The best gardening books if you'd like to grow your own vegetables

Who am I?

I’ve always loved nature and the idea of being more self-reliant, so growing some of my own food seemed like an obvious place to start. This led me to permaculture and the treasure box of goodies it provides for each of us to make a positive difference in the world. Almost by accident, I found myself teaching and I loved it so much it became my main vocation. I write to make sense of things for myself and this is how my Design Guide came about. Books are a gift so few of our ancestors had access to. I hope you enjoy my recommendations as much as I have. 

I wrote...

Permaculture Design: A Step-By-Step Guide

By Aranya Austin,

Book cover of Permaculture Design: A Step-By-Step Guide

What is my book about?

Permaculture provides us with a collection of principles and tools to make our world a better, more sustainable and equitable place. However, making sense of that collection hasn’t always been obvious. Intended as a companion volume to other permaculture texts, my book ends that confusion, using photos, flowcharts, and diagrams to guide you through a step-by-step process on your own site. It places the permaculture ethics, principles, philosophies, tools, and techniques directly into the context of the process itself, explaining when to use each one. If you’d like to create an abundant landscape in harmony with nature, this guide is for you. It’s suitable for anyone with a basic grasp of permaculture, but has plenty to offer the more experienced designer too.

The books I picked & why

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

By Huw Richards,

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

Why this book?

Huw has a mission - to help us all to grow some of our own food. In his three books to date he’s addressed our most common excuses: I don’t have the space, I can’t afford it, I don’t know how to do it. In this, his first, he shows us how to grow 19 different vegetables in a year in just a 3m x 1.2m raised bed. Each month has its own chapter detailing what to sow, transplant, or harvest, making it perfect for absolute beginners. It’s full of great photos and diagrams and belongs on every bookshelf. I think Huw is such a great inspiration. He has a very popular YouTube channel and is still only in his early twenties. Start with this book, then read his others too! 

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

By Charles Dowding, Stephanie Hafferty,

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

Why this book?

Charles has been growing food for 40 years and is a pioneer of the no-dig method. Quite frankly, I could’ve included any of his books here, but this one combines his growing expertise with Stephanie’s own and includes chapters on recipes and storage. It’s a large-format book full of lovely photographs and in it, you’ll learn not just how to create no-dig beds, but also why they give greater yields. I can attest to this having used his methods myself. This book combines plenty of detailed information with you can do this too inspiration. You’ll find step-by-step instructions for growing many different vegetables along with recommended varieties. It’s a book I refer to on a regular basis and five years after publication still hasn’t yet been shelved. 

Edible Paradise: How to Grow Herbs, Flowers, and Vegetables in Any Space

By Vera Greutink,

Book cover of Edible Paradise: How to Grow Herbs, Flowers, and Vegetables in Any Space

Why this book?

I first came across an original Dutch copy of Vera’s book in a charity shop and I bought it despite not understanding the words because it looked so beautiful. In 2019 I finally got the chance to buy an English version and I was not disappointed. Vera is another no-dig, organic grower and this book demonstrates how attractive and abundant such gardens can be. I especially like her sections on her favourite edible flowers and how she groups plants together based on their shape and size but also how they can benefit each other. It’s an all-round beautiful and inspiring book that lives on my easy-access bookshelf!

Grow Your Own Vegetables

By Joy Larkcom,

Book cover of Grow Your Own Vegetables

Why this book?

Unlike my other recommendations, Joy’s book lacks photos and includes only line drawings. Regardless, her book is a classic reference that was my go-to guide when I started growing vegetables back in the mid-1980s – before the pages eventually started falling out. This revised edition is full of detailed information on how to grow an extensive list of vegetables, along with everything else you need to know about the process of growing. While many other books may look prettier, there’s little that you might want to know about organic gardening that you won’t find within these pages. Buy a copy for your home library and another for your greenhouse or potting shed.

Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally

By Robert Kourik,

Book cover of Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally

Why this book?

Its faded spine and tatty pages show just how well-used my copy of Robert’s book has been. While the most fascinating drawings to leap from its pages are of the different root systems of vegetables, there’s plenty more to be found inside. Robert’s ‘Golden Rules of Edible landscaping’ look remarkably similar to many of our modern permaculture principles. He compares different methods of cultivation, reviews companion planting, and provides many lists and tables of useful information such as green manures, soil indicators, and mineral accumulator plants—unusual information when it was published in 1986. It’s the most substantial book on my list for good reason, but waiting for you when you want to learn more.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in vegetables, organic gardening, and permaculture?

5,716 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about vegetables, organic gardening, and permaculture.

Vegetables Explore 25 books about vegetables
Organic Gardening Explore 18 books about organic gardening
Permaculture Explore 9 books about permaculture

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Plant Partners, Organic Gardening for Everyone, and Walden if you like this list.