Buying Guide for Gardening Books
Why buy a gardening book?
Gardening books teach the reader how to seed, grow, care for, and maintain plants that can be grown in an outdoor or indoor garden, window box, pot, or planter. In many cases, gardening books will also help you to identify different plants and how to use them. They often come with handy photos, reference tables, and charts that aid in this.
Gardening books also make handy jumping-off points for novice or inexperienced gardeners who need more guidance. Even if you’re an expert gardener, you may still benefit from the right gardening book. You may be experienced with growing vegetables but have never cultivated flowers, or you’ve only grown plants in backyard gardens and never in an indoor terrarium or window box. No matter your skill level, it’s still possible to benefit from a good, well-written gardening book.
What should you look for in a gardening book?
- Plant Type: What type of plant or plants do you want to grow? No matter what type of plant, there should be a gardening book that has you covered. You can find guides for growing plants native to specific regions, such as the tropics. Some books are dedicated to specific flowers or plants, like roses or orchids.
- Garden Type: Plants will have different requirements depending on whether you plan on growing them indoors or outdoors, in the actual earth, or in a separate container. Fortunately, there are books dedicated to most, if not all, of these different environments. So even if you live in a small apartment in a major city, for example, don’t feel as if there aren’t any gardening books you can use.
- Experience Level: Some are more general, but there are also books aimed at gardeners of every experience level, from first-timers to seasoned pros. There are even gardening books made specifically for young children who want to grow their vegetables or flowers at home.
Should you buy a gardening book in physical form or as an ebook?
If you’re going to be more reliant on any pictures, reference tables, charts, or graphs in the book, a physical book may be the better choice for you since the images in the book will appear much larger in an actual book than they will on a screen. Screens may also mess with the formatting of charts and graphs and make them harder to read, too. That said, you may not have a reliable place to prop up a full-sized book in your garden, and a smaller electronic is much easier to bring along and consult as needed. It also tends to be quicker to search for keywords in ebooks, and tablets and smartphones often have covers that keep them safe from dirt and water; paper books are not afforded such protection.
Our Picks for the Best Gardening Books
The Old Farmer's Almanac Vegetable Gardener's Handbook
Whether you're brand new to gardening or an experienced grower, this handy book is an excellent guide for cultivating all sorts of vegetables.
Pros: This book covers how to grow more than 30 types of different vegetables in clear, easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions and accompanied by full-color photos. The book covers not just the vegetables themselves but the best soil and dirt for each plant, how to protect against pests, other plants that are beneficial or detrimental to growing vegetables, how to harvest your veggies, and more. It also details how to grow these vegetables if you plan to cultivate them in a nontraditional garden bed, like pots or windowsill boxes. There are handy reference tables and charts you can refer back to at any time.
Cons: This is offered only in paperback form.
Bottom Line: If you’ve been struggling to grow healthy vegetables in your home garden, this book is an excellent resource for cultivating more than 30 types of veggies, no matter what sort of climate you live in or where you plan to plant them.
The Flower Gardener's Bible: A Complete Guide to Colorful Blooms
If you haven't had luck growing flowers in the past, this gardening book is an excellent guide to growing a wide variety of beautiful blooms.
Pros: This book covers 400 different varieties of flowers and not just annuals and perennials that you grow from seeds. There are tips for flowers that grow from bulbs or on vines or shrubs, with details on when they bloom, flower size, ideal planting environment, hardiness zones, pest control, and more. There’s even a section dedicated entirely to garden design if you’re looking for ideas on your garden’s layout and which flowers look best together. And as a bonus, this book is available for purchase in hardcover or paperback or as an ebook so that you can enjoy it in your preferred format.
Cons: The flowers in the book are listed alphabetically by their scientific name rather than common ones, so this may make it slightly trickier to peruse if you’re unfamiliar with the scientific names.
Bottom Line: This gardening book serves as a growing guide for a truly impressive array of different flowers. With tips and tricks for literally hundreds of other blossoms, this book is an invaluable resource for beginners or more experienced gardeners.
The Cook's Herb Garden: Grow, Harvest, Cook
Grow your own fresh cooking herbs at home instead of buying them at the store with this handy herb gardening book.
Pros: If you want to grow your herbs at home for culinary purposes, this is the gardening book for you. It covers 120 different types of herbs commonly used in cooking. Not only will it teach you the best ways to plant and grow your herbs, but there are instructions on harvesting them properly, how to best store them (whether drying or freezing), and even some cooking tips. There are flavor and partner charts that guide which flavors and dishes the herbs are best paired with, and more than 30 actual recipes are included. These cover salads, seasonings, marinades, pesto, flavored butter, and even hot and cold drinks.
Cons: Some buyers found that the layout of this book wasn’t ideal or a bit confusing, namely that the herbs aren’t listed in alphabetical order.
Bottom Line: Growing, harvesting, and storing your herbs at home can be a great way to save some money at the grocery store and get fresher-tasting herbs to boot. This handy book of cooking herbs not only makes this particular task easier but provides helpful insights on how to use said herbs in your cooking or teas most effectively.
The Best-Ever Step-by-Step Kid's First Gardening
If your child or preteen has expressed an interest in learning to garden, this kid-friendly gardening book is a great reference to help them get started.
Pros: If your child likes helping you in your garden or has expressed interest in growing their plants, you can’t go wrong with buying them this book as a helpful guide. Written specifically for ages 5 to 12, it’s a kid-friendly jumping-off point for learning to grow and care for plants. It covers vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers alike and how to grow them both indoors and outdoors. Instructions are laid step-by-step to make them easier to follow, along with handy lists that tell you what items you’ll need to grow each plant, how long it takes them to grow, and a star-rating system that indicates their difficulty level.
Cons: While this book provides tons of helpful information, some younger kids may find the large chunks of info harder to digest or pay attention to. If your child is on the younger side of the 5 to 12 age range, they’ll need some extra guidance from you to follow along.
Bottom Line: Gardening can be a fun hobby for even young kids, one that teaches them nurturing, communication, teamwork, and organizational skills, as well patience and discipline. This book was made specifically with young kids and preteens in mind, so it’ll provide a fun, approachable, and easy to understand way for your child to get started on growing their plants.
The First-Time Gardener: Growing Vegetables
An easy-to-follow vegetable gardening book that's aimed specifically at novice or inexperienced gardeners.
Pros: This book was written with beginner gardeners in mind and is thus highly accessible and easy to understand. All the instructions are laid out clearly and step-by-step, so they’re straightforward to follow, as are the full-color pictures, and it covers many of the common questions that brand-new gardeners have when they first start. It’s equally great for growing vegetables in containers and greenhouses, not just traditional outdoor garden beds. Better yet, you can buy this book as an ebook or physical copy, including a spiraled version for easier page-flipping.
Cons: If you’re already an intermediate to experienced gardener, you’ll probably be familiar with most of the information in this book. Keep in mind that this book only covers how to grow vegetables.
Bottom Line: If you’ve never grown your own garden before, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to get started, what items you’ll need, and which plants are the best choice. Fortunately, this vegetable gardening book was written with beginners specifically in mind and can help you to figure out solutions to these problems and more.
A good gardening book can be a huge asset to any gardener in any environment. No matter what type of gardening space you have available or what type of plants you aim to grow, there is bound to be a useful written guide that helps you to cultivate the healthiest possible plants and keep them alive and thriving.