Monday, March 29, 2010

Edible garden reading essentials

I've been a practicing novice gardener for about a year now and will remain one for some time yet.  However, prior to purchasing my very own patch of real soil, I'd spent a considerable amount of time as a theoretical gardener (i.e. "dreamer") - reading book after book about all sorts of garden & self-sufficiency related subjects.  These books are my vice.  I have amassed a small library of publications, some absolutely brilliant for beginners (i.e. me), others I'm sure I'll find fascinating once I develop the skills and knowledge to fully appreciate them.

Having seen some excellent recent Blotanical posts about the essential tools, such as this one by karly_winkler, and about planning for your garden, such as this one by kitchen_55, I thought I'd jump on board and add my own five cents (lowest denomination coin in Australia).  My contribution is simply a list of those books I personally consider to be a "must read before you start".  They're the books I find myself reading and referring to again and again and wish I'd found before spending a small fortune :)  They're slanted more towards edible gardens and they're not general introduction to gardening books - there's probably way too many good ones of them to count and they'll be more hemisphere specific.

It's supposed to be a top five, but I hope I'll be forgiven for stretching it just one to six.  I've not included links to any particular book seller because: a) I'm Australian so probably use different online sites; and b) so noone thinks this is a massive spam post attracting people to the wiley services of the good Mr/Miss (enter that domain at your own risk.

My top six are:
  • Gaia's Garden: A guide to home-scale permaculture (Toby Hemenway)
  • Edible Forest Gardens Volume I & II (Dave Jacke & Eric Toensmeier)
  • Composting: A down-to-earth, water-wise guide (Penguin Books)
  • No-Dig Gardening (Esther Deans)
  • Gardening Down-Under: A guide to healthier soils and plants (Kevin Handreck)
  • Fabulous Food from every small garden (Mary Horsfall)
The last two are published by "CSIRO Publishing" (Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and are excellent books.  If, like me, you'd not considered CSIRO books as you'd expected them to be weighty technical tomes, I can strongly recommend that you at least have a browse of these two and probably buy or borrow "Gardening Down-Under".

Of course, this post is also to attract some pointers towards great books I might have missed or those essential books I'm just about to grow into.  So, tell me, what are your top three books?

What else must I add to my library?


  1. Thus far my books have all been along the "basics for beginners" route, but I need to start expanding. The basics did help, because I knew nothing, but now they just don't seem to answer my questions!

  2. Thanks for the recommendations Flo! We've just been talking about setting up a 'no dig' garden, so I'll look out for that one. The CSIRO book is already on the wish list!
    Sadly I can't offer any recommendations as as always, I've gone about the whole thing backwards :D

  3. Great suggestions! I have done some reading about no dig gardening. Sounds like a good technique. I am remembering my weekend (shovels and pitchforks included) and wondering why I haven't jumped on the no-dig bandwagon yet. hummm...

    It's not a "how to" book, but it's the most inspiring garden book I have ever read: check out Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.