The best organic gardening books

8 authors have picked their favorite books about organic gardening and why they recommend each book.

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The Garden Jungle

By Dave Goulson,

Book cover of The Garden Jungle

I fell in love from the first line of the Prologue: “This book is about the wildlife that lives right under our noses, in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement and the soil beneath our feet.” Why do we miss the beauty that is right in front of us, not to mention the opportunity to heal? Nature & Shakespeare share being taken for granted because they are always there for us. Yet they are the two things that took center stage during the darkest days of the pandemic, and for the same reason. They are here to heal and anchor us in our shared humanity. We do worry about losing Shakespeare’s plants though, a number of them are now on the endangered species list. But something like plantain (not a banana) really does grow in the cracks of cement, and has amazing healing properties, as Shakespeare…


Who am I?

I’ve had myriad careers in my life but the through-line has always been Shakespeare. I became smitten with the “words, words, words” seeing a production of Twelfth Night in 3rd grade and it’s been a passion ever since. Acting led to being a “Journalist, Editor, Speaker, Spy” but everything I’ve done was to fund my secret joy of being in a dusty old archive, transcribing manuscripts. Even though my first favorite book was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (that was already taken here!), I wasn’t that ‘outdoorsy’, but when the wonderful Japanese artist Sumié Hasegawa showed me her Botanical Shakespeare drawings, I got excited about approaching Shakespeare in a totally new way.


I wrote...

Botanical Shakespeare: An Illustrated Compendium of All the Flowers, Fruits, Herbs, Trees, Seeds, and Grasses Cited by the World's Greatest Playwright

By Gerit Quealy, Sumié Hasegawa Collins (illustrator),

Book cover of Botanical Shakespeare: An Illustrated Compendium of All the Flowers, Fruits, Herbs, Trees, Seeds, and Grasses Cited by the World's Greatest Playwright

What is my book about?

The shorter the title, the longer the subtitle it seems. Over the centuries, folks have focused on Shakespeare's flowers, and occasionally some herbs, but no one seemed interested in the lowly bean, the ripe imagery of corn (a generic term for all grains: wheat, rye, oats, barley), that factions were fighting with flowers, or that naughty meanings hid behind innocent fruit. The book takes the Bard out of a dusty past and plants it in the verdant now, as nothing is more present that a growing flower. Plus, it layers the nature with literature, history, poetry, plots, & characters… Botanical Shakespeare creates a fresh and delicious path in, but that’s where the voyage of discovery starts!

The Vegetable Gardener's Bible

By Edward C. Smith,

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

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.


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!

Organic Gardening for Everyone

By Calikim,

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

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.


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!

The No Dig Organic Home & Garden

By Charles Dowding, Stephanie Hafferty,

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

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.


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.

101 Organic Gardening Hacks

By Shawna Coronado,

Book cover of 101 Organic Gardening Hacks: Eco-Friendly Solutions to Improve Any Garden

The ultimate DIY gardening book, author Shawna Coronado shares more than 100 quick and easy, practical and functional projects for the garden to save you time and money. From tips for a more bountiful harvest to mixing your own garden soil, repelling garden pests, or making a more attractive garden border, the author walks the readers through each project with simple step-by-step instructions.


Who am I?

I am a New Englander, born and bred. I am a 5th-generation chicken keeper and lifelong gardener. An author and Maine Master Gardener, I live on a small farm in Maine where I raise chickens, ducks, and geese and grow all kinds of vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers. My mom was a 3rd-grade teacher and my dad was incredibly artistic, so that combination resulted in me being an avid DIYer. I love to build and make and paint and raise and grow all kinds of things.


I wrote...

Gardening with Chickens: Plans and Plants for You and Your Hens

By Lisa Steele,

Book cover of Gardening with Chickens: Plans and Plants for You and Your Hens

What is my book about?

Welcome to a world where chickens and gardens coexist! Join Lisa Steele, chicken-keeper extraordinaire and founder of Fresh Eggs Daily, on a unique journey through the garden. Start by planning your garden and learning strategies for keeping your plants safe while they grow, plus the most valuable herbs, composting chicken manure, using chickens to work the soil, which plants to avoid and more. Then comes the fun part: enjoy the harvest, and even let the chickens graze!

Lisa's friendly writing, together with inspirational photos and illustrations, will have you rolling up your sleeves and reaching for your gardening tools. Whether you're an experienced chicken keeper, master gardener, or just getting into these hobbies, Gardening with Chickens is an indispensable guide for a harmonious homestead.

The Complete Gardener

By Monty Don,

Book cover of The Complete Gardener: A Practical, Imaginative Guide to Every Aspect of Gardening

My garden will never look like Longmeadow, Monty Don’s quintessential English garden with bucolic vistas, garden rooms enclosed by tall hedges, and a tidy vegetable garden complete with a glass greenhouse. But I can dream, can’t I? This book by the star of the BBC’s Gardeners’ World is full of practical information about gardening organically. I’m amazed at how many plants Monty grows in pots. Let’s just say his show and books have opened my eyes to new possibilities for my own gardens.


Who am I?

As a farmer and a writer, I have devoted my career to organic vegetable and flower production. I founded Growing for Market, a national magazine for market farmers, and published a monthly column about cut flowers. I also grew flowers commercially for 25 years for florists, supermarkets, CSAs, and farmer's markets. I am obsessed with all things in the garden, but especially with the flowering plants, and I’m delighted to share my love of flowers with anyone who wants to learn more.


I wrote...

The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers

By Lynn Byczynski,

Book cover of The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers

What is my book about?

The Flower Farmer is an overview of growing cut flowers as a business or passionate hobby. It’s the first book most people read when starting a cut-flower business. It has also proven to be a great gift book — the ideal statement of solidarity for that person who longs to quit their job and start a career in gardening.

The Flower Farmer provides a solid foundation in the horticultural aspects of growing cut flowers, from variety selection to seed starting to cultivation. It offers detailed advice about the business of small-scale flower farming, including insider tips on potential markets such as florists, supermarkets, and farmer's markets. Finally, it provides essential information on growing, harvesting, and post-harvest handling of 100 types of flowers.

Edible Paradise

By Vera Greutink,

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

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!


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.

Fruit Trees for Every Garden

By Orin Martin, Manjula Martin,

Book cover of Fruit Trees for Every Garden: An Organic Approach to Growing Apples, Pears, Peaches, Plums, Citrus, and More

Fruit Trees for Every Garden was an excellent guide for me as I dream of planting my small backyard orchard. You can tell by reading the text that Martin really knows his stuff and as you read it feels more like an old friend sharing their wisdom over coffee than reading a textbook. The photos are lovely and warrant checking out the book on their own. Martin also dives extensively into the importance of using compost when planting trees, so he earns big points from me.


Who am I?

For me, backyard composting is more than just a way to lessen how much waste I send to the landfill. When you compost you transform items that many people consider garbage into a valuable soil amendment for your garden. You are creating something with real value that can help plants thrive and act as a carbon sink to help reduce negative impacts of climate change. Composting is so easy and rewarding that I really want to see everyone give it a try.


I wrote...

No-Waste Composting: Small-Space Waste Recycling, Indoors and Out. Plus, 10 Projects to Repurpose Household Items Into Compost-Making Machines

By Michelle Balz,

Book cover of No-Waste Composting: Small-Space Waste Recycling, Indoors and Out. Plus, 10 Projects to Repurpose Household Items Into Compost-Making Machines

What is my book about?

In No-Waste Composting, you’ll discover the hows and whys of composting and find over a dozen practical step-by-step plans for building both indoor and outdoor composting systems that require a minimal amount of space. Build a DIY worm-composting system for a cupboard or garage. Craft a layered, composting system from terra cotta pots.  Construct a simple outdoor compost bin from repurposed wooden pallets. Use upcycled wire fencing to build a mobile composting system on the driveway.

Whether you’re just starting your no-waste journey or you’re a seasoned recycling and repurposing pro, No-Waste Composting is an invaluable tool to have at your side. This book is part of the Cool Springs Press No-Waste Gardening series, which also includes No-Waste Kitchen Gardening and No-Waste Organic Gardening.

The Resilient Gardener

By Carol Deppe,

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

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!


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: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home

By Anna Hess,

Book cover of The Ultimate Guide to Soil: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home

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!

Plant Partners

By Jessica Walliser,

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

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. 


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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