The best books on backyard veg

Bill Laws Author Of Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History
By Bill Laws

Who am I?

Veg. I grow it; I nurture it; I shield it from cold winds, protect it from voracious pigeons, warm it against sudden frosts. And then I share it with friends, family, and neighbours… and we eat it. In between times I might write something gardeny or historical, but you’ll usually find me back on my veg plot, a little urban allotment in the west of England. I do a lot of reading there too! 

I wrote...

Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History

By Bill Laws,

Book cover of Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History

What is my book about?

We give flowers. We spend hours nurturing our gardens. We use plants in dyes, construction, cosmetics, and medicines. And we don’t give them a second thought. 

Here’s the irony – we are entirely dependent on them. Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History examines some of the plants that have had the greatest impact on human civilization. It’s a useful reminder that we should never take plants for granted.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Royal Horticultural Society Step-by-Step Veg Patch: A Foolproof Guide to every Stage of Growing Fruit and Veg

Why did I love this book?

Let’s face it: we all want to know how to do it. And while the best thing is to consult your green-fingered neighbours, the next best is to turn to a good book. The RHS is the world’s oldest gardening club and ever since my county neighbour, Thomas Andrew Knight, slipped into the president’s chair in 1811, it’s been offering sound horticultural advice. In Knight’s day, women like his daughter Francis provided fine, watercolour images: nowadays we can reap the rewards of close-up camera work.

By Lucy Chamberlain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Royal Horticultural Society Step-by-Step Veg Patch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An infallible guide to vegetable growing for gardeners with little space but big ambitions. It's time to get your hands dirty!

This gardening book will help you learn how to grow, nurture, and harvest more than 50 types of fruits and vegetables. The bright photos, step-by-step illustrations, and foolproof advice will get you growing in no time.

Perfect for beginners as well as keen gardeners. This planting book will teach you how to plan your space, be it a small raised bed, some pots, or a large vegetable patch.

Maximise your harvest and explore different planting themes that suit your…

Walden: Life in the Woods

By Henry David Thoreau,

Book cover of Walden: Life in the Woods

Why did I love this book?

We backyard veggie growers owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Native Americans who passed on to us their protein-rich maize, squash, potatoes, and beans. One beneficiary was that great contemplative gardener Henry David Thoreau who tended a bean field on the shores of Walden Pond at Concord, Massachusetts. "What shall I learn of beans or beans of me? I cherish them, I hoe them, early and late I have an eye to them and this is my days work," he wrote. He still does not disappoint – even after 160 years. 

By Henry David Thoreau,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Walden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Henry David Thoreau is considered one of the leading figures in early American literature, and Walden is without doubt his most influential book.

Designed to appeal to the booklover, the Macmillan Collector's Library is a series of beautiful gift editions of much loved classic titles. Macmillan Collector's Library are books to love and treasure.

It recounts the author's experiences living in a small house in the woods around Walden Pond near Concord in Massachusetts. Thoreau constructed the house himself, with the help of a few friends, to see if he could live 'deliberately' - independently and apart from society. The…

Book cover of The No Dig Organic Home & Garden: Grow, Cook, Use, and Store Your Harvest

Why did I love this book?

Organics, raised beds, permaculture, vertical gardening: there are plenty of exciting new ideas coming out of the veg patch. One of the most persuasive is Charles Dowding’s no-dig brigade. Many of my ‘can’t dig’ friends are joining up too, prevented from wielding a spade by sore backs, arthritis, and other such ailments. This regime of hand weeding and hoeing, and freshening the soil with generous helpings of homemade mulching composts is so much kinder to the planet than plastering it with artificial fertilisers.

By Charles Dowding, Stephanie Hafferty,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The No Dig Organic Home & Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No dig organic gardening saves time and work. It requires an annual dressing of compost to help accelerate the improvement in soil structure and leads to higher fertility and less weeds. No dig experts, Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty, explain how to set up a no dig garden. They describe how to: Make compost, enrich soil, harvest and prepare food and make natural beauty and clean ing products and garden preparations. These approaches work as well in small spaces as in large gardens. The Authors' combined experience gives you ways of growing, preparing and storing the plants you grow for…

Book cover of Veg in One Bed: How to Grow an Abundance of Food in One Raised Bed, Month by Month

Why did I love this book?

A well-followed YouTuber, Huw Richards is a relative newcomer to the vegetable garden, one of the new generation. I like the way he explores the rich potential of the raised bed – that’s right: just one. And he manages to incorporate every backyard trick from harvesting pea shoots to making compost. As ambitious as it’s appealing, his Veg in One Bed will probably persuade most backyard veggie growers to expand their plots before the first season is even over. 

By Huw Richards,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Veg in One Bed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Top grossing gardening book of 2019 in the UK.

"Huw Richards is the future of gardening" (The Guardian)

"This beautifully illustrated book teaches you what to do month-by month in order to have success in the garden"(The Sun)

"Ideal for new allotmenteers and gardeners starting to dabble in growing their own crops" (The English Garden)

In just one raised bed, greenfingered wunderkind Huw Richards shows you how to grow vegetables, organically, abundantly and inexpensively so you have something to harvest every month of the year.

Grow your own vegetable garden with this practical, straightforward gardening guide.

There is nothing more…

Book cover of The Vegetable Book: An Unnatural History

Why did I love this book?

Zucchini? Or courgette? Sweet corn? Or maize? Runner bean? Or stick bean? Our kitchen gardens are complicated by linguistic confusion. I resolve them through the pages of the old, yet highly respected The Vegetable Book – An Unnatural History. For example: "Vegetable marrows, brought to England [from the Americas] about 1700...are known as Italian small marrows, or zucchini, or courgettes (little marrows)." This little gem was written by Buddhist Yann Lovelock way back in the 1970s. It remains a revealing read. 

By Yann Lovelock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Vegetable Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in vegetables, organic gardening, and gardening?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about vegetables, organic gardening, and gardening.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Art of Pilgrimage, Anne Frank, and How Much Is Enough? if you like this list.