9 Books for Beginning Gardeners


I didn’t grow up gardening. So when I decided to start my garden, I learned from reading gardening books.

But have you ever searched for gardening books? The selection can be overwhelming! How do you know which ones to start with? How do you decide whether one is a good fit for your specific gardening needs?

Every Christmas I ask for more books, and I spend the cold winter days preparing for my summer garden. And out of all the gardening books I’ve read over the years, I’ve compiled the nine I most recommend for beginning gardeners. 

Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for an aspiring backyard gardener or you want to pass this post on to a family member with a “hint, hint” for your own Christmas list, these books are a great place to start!

9 Books for Beginning Gardeners

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For the Tomato Gardener: Epic Tomatoes

Epic Tomatoes | 9 Books for Beginning GardenersEvery gardener should have a copy of this beautiful book on growing tomatoes. Not only will you learn how to plant tomatoes and what kind to grow, but you’ll also find yourself referring back to its troubleshooting section. Although you can buy it on kindle, this is one you’ll want to have on hand. (Yes, I use it that much.)

For the Organic Gardener: Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening

Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening | 9 Books for Beginning Gardeners

It’s called an encyclopedia for a reason, and every organic gardener should have a copy of this reference book on hand. Organized alphabetically by subject, you can look up subjects like plant diseases, urban gardening, oregano, cover crops, grapes, and manure. Its detailed index also provides a way to find what you need to know quickly from a trusted source in organic gardening. (Note: Rodale has updated this book since I was gifted this copy, and I have linked to the most updated version.)

For the Fruit Gardener: Fruit Gardener’s Bible

Fruit Gardener's Bible | 9 Books for Beginning Gardeners

Many home gardeners fill their soil with vegetables, but growing fruit can be some of the most rewarding — not to mention delicious — crops to grow. Because many fruits are permanent plantings and several require pruning techniques, this can overwhelm a beginning gardener.  But with the Fruit Gardener’s Bible, you can learn everything from how to prepare the soil for blueberry bushes or strawberry rows to how to prune grapes and fruit trees.

For the First-Year Gardener: Vegetable Gardening for Dummies

Don’t laugh, but I must have read this book three times before I planted my first seed. It has basic information on the most common crops and will give those who have no working knowledge of plant science the basic information they need to get started. (And the only reason I didn’t include a photo is because I read this one on kindle.)

For the Container Gardener: Container Gardening Complete

Container Gardening Complete | 9 Books for Beginning Gardeners

Not everyone has the space or the time to tend to a backyard garden. This is why growing food in containers has become so popular in recent years. But, container gardening does require more than planting in a pot. Edibles in containers command special treatment, and Container Gardening Complete walks you through everything you need to know. Plus, the full-color, stunning images provide visual ideas to help you transform your small space into a gardener’s paradise.

For the Organized Gardener: Week by Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook

Week by Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook | 9 Books for Beginning Gardeners

Vegetable gardening can seem like a daunting task, especially for the beginner. When to do what can cause analysis paralysis. Can’t someone tell me exactly when to do what? Yes, and that’s what this book does well. Not only does it give you the basics of gardening in an easy to understand way, but it also breaks up your tasks and the knowledge you need into manageable chunks. Each week, relative to your average last frost date, you’ll see your tasks, and you’ll learn what you need to know to complete them. I got my hands on this book my sixth season, and I wish I had known about it in my first.

For the Gardener in the Southeastern US: Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast

Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast | 9 Books for Beginning Gardeners

Maybe I just have a chip on my shoulder, but in reading many gardening resources over the years, I’ve felt like the overlooked step-child, living in the southeast. Northern gardeners don’t deal with the same insects and diseases we do, our growing seasons differ, and plants that thrive further north cannot always handle our sustained heat. That’s why this book was such a refreshing read. Finally, someone who understands my climate! And the suggested seed varieties for southern gardeners made it worth the price by itself.

For the Modern Gardener: Good Bug Bad Bug

Good Bug Bad Bug | 9 Books for Beginning Gardeners

Gone are the days when we spray insecticide as a prevention measure. Gone are the days when we think if its crawls or flies, it’s out to get our crops. Now we understand there is a difference between beneficial insects and harmful ones. But in the garden, how do we know if an insect is a friend or foe? This very basic and colorful garden book is a must-have for every gardener hoping to identify insects in the garden. You’ll learn to identify the most common bugs and how to deal with the harmful ones in a way that is the least threatening to your crops, beneficial insects, and the environment.

For the Expanding Gardener: Secrets to Great Soil

Secrets to Great Soil | 9 Books for Beginning Gardeners

While cultivating a healthy soil should be a top priority from the beginning of our gardening journeys, the need may not surface until the second or third season. In a new garden, plants thrive in a previously untapped nutrient pool, but subsequent crops can start stunting from a lack of nutrients if measures haven’t been taken to replenish the soil. But, for the beginner, soil chemistry can get complicated. That’s why Secrets to Great Soil is a great option for the everyday gardener hoping to use natural methods like compost, mulch, and other methods to build soil fertility over the long-term.

Whether you’re a beginning gardener looking for your first garden books, a regular gardener looking for more great reads, or a non-gardener searching for that perfect gift for your gardening loved one, any of these nine books is a great place to start!

Are there any that you would add to my list?

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