Top 5 gardening books

Note: This article was written by Kim Hudson, a gardening whiz and friend of

Many people want to learn how to garden especially during a downward economy. They either have the space in their own back yards or are fortunate enough to have a public garden plot in their neighborhood. Either way, first-time gardeners need to know where and how to start this journey. Gardening books are the answer. In the following books you will find hints, tips and plenty of good gardening advice to get your journey under way.

A great gardening book for beginners is “Living off the Land – A Handbook for Survival,” written by John H. Tobe and published in 1973 by Simon and Schuster. This gardening book focuses on the necessities of life, which as most of us know are food, shelter, fuel and water. This book also emphasizes self-sufficiency in your health and well being. And your ability to keep your family well fed with wholesome homegrown food.

The beginning of the book may seem a little gloomy because of Tobe’s political concerns. But, essentially what he is trying to get across to his readers is that we need to take more responsibility for our health and well-being. But as you read through it, you will find fascinating information on organic farming, diversity in what you grow and how you grow it, pollination, seeds and seed-sowing, and storing the fruits and vegetables that you grow.

Tobe also gets into drainage and irrigation as well as pollution and foods that you can forage from the forest such as arrow grass, which can be toasted and used as a cereal as well as more commonly known foods such as sunflowers, hickory nuts and black walnuts. If you want to dig a little deeper in your gardening quest he also teaches you the ins and outs of cash crops, independent fruit farming and even provides free land and homesteading information. This gardening book is helpful for the beginning gardener as well as the seasoned gardener.

Once you get your hands dirty (pun intended), you will want to get more involved in the techniques of home gardening. You will find “Getting the Most from Your Garden – Using Advanced Intensive Gardening Techniques,” (copyright 1980 by Rodale Press, Inc. written by Rich Kline, Nancy E. Lee, Vic Sussman and Ray Wolf) a tremendously helpful gardening book. This book offers a step-by-step guide on setting up, preparing and designing your garden bed, no matter what region of the country you live in.

The authors provide in depth information on the types of soil that are best for the plants you intend to grow as well as how to plant so that you will have a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.

This gardening book also helps you understand the process of germinating your own seeds. It offers reasons for starting your own seeds, as well as advice on how to care for the seedlings so that when the time comes to transplant them to your garden, you will grow strong and healthy plants. In the end this is what every gardener wants.

Even the best gardeners need help from time to time, and when they do they can refer to “Horticulture Gardener’s Desk Reference – The Ultimate Resource for Everything a Gardener Could Ever Want to Know,” written by Anne Halpin (copyright 1996 by Macmillan). The novice gardener to the master gardener will find a plethora of information between the covers of this gardening book — an essential tool for all gardeners.

This gardening book covers everything from soil pH, plant and soil nutrient deficiencies symptoms, fertilization, watering, mulching and weeding to a hardiness zone map. You will have at your finger tips information on every kind of plant, including vegetables, flowers, bulbs, vines, grasses and trees. This book will inform you on everything from how to plant, harvest and prune to how to predict the weather. This is a must-have for any gardener.

There is not a gardener out there who at some point in time hasn’t experienced a problem with disease or pests. Ortho has one of the best gardening books on this subject. You can find everything you need in: “Home Gardener’s Problem Solver,” copyright 2004 by Meredith Publishing Group. This gardening book will get you started with a diagnostic checklist to help you narrow down your search. Then it will take you step by step through the process of how a plant works. You will find help with disease and insect infestation for your houseplants, lawn, flowers, vegetables, fruits, fruits and nut trees. One of the highlights of this gardening book is the many high quality photographs that will help you identify your plants’ problems, whether insect or disease. Not only will this gardening book help you identify and solve the problem, it also gives you an analysis on why this problem may have occurred in the first place. This book is an asset to every gardener’s library.

Last but not least are the herbs, a must for every garden. An essential gardening book to add to your library is “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Their Medicinal and Culinary Uses,” published by Dorset Press, copyright 1984. Herbs offer up beauty and aroma when grown alongside your flowers and vegetables. Herbs will bring a flowering beauty to your garden that will also attract beneficial insects, such as honey bees and butterflies, for pollination. This gardening book will give you the history of herbalism and help you understand the cultivation of herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes. You will learn how to identify herbs, if they are a perennial or annual plant, what time of year they will flower, and how to prepare the herb as a medicine or for cooking.