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Apr 17, 2009 08:55 AM

Basic Beginning Vegetable Gardening Book?

Can anyone recommend a good very basic intro book for a beginning vegetable gardener? I have the sunset western garden book (i live in northern california) and it's a great reference but i think i need something more basic to get started- like step by step how to get the beds ready, what to plant, how much to water, what to watch out for, etc. thanks in advance!

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  1. I highly recommend The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Ed Smith. It's a great book for a first-timer, without being too vague and dopey, and filled with information on raised-bed gardening. I started using raised beds last year as a first-time gardener and they work great! Even if you use regular rows you're bound to get loads of info. There are also sections for different types of vegetables which include the type of information you're looking for.
    Good luck and enjoy the fruits of your labor!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: bakinggirl

      I have to chime in for The Vegetable Gardener's Bible as well. I bought this book a few months ago and as a beginner gardener, I've found the info very straightforward and useful.

      The only thing I would say is that rather than following the guidance on choosing varieties of each vegetable in the back section of the book, you should choose varieties based on growing conditions where you live. You might be able to find that information through the extenstion service (I did).

    2. You're probably going to laugh (or scoff), but start with a children's gardening book. "The Garden Book" (ISBN 0894803468) written by Wes Porter is a nice little introduction. At just 64 pages, it doesn't overwhelm with info and terms, but does cover all the basics you requested in your post. It appears the book is currently out of print, but plenty available used.
      My favorite "grown-up" book is Terence Conran's "Chef's Garden: Fresh Produce from Small Spaces."
      As a completely different resource, check your local library or adult education facilities for introductory classes. Or, volunteer at a community garden if one is near.

      1. I would highly recommend Golden Gate Gardening by Pam Pierce which has a specific emphasis on Northern California gardening. Pam is a teacher at the SF City College Hort program and really knows her stuff. Her book covers our climate, soil, how to grow vegetables, fruit & some flowers in general, pests, watering, composting - I could go on. It has sections dedicated to specific veg & fruit that do particularly well here in the Bay Area, some recipes and lots of resources listed in the back. It also explains and timetables how we can grow almost all year round here. The best thing though is that it is written in a very easy style, almost conversational, and while not being a huge book like Sunset Western it contains a lot of relevant information. I have it and refer back to it frequently through the year.
        Good luck and looking forward to hearing about the fruits of your labour.

        1 Reply
        1. re: toastnjam

          I also like "Golden Gate Gardening", and "The Gardener's Table"

        2. I recommend Square Foot Gardening. It's a great resource for any gardening, but especially for getting the maximum output out of a minimum of space. Here's the website:

          4 Replies
          1. re: JohnE O

            I would also recommend Square Foot Gardening. I bought a copy aout25 years ago when I was a new gardener---and I still use it every year! Muddy fingerprints are testament to how many times it's been out to the garden with me!
            However, I would also recommend Barbara Damrosch's The Garden Primer. It covers EVERYTHING---vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers. I like that she gives plenty of information on each vegetable/fruit/herb/flower, including what pests and diseases you're likely to encounter when growing them---and how to thwart them.

            1. re: Anne

              I second the recommendation for The Garden Primer. In addition to the wonderful info on types of plants, Damrosch includes lots of good "getting started" stuff like planning the garden, gear, how to buy plants, improving the soil, managing pests, how to plant, starting seeds, weed identification and management, mulching, etc etc. A great book.

              1. re: Anne

                I agree with square food gardening too....very helpful to us!

                this is also a great website:

              2. re: JohnE O

                There is a new edition of SFG which is easier to read and follow than the older version. It has some interesting revisions to the original system.

              3. thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions- now i want to get all of these, but i'll check them all out and try to pick just one. thanks again!