My favorite books about food gardening written by women

Why am I passionate about this?

Amy Goldman is a gardener, author, artist, philanthropist, and well-known advocate for seed saving, plant breeding, and heirloom fruits and vegetables. Her mission is to celebrate and catalogue the magnificent diversity of standard, open-pollinated varieties, and to promote their conservation. Amy gave up a career as a clinical psychologist to follow her first love which was kitchen gardening. In her own words from Heirloom Harvest: “I have romantic leanings and tend to follow my heart… In hindsight, I know my heart steered me straight, and toward a future I could never have imagined…My passion for the fruits of the earth has deep roots….”


I wrote...

Book cover of The Melon

What is my book about?

Melons are the vegetable garden’s crown jewels – and Amy Goldman’s lifelong love and calling. Amy’s latest book, The Melon, will entice and educate, whether you are a gardener, a locavore, or simply delight in the inherent beauty and evanescence of the fruits of the vine.

Illustrated by Victor Schrager, a master of still-life photography, and many years in the making, this book is comprehensive and definitive. It includes portraits in words and photographs of 125 extraordinary varieties grown by Amy in her Hudson Valley garden, expert advice on picking and choosing melons and watermelons in the market, growing them in the garden, and saving pure heirloom seeds. Twenty delicious recipes and seed sources are included. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Grow Your Own Vegetables

Amy Goldman Fowler Why did I love this book?

Joy Larkcom knows her vegetables, and how to grow them, like no other. She is a Brit, now living in Ireland, with deep experience. Her knowledge and wisdom applies to interested readers on both sides of the pond. 

Grow your own Vegetables is the best how-to book on vegetable gardening bar none. I recommend it to beginning, intermediate, as well as advanced growers. As for myself, I do well to thumb through its pages on occasion for best practices and refresher courses – especially when it comes to, say, spacing requirements for cultivating some of the unfamiliar vegetable crops. Eighty different kinds of vegetables, from artichokes to turnips, are included. No expert is infallible including Joy; she recognizes that your experience is the best teacher.

By Joy Larkcom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Grow Your Own Vegetables as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This revised, updated and expanded edition of the classic guide to growing your own vegetables contains everything you need to know to create a highly-productive vegetable plot. Covering every aspect of vegetable gardening from preparing soil to manures, composts and fertilizers, from growing techniques to protection, pests, from diseases and weeds to making good use of space, this is a comprehensive guide to ensuring the best results from your garden or allotment. With cultivation information for over 100 vegetables, including site and soil requirements, cultivation, pests and diseases, and cultivars, this illustrated handbook is a must for vegetable gardeners of…


Book cover of The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping: Home Landscaping with Food-Bearing Plants and Resource-Saving Techniques

Amy Goldman Fowler Why did I love this book?

Rosalind Creasy is one of my heroes. It was she who first turned me on to heirloom fruits and vegetables over 30 years ago, when I read her newly published Cooking from the Garden. That seminal tome celebrates the food garden’s bounty and uses in cookery. 

Creasy is best known as a pioneer in the field of edible landscaping aka foodscaping: the practice of integrating edible plants into the landscape for beauty and sustenance. Think yummy delicious arbors, allées, groundcovers, borders, hedges, espaliers, foundation plantings, and potted plants. She spells out all the how-to’s, wheres, and whyfors in her first book, The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping; and updates it all in the second edition, Edible Landscaping. If you’re looking for practical advice, detailed instructions, design schemes, and recommended plants to feed body and soul, then allow me to point you in Ros’s direction.

By Rosalind Creasy, Marcia Kier-Hawthorne (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This comprehensive, feature-packed book shows how you can create more beauty around your home, grow delicious healthful produce, and save money and natural resources all at the same time—by landscaping with edible plants.
Author Rosalind Creasy, a landscape designer and leading authority on edible landscaping, provides all the information necessary to plan, plant, and maintain ornamental edible landscapes, with specific designs for all geographic and climatic regions of the country. Drawing on years of research into the most decorative and flavorful species—from the exotic water chestnut to the ever-popular apple—Creasy shows how edibles can form the basis for a beautiful…


Book cover of Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver

Amy Goldman Fowler Why did I love this book?

Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver is a heartwarming story about the heirloom seed movement in America, charmingly told, with evocative details, by one of its prime movers. In 1975, Diane Ott Whealy, co-founded the Seed Savers Exchange (SSE), the nation’s premier non-profit seed-saving organization, with a gift of seeds passed down from her beloved paternal grandparents. The story goes from there. That heirloom fruits and vegetables are now ubiquitous in gardens and on kitchen and restaurant tables across the land, owes much to the dedication of Diane and her former husband, the SSE board, staff, membership, and supporters.

What Diane helped create is about a big idea: collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants to promote their conservation. Get the inside scoop in Gathering. I owe my own evolution as a gardener and advocate to my affiliation with SSE over the past 30 years. 

By Diane Ott Whealy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Daughter of Iowa farmers, Missouri homesteader, and mother of five, Diane Ott Whealy never anticipated that one day she would become a leader in a grass-roots movement to preserve our agricultural biodiversity. The love for the land and the respect for heirloom seeds that Diane shared with her husband, Kent Whealy, led to their starting Seed Savers Exchange in 1975.

Seed Savers Exchange, the nation's premier nonprofit seed-saving organization, began humbly as a simple exchange of seeds among passionate gardeners who sought to preserve the rich gardening heritage their ancestors had brought to this country. Seeds that Ott Whealy herself…


Book cover of The Potted Herb

Amy Goldman Fowler Why did I love this book?

This book is a classic in gardening literature. I prize it so much that I keep grimy paws off my first-edition hardcover copy, and use a later paperback edition as a working copy. Abbie Zabar’s prose is authoritative and delightful to read; her drawings in pen and ink are exquisite. 

Zabar loves beautiful things in miniature. She dedicates this oeuvre, “To all those who want a little garden in their lives.” As in a little garden in a pot comprising annual culinary herbs or perennial herbal topiaries. Everything you need to know about pot culture, choice of container (she is mad about unglazed clay pots), herbs best suited for potting, and the art and craft of topiary is contained therein (pun intended). To round out the book are some simply delicious recipes (I can vouch for the lemon verbena tisane) and pleasing little projects employing potted herb cuttings.

By Abbie Zabar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Taking a decorative approach to horticulture, the author shares specific advice on the cultivation and placement of herbs and offers instructions, recipes, and craft ideas for using herbs


Book cover of The Garden in Every Sense and Season: A Year of Insights and Inspiration from My Garden

Amy Goldman Fowler Why did I love this book?

The Garden in Every Sense and Season isn’t strictly speaking about food gardening, but Tovah Martin loves homegrown fruits and vegetables as much as I do, and that comes shining through on the pages of this book. She “lives on lettuce,” describes herself as “brassica-centric” (picture broccoli and cauliflower as the main event at lunch), is passionate about Jade bush beans and will have no other, and lusts for Chester Thornless blackberries. You get the idea?

What appeals to me most about Martin’s book, apart from her astute observations and deep knowledge about all kinds of plants – edible as well as ornamental; cultivated as well as wild – is her exuberance. About the rhythms of nature, the growth cycle, and the sensual pleasures to be had, every day in every season. I find her voice simply infectious. Reading this book is sure to make you smile, and perhaps help you (as it helped me) to appreciate the minor miracles of everyday life even more.

By Tovah Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Garden in Every Sense and Season as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

So much of gardening is focused on seasonal to-do lists and daily upkeep. But what about taking time to just enjoy the garden? The Garden in Every Sense and Season urges you to revel in what you've created. From the heady fragrance of spring lilacs to the delicious silence of a winter snowfall, writer and lifelong gardener Tovah Martin explores the glories of her garden using the five senses. Her sage advice and gratifying reflections on the rewards of a more mindful way of gardening will inspire you to look closer, breathe deeper, listen harder, and truly savor the gifts…


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Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

Book cover of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

Gabrielle Robinson Author Of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Retired english professor

Gabrielle's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Gabrielle found her grandfather’s diaries after her mother’s death, only to discover that he had been a Nazi. Born in Berlin in 1942, she and her mother fled the city in 1945, but Api, the one surviving male member of her family, stayed behind to work as a doctor in a city 90% destroyed.

Gabrielle retraces Api’s steps in the Berlin of the 21st century, torn between her love for the man who gave her the happiest years of her childhood and trying to come to terms with his Nazi membership, German guilt, and political responsibility.

Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

What is this book about?

"This is not a book I will forget any time soon."
Story Circle Book Reviews

Moving and provocative, Api's Berlin Diaries offers a personal perspective on the fall of Berlin 1945 and the far-reaching aftershocks of the Third Reich.

After her mother's death, Robinson was thrilled to find her beloved grandfather's war diaries-only to discover that he had been a Nazi.

The award-winning memoir shows Api, a doctor in Berlin, desperately trying to help the wounded in cellars without water or light. He himself was reduced to anxiety and despair, the daily diary his main refuge. As Robinson retraces Api's…


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