The most recommended books about soil

Who picked these books? Meet our 10 experts.

10 authors created a book list connected to soil, and here are their favorite soil books.
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Teaming with Microbes

By Jeff Lowenfels, Wayne Lewis,

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

Anna Hess Author Of The Ultimate Guide to Soil

From the list on for beyond-organic gardeners.

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.

Anna's book list on for beyond-organic gardeners

Why did Anna 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…


By Erin Yu-Juin McMorrow,

Book cover of Grounded: A Fierce, Feminine Guide to Connecting with the Soil and Healing from the Ground Up

Alyson Charles Author Of Animal Power: 100 Animals to Energize Your Life and Awaken Your Soul

From the list on supporting your spiritual awakening.

Who am I?

I am a shaman, seer, and spiritual teacher who lives in Austin, Texas with my husband Luke Storey, black cat Jelly Bean and dog Cookie. I’m devoted to being of service by living by the calls of inner wisdom, mysticism, energy medicine, and shamanic practices I’ve mastered through studies with spiritual teachers, both of and beyond this world. I lead global courses, events, and talks to reconnect people to their fullest power and confidence through sacred practices. My book was named “a top meditation to try” by O, The Oprah Magazine, and I’ve been called "a leading shaman for expanding others into their full gifts and power" by Forbes.

Alyson's book list on supporting your spiritual awakening

Why did Alyson love this book?

Dr. Erin, a PhD in policy, planning and development from the University of Southern California, shares about everything from goddess history, to permaculture, to the skewed portrayal of spirituality in mainstream media, to how to connect with Great Mother Earth, to how being led to experience an orgy connected her with sacred sexuality. In Grounded, you can prepare to be held in the safest of space as you learn about and navigate so many aspects of spirituality, including spiritual breakdowns, what radical responsibility is, life-changing mantras and body trauma and relationship healing – this book is a favorite for transcending limiting beliefs and taking you to a way of walking the spiritual path with sacredness, ancient truth, embodiment, wildness and integrity. 

By Erin Yu-Juin McMorrow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We know the environment is in trouble - and we are seeing direct effects on human heath as a result. Only after we restore our natural connection with the earth can we help to heal it and ourselves. This is the premise of Grounded, at once a clarion call and revolutionary guide from author Dr. Erin McMorrow.

With Grounded, McMorrow teaches us how to transform ourselves, our socioeconomic systems, and the environment that sustains us by aligning with the natural cycles of the earth. McMorrow explores both the ecological and spiritual basis of our existing climate crises - including what…

For the Love of Soil

By Nicole Masters,

Book cover of For the Love of Soil: Strategies to Regenerate Our Food Production Systems

Courtney White Author Of Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey Through Carbon Country

From the list on and for learning about regenerative agriculture.

Who am I?

I am an author and former environmental activist who dropped out of the ‘conflict industry’ in 1997 to start the Quivira Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a radical center among ranchers, environmentalists, scientists, and others around practices that improve resilience in working landscapes. For two decades, I worked on the front lines of collaborative conservation and regenerative agriculture, sharing innovative, land-based solutions to food, water, and climate challenges. I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Courtney's book list on and for learning about regenerative agriculture

Why did Courtney love this book?

In this lively book, soil scientist Nicole Masters digs into the global soil crisis and explains how regenerative agriculture can restore degraded land, repair natural cycles, and bring vitality back to ecosystems. The book translates the often complex and technical know-how of soil into understandable terms with case studies from regenerative farmers and ranchers in Australasia and North America. Along with sharing key soil health principles and restoration tools, Masters provides an action plan to heal the planet.

By Nicole Masters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For the Love of Soil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Newly Edited Version* Learn a roadmap to healthy soil and revitalised food systems for powerfully address these times of challenge. This book equips producers with knowledge, skills and insights to regenerate ecosystem health and grow farm/ranch profits. Learn how to:- Triage soil health and act to fast-track soil and plant health-Build healthy resilient soil systems-Develop a deeper understanding of microbial and mineral synergies-Read what weeds and diseases are communicating about soil and plant health-Create healthy, productive and profitable landscapes.Globally recognised soil advocate and agroecologist Nicole Masters delivers the solution to rewind the clock on this increasingly critical soil crisis in…

The Soul of Soil

By Joseph Smillie, Grace Gershuny,

Book cover of The Soul of Soil: A Soil-Building Guide for Master Gardeners and Farmers

Daryl Beyers Author Of The New Gardener's Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Grow a Beautiful and Bountiful Garden

From the list on for new gardeners.

Who am I?

As a gardening instructor and designer, I've been recommending these five books for years. They were the core texts of the Fundamentals of Gardening course I've been teaching at the New York Botanical Garden for over a decade. Since the publication of The New Gardener’s Handbook, which covers all these topics in a more abbreviated way, I still recommend these five books to my students if they want to dig deeper. These books are what I call “keeper texts.” I own fewer and fewer actual gardening books these days, but it's a fact that a copy of each of these excellent resources resides on my office bookshelf where I refer to them frequently. 

Daryl's book list on for new gardeners

Why did Daryl love this book?

Soil is, without question, the foundation upon which every garden grows, and Grace Gershuny’s excellent follow-up to her classic, Start with Soil, is probably the best plain-spoken explanation of how soil works that you will find. I took soil science in college and barely survived. If only I had known about this book, it might have saved me some heartache and a flirtation with a failing grade. The Soul of Soil teaches you soil science in a fun and friendly way, which is exactly what gardening is meant to be.  

By Joseph Smillie, Grace Gershuny,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Soil is the basis not only for all gardening, but for all terrestrial life. No aspect of agriculture is more fundamental and important, yet we have been losing vast quantities of our finite soil resources to erosion, pollution, and development.

Now back in print, this eminently sensible and wonderfully well-focused book provides essential information about one of the most significant challenges for those attempting to grow delicious organic vegetables: the creation and maintenance of healthy soil.

Chapter 2, "Understanding the Soil System," is alone worth the price of admission. Gershuny and Smillie give lay readers and experts a clear explanation…

Dirt Cheap

By Mark Hoffmann,

Book cover of Dirt Cheap

Cathy Ballou Mealey Author Of Sloth and Squirrel in a Pickle

From the list on entrepreneurship and jobs for kids.

Who am I?

I have never picked a peck of pickles, but I have been a crossing guard, pet-sitter, and professional gift-wrapper. I’ve worked in department stores, banks, libraries, colleges, and even a middle school cafeteria. Every job has taught me about the value of hard work, allowed me to pursue a passion, and inspired me to connect with all kinds of people. My current job - picture book author - is my favorite! I write to empower and inspire readers with new ideas and encourage them, like my characters, to succeed by maintaining a positive attitude and a growth mindset!

Cathy's book list on entrepreneurship and jobs for kids

Why did Cathy love this book?

Birdie really wants a special soccer ball, the XR1000 Super Extreme. She starts selling dirt at 25 cents per bag, and soon has plenty of customers. While she does earn enough to buy the ball, she inadvertently creates a big problem. She has no yard left for playing soccer! What can she sell next in order to buy new soil for her lawn? This determined, creative soccer star’s story will inspire readers to persevere and amend for any oversights in their entrepreneurial ventures.

By Mark Hoffmann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A young entrepreneur sets out to earn some money and discovers the value of a dollar (and of dirt)! Perfect for fans of Lemonade in Winter, The Most Magnificent Thing, and Rosie Revere, Engineer.

Birdie doesn't know much about money. All she knows is that she wants a new soccer ball that costs $24.95. The fastest way to that $24.95 is going into sales, but what to sell?

All her belongings?
Not much of a market for those.

Birdie needs something that she has in abundance and that everyone needs. So when she sees everyone in her neighborhood working on…

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

By Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal (illustrator),

Book cover of Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Carol Fisher Saller Author Of The Bridge Dancers

From the list on nature providing strength and healing.

Who am I?

I’m not an expert in gardening, forestry, or herbal medicine. But like everyone else, I have a growing awareness that our planet Earth is entirely dependent on thriving forests and insects and even weeds. We owe it to our children and future generations to learn about and protect our precious resources. Although I live in the big city of Chicago and have a tiny backyard, last year I turned my little grass lawn into prairie! I have creeping charlie, dandelions, creeping phlox, sedge grass, wild violets, white clover, and who knows what else. (Luckily, my neighbors are on board.) I’ve already seen honeybees and hummingbirds. It’s not much, but it’s something I can do.

Carol's book list on nature providing strength and healing

Why did Carol love this book?

Many of us tend to view gardens only from the surface up.

This book dives underground to show how many living things in the dirt are working hard to help us garden. Worms and insects that we might find “gross” are actually essential for airing the soil and warding off invaders.

Plenty of things grow just fine without human help because they have all the helpers they need under the earth. This book shows how nature goes about its business, plants and insects and animals all working together to green the earth.

Bonus: Neal’s illustrations are anatomical wonders, showing worms and bugs with legs and feelers in a friendly light. Squeamish children (and their parents) might make a few buggy friends as they read.

By Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A companion to the new Over and Under the Pond and Over and Under the Snow, this sweet book explores the hidden world and many lives of a garden through the course of a year.

Up in the garden, the world is full of green-leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt there is a busy world of earthworms digging, snakes hunting, skunks burrowing and all the other animals that make a garden their home. In this exuberant and lyrical book, discover the wonders that lie hidden between stalks, under the shade of leaves... and down…

The Hidden Half of Nature

By David R. Montgomery, Anne Biklé,

Book cover of The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health

Carolyn Steel Author Of Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World

From the list on how food shapes our lives.

Who am I?

Food and architecture have been dual passions in my life for as long as I can remember. My grandparents had a hotel in Bournemouth, and I can still recall my fascination with the way everything changed as I passed through the green baize doors between the service areas and the public rooms. I became an architect, but food was always there in the background, and much later, I realised how I could bring the two together in order to describe the world in a completely new way. This led to my first book, Hungry City, and its follow-up Sitopia, both of which have changed the way I see the world. 

Carolyn's book list on how food shapes our lives

Why did Carolyn love this book?

Occasionally you come across a book that is so informative and insightful that it transforms the way you see the world.

The Hidden Half of Nature is one such book. Co-authored by soil expert David R Montgomery and his biologist wife Anne Biklé, the book explains the intricate microbial worlds of living soil and human health – and how the two are vitally connected. With admirable clarity and amusing examples (such as what actually happens in your gut when you eat Thanksgiving Dinner), the authors bring the complex microbial world to vivid life.

I felt very fortunate to come across this book before I wrote my own, since I could not have wished for better teachers in this vital and rapidly evolving topic.    

By David R. Montgomery, Anne Biklé,

Why should I read it?

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