As a new gardener, not knowing where or how to start can be difficult. These are some resources I learned a lot from and wish I read my first year gardening. Here are the 5 home gardening books I think every gardener should read in their first year of trying to grow their food at home.
1. How to Grow More Vegetables
How to Grow More Vegetables is focused on the idea that a person can grow all of the food they need on 1/10th of an acre of land. The book goes into detail on how this can be done. It follows a basic formula of what you should grow based on your caloric as an adult, as well as how to generate your own material from your home garden to continue feeding the soil. In short, I love this book. It’s one that I have read all the way through and will continue to go to reference along my sustainability journey. What stands out to me most is that the Biointensive system outlined in the book follows is attainable for someone living in the suburbs with an average-sized yard. I love permaculture videos. But I can’t do that in my backyard. If you are looking for a sustainable approach to gardening then this is definitely one that you need to add to your reading list.
2. The Urban Farmer
If you are someone that always had a dream of starting a farm but you live in an urban/suburban area then this is a really good resource for you. How much you value this book depends on what your garden goals are when reading it. If you are looking at maximizing profit on a small footprint of land then it’s worth its weight in gold. If you are looking to start up a home garden to grow the things you like, maybe throw in some flowers, then you would still get value from the book, but you will probably skip over a few chapters.
3. Square Foot Gardening
This just might be the least intimidating gardening book you will ever read. The author makes everything seem achievable and explains himself in a very simple, beginner-friendly way. His methodology gets you started in a 4 x4 foot garden space with 6 inches of soil. This book is all about growing more in less space with less work. It includes lots of easy to follow building instructions for things like trellises, insect screening and DIY compost bins. If you only have a very small area to garden in, this might be the best book for you.
4. JADAM Organic Farming
If you are serious about not using chemicals in your garden this book is for you. If you are looking for recipes to make your own pesticides and fertilizers this book is for you. If you are remotely interested in having a sustainable garden, yes you guessed it this book is for you. JADAM is a low-cost organic agriculture method out of Korea. A huge aspect of JADAM is making microorganism solutions both as organic fertilizers as well as natural pesticides. As a home gardener, this book can be a little intimidating because it is written more for a market gardener (1 to 5 acres) size of production in my opinion. But, if you are adventurous and would like to go beyond composting and make your own fertilizers and pesticides for your garden this book deserves a spot on your bookshelf.
5. The Edible Balcony: Growing Fresh Produce in Small Spaces
I love encouraging people to grow in whatever space they have available so I figured our top 5 wouldn’t be complete without this one. The Edible Balcony is a great resource for new gardeners with no outdoor space. Everything the author talks about is true urban container gardening. If you live in an apartment with a small balcony area or deck this can easily become your go-to gardening book. The Edible Balcony Includes what to plant, what containers, how-to and everything you need to plant on your balcony. It also includes several projects that will help you maximize both your space and your harvest.
Bonus: Kiss the ground
This is not a book about gardening. It won’t give you details about how to garden. But, what it will do is help you understand why what you are doing is so important. This book gave me a lot of clarity. It cleared the fog as to if what I was doing mattered and the potential impact it could be having. One of the biggest contributors to the excess carbon in our atmosphere is modern agriculture. Kiss the Ground can show you how regenerative agriculture can be the key to get the carbon back where it should be, in the ground.
Gardening is an activity we can do at any age. It can bring families together and keep the older ones mobile and active. There are so many benefits connecting with nature whenever you can. Before you start planting, take some time to plan your garden and decide what you would like to grow. Over time you can watch your vision grow to be a reality.
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