The best books for beyond-organic gardeners

Anna Hess Author Of The Ultimate Guide to Soil
By Anna Hess

Who am I?

If I'm honest, I became a gardener because I like getting dirty. Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Tom Kitten is the story of my childhood (and my adulthood too, only now I don't have to pretend I'm going to stay clean). Of course, high-quality soil leads to high-quality produce, and I deeply adore the flavors of strawberries growing in deep, dark soil. Biting into a juicy, homegrown tomato still warm from the summer sun is bliss.

I wrote...

The Ultimate Guide to Soil

By Anna Hess,

Book cover of The Ultimate Guide to Soil

What is my book about?

Grow twice the fruits and vegetables in half the space on the farm, in the backyard, or in your window. Using simple techniques like soil testing, remineralization, no-till gardening, and soil amendments, The Ultimate Guide to Soil gives you the real dirt on good soil. Maybe next year your neighbor will be envious of you!

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times

Why did I love this book?

First, let me explain where I'm coming from – my husband and I spent over a decade growing nearly all of our own vegetables and a considerable portion of our other sustenance on our homestead. So even though our current smaller plot only feeds us a side dish or three per day, I tend to think of gardening as something that should be good for our wallets as well as our bellies and the earth. Gardening When It Counts is all that and is 100% based on the author's personal experience growing most of his own food. Highly recommended.

By Steve Solomon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gardening When It Counts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The decline of cheap oil is inspiring increasing numbers of North Americans to achieve some measure of backyard food self-sufficiency. In hard times, the family can be greatly helped by growing a highly productive food garden, requiring little cash outlay or watering. Currently popular intensive vegetable gardening methods are largely inappropriate to this new circumstance. Crowded raised beds require high inputs of water, fertility and organic matter, and demand large amounts of human time and effort. But, except for labor, these inputs depend on the price of oil. Prior to the 1970s, North American home food growing used more land…

Book cover of The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses

Why did I love this book?

If you only grow from the last frost to the first frost, your gardening season is extremely short. But a few simple season-extension techniques can mean you harvest fresh food nearly every day of the year. I've used Eliot Coleman's crop suggestions and his quick hoops and can say from experience that they make all the difference during the cold season.

By Eliot Coleman, Barbara Damrosch (photographer),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Brimming with ingenuity, hope, and eminently practical advice, The Winter Harvest Handbook is an indispensable contribution."-Michael Pollan

"Useful, practical, sensible, and enlightening information for the home gardener."-Martha Stewart

With The Winter Harvest Handbook, everyone can have access to organic farming pioneer Elliot Coleman's hard-won experience. Gardeners and farmers can use the innovative, highly successful methods Coleman describes in this comprehensive handbook to raise crops throughout the coldest of winters.

Building on the techniques that hundreds of thousands of farmers and gardeners adopted from Coleman's The New Organic Grower and Four-Season Harvest, this book focuses on growing produce of unparalleled freshness…

Book cover of The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times

Why did I love this book?

I have a love/hate relationship with permaculture. I adore the concept...and when I put most authors' assertions into practice, I find that I get a much lower yield than doing things the old way. That's why I enjoy books like this one from gardeners who walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Warning: You will be sorely tempted to buy ducks. Resist, resist!

By Carol Deppe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Scientist/gardener Carol Deppe combines her passion for organic gardening with newly emerging scientific information from many fields - resilience science, climatology, climate change, ecology, anthropology, paleontology, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, health, and medicine. In the last half of The Resilient Gardener, Deppe extends and illustrates these principles with detailed information about growing and using five key crops: potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs.

In this book you'll learn how to:

*Garden in an era of unpredictable weather and climate change

*Grow, store, and use more of your own staple crops

*Garden efficiently and comfortably (even if you have a bad back)…

Book cover of The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach

Why did I love this book?

This book has all of the same selling points as Carol Deppe's but is geared a bit more toward those with larger homesteads rather than a simple backyard plot. Even if you're an urban homesteader, though, the title is well worth a read to drum up outside-the-box ideas.

By Ben Falk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A practical, comprehensive, and essential how-to manual with information on growing perennial crops, soil fertility, water security, nutrient dense food, and more!

"Essential reading for the serious prepper as well as for everyone interested in creating a more resilient lifestyle."-Carol Deppe, author of The Resilient Gardener

The Resilient Farm and Homestead is for readers ready to not just survive, but thrive in changing, unpredictable times. It offers the tools to develop durable, beautiful, and highly functional human habitat systems anchored by preparation, regeneration, and resiliency.

Ben Falk is a land designer and site developer whose research farm has drawn national…

Book cover of Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web

Why did I love this book?

This is a different type of book than the ones listed above but is nonetheless essential for the gardener who wants to enrich rather than deplete their soil. Once you learn about the beneficial fungi, bacteria, and other critters that make up the soil food web, you'll think twice about tearing up their landscape with a rototiller.

By Jeff Lowenfels, Wayne Lewis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Smart gardeners know that soil is anything but an inert substance. Healthy soil is teeming with life not just earthworms and insects, but a staggering multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. When we use chemical fertilizers, we injure the microbial life that sustains healthy plants, and thus become increasingly dependent on an arsenal of artificial, often toxic, substances. But there is an alternative to this vicious cycle. We can garden in a way that strengthens the soil food web the complex world of soil-dwelling organisms whose interactions create a nurturing environment for plants. "Teaming with Microbes" extols the benefits…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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