how we can use the parts of our yards that are traditionally landscaped, to grow plenty of nutritious homegrown vegetables, herbs, fruits, and more. She pairs shrubs and perennials with food crops, and shares the best edibles to grow to shave dollars off your grocery budget. According to Arthur, there are many benefits to embracing a foodscaping lifestyle; fresh food, healthier lifestyle, lower food costs, increased biodiversity, and a beautiful, productive landscape.
I also think that we experts at Savvy Gardening produce pretty awesome books, such as Jessica’s book Container Gardening Complete, which features fun and easy creative DIY projects for growing food and flowers in small spaces, and her award-winning Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden. She also wrote Plant Partners: Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for the Vegetable Garden, which offers gardeners dozens of ways they can use scientifically tested plant partnerships to benefit the garden as a whole.
You may also be interested in Tara’s best-selling book, Raised Bed Revolution, which has become THE guide to gardening in raised beds and her follow-up book, Gardening Your Front Yard. I have my own collection of four vegetable gardening books too; The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, Groundbreaking Food Gardens, Veggie Garden Remix and Growing Under Cover: Techniques for a More Productive, Weather-Resistant, Pest-Free Vegetable Garden.
What do you think are the best vegetable gardening books?