A Very Short List of Great Gardening Books
I love books, and I especially love gardening books. I have a very long list of favorites that I am happy to share with anyone who really wants to sink their teeth in. However, the theme of this course is to start small and keep it simple, so here is a very select list:
My top pick for beginners is the Timber Press Regional Vegetable Gardening Series. There is a separate book for every region of the US. I have only seen the Pacific Northwest edition, but it is a great introduction to gardening and I assume the others are of similar quality. A regional gardening book will serve you much better than a stock book meant to be used anywhere.
Possibly my favorite vegetable gardening book ever (though not exactly introductory) is Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman. This book is focused on expanding your summer garden into something that feeds you all year, but there is also a lot of general wisdom and practical advice. Eliot has a winning combination of passion, efficiency and organization, and dirt-under-the-nails pragmatism. He is my favorite garden guru.
The World Wide Web
There is a lot of information about gardening on the internet, and some of it is excellent. Unfortunately, much of it is misleading or flat out bogus. Please do not get your gardening advice from Pinterest or Facebook! When looking at gardening ideas online, remember the old saying-- if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
For reliable, locally appropriate gardening information, check out your state university’s Cooperative Extension Service-- find it on this directory . Every state’s Extension Service is different, but many of them are a treasure trove of useful information, and they often have very specific planting calendars tailored to different parts of the state. I should caution that they can be a bit... antiquated. Some have made the shift to sustainable agriculture, others are thinly disguised research station for Monsanto.
The other source for excellent regional gardening information is seed companies. Johnny's Seeds, based in Maine has a fantastic Grower's Library and Territorial Seeds, in Oregon, has a great set of Growing Guides. If you are tech savvy, I imagine that their Garden Planner App would be useful (I myself prefer pencil and paper, so I can't speak from experience). West Coast Seeds and Seed Saver's Exchange are both good resources as well.
Lastly, if you enjoy absorbing knowledge through personal stories, my two favorite garden blogs are Northwest Edible Life and The Walden Effect. I don't spend a lot of time reading blogs, but have really enjoyed the candid take on homesteading from both of these lovely ladies.