Best vegetable gardening books


10 best gardening books

Some gardeners have shelves creaking with books and manuals, placing the answer to every question they might encounter at their fingertips, while others might rely on just one or two guides – their personal gardening bibles – never straying from the advice within.

To help you find your own gardening bible, or simply fill a gap at the end of the shelf, we’ve perused the book shops and come up with this list of ten top tomes. Most on the list are recent releases but there are also a few classics in the mix – there should be something to suit most types of gardener.

1. RHS Great British Village Show by Matthew Biggs and Thane Prince: £20, DK

For many gardeners the village show represents the pinnacle of their sowing and growing year. This book takes you behind the scenes of a very British institution, with an insight into the worlds of both contestants and judges. Garden journalist Matthew Biggs hands out insider knowledge on how to cultivate some of the most popular veg and flower exhibits, while the jam-tastic Thane Prince shares her recipes for prize-winning cakes and preserves. Whether you’re after a best-in-show rosette, or just want to know how to grow a marrow, you’ll find this book both fun and informative.

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2. Small Garden by John Brookes: £16.99, DK

Long before TV makeover shows had home-owners seeing their garden as an outside room, rather than a patch of earth to fill, John Brookes was helping the nation to transform its outdoor spaces into gardens of distinction. This book, and follow-up The New Small Garden, is full of practical ideas, clear photography and instructive diagrams that help you to design your plot with ease and fill it with appropriate flora. From rooftops to basements, you’ll be able to plan, pave or plant up any small space with confidence.

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3. Vegetable Growing Month by Month by John Harrison: £5.99, Right Way

John Harrison’s website is one of the most visited sites for folk with an allotment or veg patch, and this book is similarly popular for those who prefer their information in print. It’s an excellent veg growing guide, expertly explaining how to prepare soil, look after plants and keep the pests at bay. Harrison covers all the basics in a way that anyone with a plot of soil can follow and shares plenty of tips that will make your harvests the envy of your allotment neighbours.

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4. The Ultimate Guide to Roses by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix: £20, Pan Macmillan

Phillips and Rix are arguably the best double act in garden reference books. We’ve picked out their classic guide to roses but you’ll find equally impressive volumes on shrubs, perennials, bulbs, herbs and more – although many are frustratingly out of print. Phillips’ photographs are presented with a designer’s eye for detail, while Rix brings some expert botanical nous to the partnership. This book contains 1,400 images, referencing roses of all types and colour with many of them in various stages of bloom, making it an invaluable resource for identification and an ideal aid to help decide which rose to plant next.

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5. Our Plot by Cleve West: £20, Frances Lincoln Publishers

Clive West is an allotment advocate and in Our Plot he aids the reader in getting the most out of their own allotment with keen advice on vegetables, flowers and fruit. Throughout the book West encourages the sense of an allotment as a community hub, a place for families and friends to share experiences and have fun in a creative way. It’s a good humoured read with personal pitfalls scattered among the practical tips. Digest it, share it with your allotment chums, and watch your plot thrive.

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6. Planting: A New Perspective by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury: £30, Timber Press

Piet Oudolf is one of the world’s leading contemporary garden designers, bringing architectural harmony to his naturalistic gardening approach through heavy use of perennial plants. This book is a real treat for anyone who wants an insight into how the mind of such a creative designer works and includes plans to some of his most famous works along with expansive photography. But unlike some designer’s portfolio pieces, this book also ably demonstrates how us amateurs can replicate similar effects in our own back garden, making it a practical and illuminating choice.

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7. Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs by John G Hillier and Roy Lancaster: £19.99, Royal Horticultural Society

First published in 1971, this is an ever-expanding book, with 1,500 new species and cultivars added to its most recent edition. If you’re hoping for pretty pictures then look elsewhere: this is a proper manual, stuffed full of horticultural details on thousands of plants, proving to be an invaluable resource for even the most experienced gardeners.

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8. Build a Better Vegetable Garden by Joyce Russell and Ben Russell: £16.99, Frances Lincoln Publishers

For some gardeners, building wooden structures provides them with a greater sense of achievement than cultivating the plants that grow in and around them. This new book contains 30 practical projects – from fruit cage to boot cleaner – that will keep anyone with a saw, drill and a few bits of timber happy for weeks. Every stage of each project is clearly photographed with such easy to follow instructions that even the most hammer-shy gardener will be able to knock out a cold frame with ease.

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9. New Wild Garden: Natural-Style Planting and Practicalities by Ian Hodgson: £25, Frances Lincoln Publishers

The naturalistic planting of wild flowers is becoming increasingly popular, not only as a way of creating distinctive gardens but also for helping protect and preserve some of our most valuable plants and pollinators. Through the use of stunning photography and Hodgson’s creative gardening advice, this book opens up a host of wild possibilities, from wildlife-attracting containers to colourful meadows, with a practical plant gallery ensuring there’s enough planting choice for everyone.

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10. The Well-Tempered Garden by Christopher Lloyd: £16.99, W&N

An enjoyable read that offers practical advice, Christopher Lloyd’s masterpiece has been riding high in the bestseller lists since its first publication in 1970. From planting and pruning to seeds and weeds, Lloyd writes with a passion for his subject, presenting his personal take on gardening challenges, triumphs and despairs with forthright opinions and a liberal dose of wit.

Buy now

The Verdict: Gardening books

We’ve popped a few old classics in this list but we’re suggesting a recent release as our Best Buy. RHS Great British Village Show reveals some insider secrets but, more importantly, is a well-crafted book that is sure to encourage more people to enjoy the many rewards of gardening.

Nick Moyle and Richard Hood are the Two Thirsty Gardeners. Their book, Brew it Yourself, is out now

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Have you ever heard of learning by doing? This was the first approach I took to gardening: a sort of trial-and-error epic adventure of many failures and a handful of successes. Then, I figured out that sometimes, it’s way better to turn to expert advice. The truth is, no-one has a natural green thumb. What we do have is access to the best gardening books available, and that’s how I managed to turn both of my thumbs green… with no more failures.

Here’s our list of 20 fabulous gardening books that are ideal for novice and expert gardeners alike.

1. Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening

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This is a beginner’s guide to organic gardening—something that sounds a lot more intimidating than it actually is. It’s only when you don’t know where to begin that the subject seems overwhelming.

That’s why this guidebook is so useful. It’s geared specifically towards beginners, so you don’t have to know technical terms or advanced skills to actually use the methods and tips provided in the text. This book has specific information about gardening techniques and step-by-step instructions. You’ll also find out what you need to know about compost, pest control, and weeds, and how to manage it all using organic methods.

It even has a flower, vegetable, and herb finder that makes it easy to access information about specific plants. The troubleshooting section makes it easy to manage common garden problems, and there are examples of garden layouts to make landscape designing easier.

2. The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, 2nd Edition

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Want to experiment with new gardening techniques and unusual vegetable varieties? This book will help you learn more advanced growing tips and tricks, including planting in raised beds and in deep soil. Written to provide tips for high-yield gardening, this book includes profiles of hundreds of different vegetables and information about how to grow them.

While the text covers several advanced growing skills, this book was written for gardeners of all levels. That includes novices who are learning how to plant and grow their own food for the first time.

3. All New Square Foot Gardening II

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This is “The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space,” according to the subtitle. Every gardener wants more space, but short of buying extra property, all you can do is maximize what you’ve got. This book teaches you how to use all sorts of hacks to get more out of the space you already have. You’ll get tips for vertical gardening, and even suggestions on how to get kids involved in gardening activities. The text is accompanied by full-color images.

4. The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual

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Who says you need an outdoor space to garden? Learn how to grow more than 160 indoor plants with this great manual. This book was written by a master gardener to help you learn the best ways to bring nature indoors. It’s filled with information about many different houseplants, with detailed profiles that provide expert tips about growing needs and troubleshooting.

5. Plants You Can’t Kill

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This is an essential book for newbie gardeners who need to build confidence and convince themselves that yes, they can grow plants. This book has more than 100 easy-to-grow shrubs, flowers, and vegetables that beginners can grow without too much time and trouble. Even if you’re a little neglectful or you’ve been accused of having a black thumb, you’ll find that you can make your garden grow beautifully with the tips and plant recommendations provided in here.
This book is all about tough plants—and only tough plants—so you’ll actually have to do a lot more than skip a few days’ worth of watering to do any damage to them.

6. Epic Tomatoes

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From the most casual to the most extensive home gardens, one plant is almost omnipresent: the tomato. They’re one of the most popular garden plants of all time, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to grow. If you’re tired of wild-looking tomato plants that produce very little fruit, this book just might save your garden. It’ll teach you everything you need to know about growing more than 200 tomato varieties, through every phase of planting and caring for them.

There’s even a comprehensive guide to common tomato pests and diseases, as well as tips on how to avoid them entirely. As a bonus, this book has gorgeous photographs accompanying the text.

7. The Gardener’s Year

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I used to think of gardening as a spring and summer hobby, but expert gardeners know that it’s actually a 12-month activity. This book explains what you should be doing in your garden on a month-by-month basis. It explains that if you aren’t working out there every month, you’re behind the curve. This book will teach you what to do for your lawn, trees, shrubs, climbing plants, flowers, container plants, vegetables, herbs, and fruits, and even provides tips for water gardens and greenhouses. The text is arranged as an easy-to-use reference guide, so you can locate the exact information you need with quick, at-a-glance monthly tables. Along with text, you’ll find color photographs and step-by-step diagrams.

8. Homegrown Pantry

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If you can grow tomatoes and peppers in summertime and a few squashes in fall, why not enjoy the fruits of your labor year-round? Well, with this book, you can. It was written for intermediate gardeners who want to enjoy homemade preserves from their pantry all year. You’ll learn how to grow a variety of edible plants, including beets and beans, and how to grow enough to stock your pantry with food to eat every day of the year. The text provides tips for using specific growing methods, as well as information about which food plant varieties you should grow to suit your family’s needs.

9. The Flower Gardener’s Bible

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Flowers add beauty to any garden, and help make ordinary gardens extraordinary. This book teaches you how to add gorgeous color to your space throughout the growing season, so your yard will truly stand apart. This in-depth book covers everything you ever wanted to know about growing flowers, from choosing the site to getting more life out of your plants. You’ll learn how to battle pests, improve your soil, and get more color out of all your blooms.

Everyone, from beginners to the most seasoned flower gardeners, can learn from the tips provided in this book.

10. Gaia’s Garden

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Permaculture isn’t something that’s only for large-scale farms: it’s a holistic approach that can be used in any outdoor space. This is one of the best gardening books about permaculture techniques, and can teach you how to use them to make your home garden flourish. Using the tips in this book, you won’t just create a backyard garden: you’ll create an entire ecosystem.

Gaia’s Garden offers advice on how to catch and conserve water to make your garden more self-sustaining, as well as how to maintain soil fertility. It has designs for building habitats for beneficial birds, insects, and animals, and even offers tips for growing edible forests. Best of all, it also includes gardening techniques for those who have a limited amount of gardening space.

11. Planting

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Gardens can be used to produce food and flowers for you to enjoy all year, but it’s a garden’s design that makes your yard look exceptional. Find out what you need to know about landscape design with this book, which teaches you how to use ecology to create an amazing outdoor space. You’ll get tips about choosing plants based on color, structure, and texture, so you can cultivate a garden masterpiece of your own.

12. Let it Rot!

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This is known as the “Gardener’s Guide to Composting,” and is one of the most informative books for your gardening library. This tome will teach you everything you need to know about turning yard waste and kitchen scraps into nourishment for your garden. You’ll spend a lot less on fertilizer, and keep your garden healthier with the scraps that would otherwise be headed to the dump.

13. Vegetables Love Flowers

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As your gardening skills grow, you’re going to want to start thinking about a more advanced gardening technique: companion planting. Since the earliest days of domestic agriculture, companion planting has been used to enhance food plant yields. This book can teach you how to intermix vegetables and flowers into one thriving garden.

The text breaks down and simplifies companion planting to teach you how to get more from your vegetable plants. In addition, you’ll find specific examples of which species work together symbiotically, and which plants are right for your growing zone.

14. Good Bug Bad Bug

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This book is a virtual who’s-who of garden bugs, helping you to identify the insects you’ll find in your own backyard. Every gardener needs to know that not every bug is a bad bug. Learn how to spot the beneficial insects in your garden, and create an environment that’s more hospitable to them. You don’t need chemicals to manage pests when you have this book as a resource. You’ll be able to make a home for the good bugs, and cultivate a much healthier garden as a result.

15. Container Gardening

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Container gardening allows you to grow plants anywhere: on your deck, on patios, even right on your front porch. You aren’t limited to the amount of yard you have, only to the amount of space that’s available to use. This book even teaches you how to move plants from the ground and into containers, so you can place them anywhere you want. You’ll discover expert tips about which plants grow well together, and how to use container gardening to its greatest potential. Additionally, many of the book’s contributing writers have also been published in “Fine Gardening” magazine.

16. Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales

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Straw bale gardening may be an advanced gardening technique, but it’s also surprisingly easy to do. You’ll be amazed at how much food you can grow in a limited amount of space, and the helpful step-by-step instructions in this book make it easy for you to try straw bale gardening in your own yard. Read it to find out how to grow your own veggies using only a little bit of fertilizer, a bale of straw, and a handful of seeds.

17. The Thoughtful Gardener

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This book was written by a landscape designer, and can teach you how to create a gorgeous garden that’s both beautiful and practical. Having designed more than 250 gardens around the world, the author has countless tips and tricks to share so that anyone can use her strategies to design any type of garden, from calm and romantic, to rustic, or formal, and countless other themes in between.

18. Bees

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Bees is an American Horticulture Society award winner that shows you how you can actually improve the environment by gardening. Aimed at gardeners in the USA, it has extensive advice on what to grow to support bee populations in each state. By doing so, you’ll be making the world a better place just by being out in your garden. Futhermore, this book is illustrated with beautiful images that give you step-by-step advice for your bee-friendly garden.

19. The Dry Garden

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Water is becoming more scarce, and the weather just keeps getting hotter. Learn how to make that dry heat work for your garden with the tips in this brilliant book. Gardeners everywhere need to know how to use dry-garden techniques to conserve water and create thriving green spaces, even in low-water conditions.

20. The Fruit Gardener’s Bible

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Intimidated by the thought of growing your own fruit at home? So are a lot of gardeners. No matter how successful you are with vegetables, there’s something daunting about growing fruit in your own backyard. This book will help you take the guesswork and the fear out of what’s actually a pretty simple process. It’ll teach you how to grow your own apples, blueberries, grapes, melons, and more, with guidance on everything from planting and pruning to harvesting.

The Best Gardening Books for Building Your Reference Bookshelf

Did you find this list of gardening books useful? Together, these books can teach you everything you need to know to master multiple gardening techniques. You’ll get the most out of both outdoor and indoor growing spaces, and grow all kinds of bountiful, beautiful plants. Trial and error is all well and good, but with these references, you can devote your time to growing a thriving, abundant garden instead.

This is our official list of the best vegetables gardening books on the market today. Scroll further down for full details on each product and an overview on books about vegetable gardening.

Quick Look:

  1. Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide to Organic Vegetable Gardening
  2. Gardening: The Complete Guide to Vegetable Gardening for Beginners
  3. Gardening: Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy
  4. The Beginner’s Guide to Gardening: Basic Techniques
  5. Urban Gardening: How to Grow Food In Any City Apartment Or Yard

We know time is of the essence, so the above is a cheat sheet of what’s ahead, just in case your’re in a hurry. Otherwise, keep scrolling down for more detailed and constructive info on each item.

5 Highest Reviewed Books on Vegetable Gardening

Agriculture was one of the greatest skills that early humans learned. Our ancestors discovered how to harvest seed from the wild and grow their own food. Families were fed and nourished from their gardens for generations.

Clear up to the early part of the 20th century, fruits and vegetables were raised without genetic engineering or harmful pesticides. After World War II, commercial farming started using pesticides for most of their crops. An article from Natural News outlines the dangers of chemicals that are still being used on our produce in America.

Many families are returning to their agricultural roots by raising organic produce right in their own backyards. A majority of consumers are leery of the anemic produce that is stocked on the shelves of major supermarkets. The farm-to-table movement has a global appeal for those who want to eat healthier and ditch all the hazardous pesticides.

Whether families live on a farm or in a studio apartment, there are a plethora of excellent books for beginning gardeners. A quality gardening book for beginners should be written not only by authors who have experience, but also love to garden. People can learn how to plan a garden from planting to harvesting. It is an ideal hobby that can teach children about nature and good nutrition. Below are some good vegetables gardening books to consider.

1.) Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide to Organic Vegetable Gardening

For people who are tired of buying questionable produce at the grocery store, Simon Hamilton shares his insight on easy organic vegetable gardening. He compares a garden to a journey, and tells the readers that he will be with them every step of the way. The book breaks down vegetable gardening into easy instructions that will help and encourage beginners.

Hamilton teaches gardeners how to find the perfect location for their vegetable patch—no matter what size yard they have. He will explain the right tools for the job and which plants are best for beginner gardeners. The book gives advice for achieving healthy soil for sturdy plants. There are plenty of tips for novices, including the top organic veggies to grow and how to avoid common gardening mistakes.


  • Book is available in paperback, e-book, or audiobook
  • Several good tips and common avoidable gardening mistakes
  • Wrote in a way for beginners to understand


  • Book is brief and may not offer enough information about growing organically

($) Check price on Amazon

2.) Gardening: The Complete Guide to Vegetable Gardening for Beginners

Nancy Ross is an avid gardener who shares her advice about vegetables in this gardening primer. This guide is available in e-book or paperback. With only 32 pages, it is an easy read with a lot of pertinent information. Ross introduces readers to the joys of gardening, and how it can benefit their families and communities. She explains the essential tools for successful gardening, as well as the steps for garden planning.

There is a chapter about home gardening and gardening as a community effort. The Complete Guide advises readers of the best vegetables to grow in their area, and how to preserve their harvest. This book is written in a fun way that all readers can enjoy.


  • Instructions are easy for beginners
  • Short book that can be used as a quick reference
  • Good information about vegetable preserving


  • Too general to be considered a complete guide

($) Check price on Amazon

3.) Gardening: Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy

Growing and eating organic produce is an exciting global trend. In his concise book about organic gardening, Ace McCloud gives readers the tools for successful growing. He explains how readers can plan, plant, and grow a verdant vegetable garden, even without a lot of space. People who are just starting to garden will enjoy the comprehensive list of necessary gardening supplies.

McCloud teaches readers how to choose the best seeds for their gardens, and the proper ways to harvest their bounty. He also recommends some of the best ways to get rid of garden pests and disease—without harmful chemicals. The book shares his compilation of gardening hacks for the ultimate garden, as well as a few amazing veggie recipes.


  • Easy-to-understand instructions
  • Ideal book for those who want to grow vegetables organically
  • Gardening tips and good recipes


  • An additional chapter about fruits would make the book even better

($) Check price on Amazon

4.) The Beginner’s Guide to Gardening: Basic Techniques

This gardening book can be purchased as an e-book or a paperback. Whether the readers are new to gardening or have done it for a long time, they will glean important information about gardening basics. The Beginner’s Guide covers garden design, soil preparation, plant selection, garden maintenance, and a host of other pointers.

There are superb illustrations and photographs to instruct readers about various types of plants and the conditions in which they will thrive. People can learn about herbs, vegetables, fruits, flowers, and shrubs. The book presents fresh ideas for specialty gardens.


  • Available in paperback or e-book
  • Most of the basics of gardening are presented in a user-friendly format
  • Beautiful illustrations and photos


  • Some experienced gardeners may want more in-depth information

($) Check price on Amazon

5.) Urban Gardening: How to Grow Food In Any City Apartment Or Yard

For gardening enthusiasts who have limited space, this is an ideal primer for growing various kinds of plants. It has a lot of ideas and projects on how gardeners can start growing their own food, no matter the plot size.

Urban Gardening gives directions on how to plan a gardening site, and which plants are best for sunlight or shade. There is a unique section on various plants that are excellent for clearing carbon dioxide and airborne toxins out of an enclosed space.

The book contains a pictorial guide for plant varieties and the best containers for them. Urban Gardening can benefit the novice or seasoned gardener.


  • Specialty advice for gardeners in small spaces
  • Pictorial guide for plants and containers
  • Good for gardeners of various skill levels


  • Not a lot of new information is presented in this e-book

($) Check price on Amazon

Wrapping Up

An article in Cooking Light says that home gardeners get fresher food and save money on their grocery bills. It gives people a great sense of satisfaction to care for a garden and provide fresh produce for their families and friends. Vegetables gardening books can explain the basics of gardening as well as all of its pleasures.

Gardening is a relatively new hobby of mine, in that I’ve been growing plants in my house for about three years and last year moved outdoors and rented an allotment in London. In that time I’ve read more gardening books than I care to think about (some better than others) and I’m constantly talking up the benefits of being outdoors, growing things and the total joy of pulling your own carrots from the ground.

The books featured here should help set you and your family on the road to gardening life. All of them are authored by women, but there seems to be a persistent and niggling lack of people of colour in the annals of gardening books. I can only hope that in time this changes. Plants themselves are culturally resounding and depending on where they come from, can have real tangible worth for the communities that love them.

In Ireland, there is a longstanding history with the common potato, while plantains are a focal point of cooking in West and Central Africa. While I’m sure lots of countries produce their own gardening books, I long for a publishing world where stories of growing and cooking are shared across borders and boundaries, building communities from seed to harvest.

If you read these and fancy sharing some photos of what you’ve grown, please come back and show me!

RHS Step-by-Step Veg Patch by Lucy Halsall

The Royal Horticultural Society usually produces very good books for outdoor spaces, but this is one of my favourites. They suggest that this is foolproof and, well, I’m inclined to agree. Focusing on small spaces, including patios, the book teaches the reader how to grow 60 vegetables and 15 fruit crops, and also gives some guidance around what might grow well in your location. This one is quick, easy and should pay dividends quite fast.

How to Garden When You’re New to Gardening by Royal Horticultural Society

Ever looked at your garden and thought ‘man, that’s boring’? Fancy growing some carrots and herbs but have no idea where to even start? Are you the kind of person who’s killed every houseplant you’ve ever had? This is the book for you. Starting from scratch with easy to follow basic instructions, this book alone could help you to start and maintain a positively lovely garden.

How to Grow Stuff by Alice Vincent

Vincent is a self taught gardener, so f you’re a total beginner that should fill you with encouragement. Having taken over a balcony in the city, she set to work bringing the small space to life. Vincent helps the gardener to grow food, yes, including herbs, tomatoes, and courgettes, but she also focuses on some really lovely flowers, including tulips and oxalis – so your garden can thrive and not just be about what goes on your plate at the end of the experiment.

The Kew Gardens Children’s Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat by Caroline Craig

Lots of people like to get their kids involved in the garden, and though some children love it (as there are worms they can investigate), many small people might find gardening boring. Craig wrote this book that specifically focuses on growing and eating, and passes on a mine of information about insects (thrillingly called ‘minibeasts’!) as well as explaining how plants grow and what cooking utensils are for. It’s beautifully illustrated and definitely sure to catch the attention of your little one.

The Edible Garden by Alys Fowler

This one is all about growing in the city. Fowler throws all the rules out the window and it makes for a really lovely read – she’s a thrifty writer with Gardener’s World, so this book and its tip don’t cost much and there’s an opportunity to grow a small haven of a garden that’s chock full of food you can bring to your own table with just a small amount of effort. On top of that, Fowler has added in recipes for the food she’s grown – including pickles and jams.

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