In my quest to keep learning as much as possible about growing fruit and veg I’m always on the look out for good gardening books. There are so many out there it can be difficult to choose which ones to spend our hard-earned cash on. I’d planned to make this a blog of my top five but found some of them really hard to weed out (couldn’t resist). The following are therefore my current favourites. If anybody has any comments, recommendations or further suggestions I’d love to hear them.
This week I’m raving about my latest buy:
“How Does Your Garden Grow” by Chris Beardshaw (published 2007 Dorling Kindersley).
This is a fantastic book for anybody who wants to learn a bit more about the science of plants and soil, written and laid out in an easy to read fashion with sketches, photos and anecdotes from Chris’ own experiences. Covering topics ranging from plant cells, light and shade through to seasons and ageing, the book covers all the basics of horticulture. I can’t recommend this enough for anybody who wants to learn more about the gardening world, subsequently helping them to improve their skills.
Grow Your Own Vegetables by Joy Larkcom (paperback published 2002 Frances Lincoln Ltd).
A guru of fruit and veg, Joy shares her knowledge in this handy sized book packed full of practical information on everything you need to know about growing vegetables. A no-nonsense book (there are no glossy photos to be found here) Joy covers all aspects of growing from site, sowing, planning as well as a comprehensive vegetable directory. I wish I’d known about this book when I started out.
The New Self-Sufficient Gardener by John Seymour (published 2008 by Dorling Kindersley).
We were bought the original Complete book of Self-Sufficiency as a wedding gift and have often referred to it over the years (although sadly not living by it yet!). The new Self-Sufficient Gardener is a beautifully illustrated guide to producing your own food. More general and basic than Chris Beardshaw’s book in terms of science, John covers the important topics such as the ecology of soil, the edible parts of plants as well as gardening through the year and planning a food-producing garden organically.
The Plant Propagator’s Bible by Miranda Smith (published 2009 by The Reader’s Digest Association).
If you’d love to grow your own plants from seeds, cuttings or division but aren’t sure how, this book has it all. Taking you step by step with illustrations and photo’s on many propagating techniques, including grafting, budding and layering, this book will save you heaps of cash as you start rearing your own young plants.
The RHS Pests & Diseases – The Definitive Guide to Prevention and Treatment by Pippa Greenwood & Andrew Halstead (published 2009 by Dorling Kindersley).
A long title but the best book I’ve found to date on pests and diseases. This book has a gallery of colour photos that help to identify problems, as well as a comprehensive A – Z of pests, diseases and disorders, including the symptoms, cause and control of each problem. Although we garden organically, the section on chemicals made interesting reading and the chemical-free and biological control chapters covered many of the methods used by organic gardeners.
The Vegetable & Herb Expert by Dr D G Hessayon (published 2002, Transworld Publishers).
This was my first gardening bible and one that was carried to my plot every time I ventured out. I was also given a diary version of this by a close friend but for some reason keep losing it! Although the pages are now falling out I think it’s a must have for beginners, containing illustrations of recommended seed sowing distances, expected yields and soil preparation for each crop. The only downside I’ve found with it is that some of the varieties recommended haven’t always been available in the garden centres (so if you do use it to help you choose a variety suitable for your garden, make sure you write down a second and third choice too!)
The Garden Expert by Dr D G Hessayon (published 2005, Transworld Publishers). A
nother handy Hessayon book, this introduction to gardening covers many aspects including putting a name to your soil, improving drainage, digging, fertilising and liming amongst many things. A useful reference book, particularly when starting out.
Thank you for all the great book reviews. "The Plant Propagator's bible" sounds very interesting and I may have to pick up a copy for myself. I too have "The Vegetable & Herb Expert" and my pages are also very worn. The book does spend a lot of time in the garden with me. Out of all the great gardening books I have it is this simple book that I love the most.
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