Gardening Books

I’m just getting into gardening books.  I recently read Perennial Vegetables which I found pretty interesting but the concept of plants that are around all of the time, taking up garden space, but only producing during one season was kind of tough.  I like the idea of not having as much work to do to get a crop, but my use of perennials is still going to be limited.  Fruit trees, artichokes, and maybe some sun chokes are about all I can do with my current limited space.

Which brings me to the book I’m reading now, Mini Farming.  So far the book is pretty good, but the author points out that you need about 700 square feet of intensive gardening space PER PERSON to provide all of your food needs.  We have six people in our house.  That’s 4200 square feet of intensive beds.  Wow!  While I get really excited thinking about that many square foot gardening beds… I just don’t have the space.  That would be 131 raised beds (4 x 8).  Ouch!

On the brighter side, I had been guesstimating that we were supplying about 10% of our food needs between the garden and the chickens.  We are currently at 442 square feet.  I guess that kind of matches up.  My planned expansion will take us to 618 square feet.  That might bring us up to 15%.  I was guessing and hoping for 20%, but I’d take any increase.

Is there a particular gardening book that you have found helpful?

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14 Responses to Gardening Books

  1. Val Bjerke says:

    If you haven’t already – pick up a copy of ‘Carrots love Tomatos’
    It was printed years ago but is still a good guide to companion planting that has worked well for me. Not only will you increase production – for the fact that some plants just do better with other plants – but if you can think outside the box you can use the premise to gain productive garden space.
    Quick example – I plant in raised beds (but it wouldn’t matter) and I plant a four by eight patch with carrots (I scatter seed and thin throughout the summer) and plant bush beans four inches apart in the same bed. Beans don’t have a very deep root system so there is plenty of room for the carrots in the dirt below. And the plants really like to grow together. I get huge production by planting like this – haven’t bought produce from the store for years.
    Hope this helps.

  2. Great comment about companion planting. I love books but have to admit to reading more gardening blogs and doing research on line versus buying books. I’m a library person so sometimes I check them out but always return them. I went through a cross country move about ten years ago and after giving away so many things I don’t accumulate things any more.

  3. Tania says:

    Like Judy, I tend to chase around the internet for information rather than books. I have a few permaculture type books here but I do find the internet far more helpful.

    I scout around second hand shops for helpful books. I have picked up a few this way 🙂

  4. I have found that imagination, and a google search will lend quite a few good results. Using this method helps me to avoid feeling that one solution from one book is the only best way. Given the variance of each piece of property and all of the other factors that play into growing food,bit is often not beneficial to go the book route. That being said, I want to also acknowledge that books do have a place in my process. Books allow me to avoid quite a few pitfalls and errors while ironing out the kinks. Thank you for the book suggestion, I look forward to adding this title to the collection.

    • Absolutely. Most of my gardening knowledge (what there is), comes from experience, Google, and blogs. Each climate and micro-climate requires observation and experimentation to grow well.

  5. Great blog! I am so interested to see that you too are looking at expanding your raised beds. I have 270 sq ft and it isn’t enough to feed us through the winter and I am thinking of doubling them to have more fruit specifically. I know that the square ft gardener thinks that 6 4×4 squares will do a family of 4 but I really disagree. I just picked up a book at the library on self sustainable living on 1/4 acre. I have probably taken it out before but will give it a read again. Something about the lull of mid august always has me overly ambitious for some reason.

  6. Tania says:

    Hi there 🙂

    Have you seen this method of gardening? The Self Watering Rain Gutter Grow System. Very interesting…


  7. LuckyRobin says:

    I like Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza, Let it Rot by Stu Campbell (okay, that’s composting, but it’s the best composting book out there), and the old stand-by Vegetable Gardening put out by Sunset.

  8. I personally put more value in books then most of what I read on the web as I find there’s so much misinformation/half truths floating around that it’s easy to waste time/resources if you don’t know how to discern good from poor quality info. That being said, the books I like the most don’t get into specifics but talk in general terms and leave it up to you to figure out how to apply it in your situation, which generally frustrate most people. With that being said I highly recommend;

    Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon (even though I mostly disagree with his views on the direction of agriculture
    The Book of Field and Roadside, open-country weeds, trees and wildflowers of eastern north america by John Eastman (probably not useful for someone living in Arizona, great resource to understand the role of various “weeds” in nature)
    How to Grow More Vegetables by john Jeavons (which I previously mentioned, very comprehensive gardening theory built around building up soil over the years with minimal external inputs)

    Finally, although it has no direct value or info that’ll make you a better gardener, “Mindfullness in the Garden; zen tools for digging in the dirt” by Zachiah Murray is an absolute pleasure, in every sense. From the texture and weight of the paper to the quality of the wood block prints decorating chapter headings or randomly spread throughout, not to mention the richness of the gatha’s (meditative poems meant to foster deeper awareness), it’s made even the chores like turning compost into an relaxing meditative activity. Definitely not for everyone though (arguably most really), I suppose some would see it as religious but for me it’s a practical philosophy on gardening and life and how to enjoy both.

    • Sounds like some deep reading. I’ve never thought of turning compost as meditative, although I regularly pray while out in the garden. Sounds like a great list of books. I like the idea of introducing a general idea that needs to be adapted or maybe better understood for a particular area. Thanks for sharing!

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