The best books on organic gardening

Who am I?

I've been gardening my whole life, starting on my Italian grandfather's farm in Connecticut. As an adult, I've always been an organic gardener and constantly looking for new ways to garden more in tune with Nature, disrupting the soil less while still producing an abundance of vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Certainly, I've learned from experience but also learned from my University education and 10 years of working for National Gardening magazine interviewing expert gardeners across the country. My wife Wendy and I are mostly self-sufficient in vegetables and berries from spring until fall. I also love trying new types of edibles such as honeyberries, tromboncino vining squash, and cucamelons in the garden.  

I wrote...

The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening: Grow Beautiful Vegetables, Herbs, and Flowers - The Easy Way! Layer Your Way to Healthy Soil-Eliminate Tilling

By Charlie Nardozzi,

Book cover of The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening: Grow Beautiful Vegetables, Herbs, and Flowers - The Easy Way! Layer Your Way to Healthy Soil-Eliminate Tilling

What is my book about?

With the step-by-step instructions in The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening, you’ll discover how to build healthy, easy-to-plant garden soil by adding layers of organic matter using one of several different no-dig techniques. This simple approach lets you grow more food and blooms than ever before, and leave the gas-guzzling tiller behind forever. Plus, when you don't disturb the soil, weed seeds stay buried deep where they can't germinate and carbon is kept sequestered in the ground. No-dig gardening techniques also lead to reduced watering needs and a healthy population of beneficial soil microbes that help feed your plants by breaking down organic matter and releasing nutrients. Produce fresh, homegrown veggies, herbs, and flowers for your table—with no back-breaking work required!

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Plant Partners: Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for the Vegetable Garden

Why did I love this book?

Plant Partners takes the mystery out of companion planting. Based on scientific research, Jessica shows which plant combinations help ward off insects, weeds, and diseases, while allowing your vegetables to grow strong and yield well. The book begins by talking about all the elements you'll need for a successful organic garden. These include soil preparation, cover crops, and plant supports. Then she dives into the best companion planting schemes that really work in the garden. 

By Jessica Walliser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Companion planting has a long history of use by gardeners, but the explanation of why it works has been filled with folklore and conjecture. Plant Partners delivers a research-based rationale for this ever-popular growing technique, offering gardeners dozens of ways they can use scientifically tested plant partnerships to benefit the garden as a whole. Through an enhanced understanding of how plants interact with and influence each other, this guide suggests specific plant combinations that growers can use to improve soil health and weed control, decrease pest damage, and increase biodiversity, resulting in real and measurable impacts in the garden.

Book cover of The Vegetable Gardener's Bible: Discover Ed's High-Yield W-O-R-D System for All North American Gardening Regions: Wide Rows, Organic Method

Why did I love this book?

Using his “W-O-R-D” method (Wide beds, Organic methods, Raised beds, and Deep beds), Ed Smith described in detail how to grow a productive, vegetable garden organically. I like Ed's emphasis on soil building, using raised beds, and composting to create the habitat in your yard for beneficial insects and soil creatures, while reducing the need for spraying for pests. He also runs through an A to Z of his favorite vegetables and how to grow them.

By Edward C. Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ed Smith is back with a 10th Anniversary Edition for the next generation of vegetable gardeners. New to this edition is coverage of 15 additional vegetables, including an expanded section on salad greens and more European and Asian vegetables. Readers will also find growing information on more fruits and herbs, new cultivar photographs in many vegetable entries, and a much requested section on extending the season into the winter months. No matter how cold the climate, growers can bring herbs indoors and keep hardy greens alive in cold frames or hoop houses. The impulse to grow vegetables is even stronger…

Book cover of Organic Gardening for Everyone: Homegrown Vegetables Made Easy - No Experience Required!

Why did I love this book?

CaliKim has created a large following on her YouTube channel for vegetable gardeners struggling to grow food in small spaces. Her book emphasizes her practical and direct approach to growing food, starting with tips on seed starting to ways of harvesting. Living in a dry climate, the book emphasizes ways to efficiently water veggies and deal with extreme weather for the best production. I like how CaliKim has good advice on ways to transplant and care for your garden vegetables.

By Calikim,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Organic Gardening for Everyone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you want to grow healthy vegetables at home, but have hesitated because it seems too hard and time consuming, Organic Gardening for Everyone is your perfect hands-on guide—an “if I can do it, you can do it” case study that addresses your concerns and gets you started.

Loaded with practical advice and step-by-step guidance, Organic Gardening for Everyone takes a very personal and friendly approach to a subject that can be intimidating. It is a first-class primer on organic vegetable gardening, and an inspirational story about how anyone can balance the rigors of gardening with the demands of a…

Book cover of The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook: Identify and Solve Common Pest Problems on Edible Plants - All Natural Solutions!

Why did I love this book?

This book really dives deep into organic pest controls. Susan begins by talking about the idea of Integrated Pest Management and spells out the approach and benefits for the garden and gardener. Then she dives into profiles of more than 30 common insect pests and their controls. She also profiles the good guys too, highlighting beneficial insects. What I like is the section on common organic pest controls and how to properly use them. There's even a section on making traps and barriers to physically keep insects away from your plants. 

By Susan Mulvihill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook, you’ll find the simple, straightforward resources and tools you need to identify common pests of edible gardens and manage them without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides.

Climate change and newly introduced insect pests are changing the world of gardening. Pests that once produced a single generation per year are now producing two or even three, and accidentally imported pest insects have no natural predators to keep them in check. These leaf-munching critters can cause significant damage in short order, reducing your yields and costing you time and money, especially if your garden is…

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

Why did I love this book?

Charles is a long-time No-Dig Practitioner in England and offers some great advice on how to set up a no-dig organic garden for year-round growing. The emphasis is on the soil. I like how Charles spends a large section of the book talking about soils and making compost. Healthy soil will prevent lots of common problems in your vegetable garden. Besides showing how to grow organic vegetables with the no-dig method, there also are sections on harvesting, preserving food, cooking, and making your homestead more self-sufficient. 

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…

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